Northwest Arkansas apartment market remains strong

A Razorback Transit bus passes by the Sterling Frisco complex construction site at Lafayette Street and West Avenue on Monday.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Finding an apartment in Northwest Arkansas is becoming harder, and more expensive, than it was six months ago.

Units are almost full and rents are increasing, according to findings of a survey conducted by commercial real estate brokerage firm CB Richard Ellis.

“The Northwest Arkansas apartment market had a solid performance in 2012,” said Brian Donahue, an apartment specialist with the CBRE Northwest Arkansas office in Fayetteville. “It appears as though the dip in occupancy and rental rates caused by the ‘Great Recession’ have mostly been erased.”

Occupancy hit 97 percent at the end of 2012, up from 94 percent in July 2012.

The Domain at Fayetteville is located off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near Baum Stadium.

Flyer photo

The average rental rate was $572, up from $566 six months ago.

Despite high occupancy levels, Northwest Arkansas has yet to see much new construction outside of the University of Arkansas area in Fayetteville, which may have contributed to higher rental rates.

The Grove, a large-scale student apartment complex which rents bedrooms rather than units, opened in Fayetteville last fall. Three more rent-by-the-room projects – Sterling Frisco, The Domain at Fayetteville and The Vue – are each set to open before the fall semester begins next year.

Once complete, the quartet of projects will have added 823 units with 5,565 beds to the area.

What effect, if any, those complexes will have on overall occupancy and rental rates remains to be seen, but Donahue said he wouldn’t be surprised to see at least some plans for new construction surface in Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville at some point this year.

Overall, Donahue said, things are looking solid.

“With the excess supply of single family houses slowly being absorbed, steady job growth and less new apartment supply outside of the aforementioned student housing complexes in Fayetteville, we expect the Northwest Arkansas apartment market to remain strong for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Occupancy rates

Average rates as of the end of 2012.

Fayetteville: 98%, up from 96.5% at the end of 2011
Springdale: 94.5%, up from 93% at the end of 2011
Rogers: 97.5%, up from 97% at the end of 2011
Bentonville: 97%, up from 95% at the end of 2011
Northwest Arkansas: 97%, up from 95% at the end of 2011

Apartment rents

Average rents for apartment complexes with 50 or more units in Northwest Arkansas.

 1 bed/1 bath2 bed/1 bath2 bed/2 bath3 bed/2 bath

Source: Northwest Arkansas Apartment Market Survey for Year-End 2012. CB Richard Ellis surveyed just over 22,000 of the area’s approximate 28,000 units. The survey does not include complexes with less than 50 units.