An elevated market share for rental multifamily housing is holding typical new apartment size below levels seen during the pre-recession period. However, as multifamily developers build more for-sale housing units in the years ahead, the average size of multifamily homes is likely to rise.
The recent pattern of change in the size of new multifamily housing units stands in contrast to the post-recession increase in the size of typical new single-family homes. According to fourth quarter 2015 data from the Census Bureau and NAHB analysis, the average per unit square footage of multifamily housing construction starts was 1,138, off from the post-recession high set at the start of 2015 (1,247 square feet). The median was 1,084 square feet for the fourth quarter. Because the quarterly data are volatile, it is worth examining the numbers on a one-year moving average basis. For the final quarter of 2015, the one-year moving average for the multifamily size was 1,151 square feet, while the median was 1,070.