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New Apartment Units Getting Larger After Years Of Shrinking

The average size of new apartment units nationwide has increased by about 50 SF, according to Yardi Matrix data published by RentCafé. That is a change from years of contraction for apartment sizes, driven by the surge in demand for home office space during the coronavirus pandemic.

One reason apartments are growing is to accommodate home offices.

Out of the 92 cities in which RentCafé tracked apartment floor plans in buildings under construction, 36% are trending toward larger units compared to units built over the past five years, enough to drive the average up 50 SF or so.

The expansion includes larger sizes for one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with three-bedroom units growing the most, at 105 SF. One-bedroom units grew an average of 28 SF, while two-bedroom units grew 39 SF.

There was some variation across markets. The most added space was in Everett, Washington, with 267 extra SF, up from an average of 928 SF for apartments built over the last five years to 1,195 SF for new construction. Other markets seeing significant growth are Kirkland, Washington; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Midland, Texas.

The least growth was in West Palm Beach, Florida, where new apartments are adding on average 1 SF.

"The pandemic and work from home has made more people more conscious of the space in which they live and work," Yardi Matrix Manager of Business Intelligence Doug Ressler said. "The pandemic has significantly accelerated issues on designers’ minds well before 2020. The issues involve the rise of the home as a workspace and a deeper emphasis on health and well-being."

Some developers began adding more space to their units even before the pandemic. High Street Residential, the residential subsidiary of Trammell Crow, recently completed Llewellyn, a 318-unit multifamily development in the Mission Junction neighborhood of Los Angeles.

"The team intentionally designed Llewellyn's apartments to be larger (1K SF on average) to target increased renter demand for more space," High Street Residential Senior Vice President Alex Valente told RentCafé. "At the time of design three years ago, this approach went against the grain of other developments in Downtown LA. The pandemic and resulting work-from-home model has only accelerated this trend and increased demand for more space."