Fort Worth tops in Texas for apartments, study finds

A. Lee Graham


Fort Worth tops apartment markets statewide for the month of August 2014, according to research by Axiometrics Inc., a Dallas-based apartment market research and analysis firm.

Boasting its best performance in three years, the Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan District grew by 5.6 percent in August, 56 basis points higher from July’s 5.0 percent and of 187 basis points from August 2013’s 3.73 percent.

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Cowtown’s August effective rent growth marked its market’s highest since 6.2 percent in August 2011.

“In the past two months, Fort Worth’s effective rent growth surpassed that of Austin, and then Houston, to take the lead among Texas markets,” said Stephanie McCleskey, vice president of research with the Dallas analysis firm, commenting in a news release.

“The [Fort Worth-Arlington] metro [market] is also making its mark nationally, ranking 11th among Axiometrics’ top 50 markets nationally,” McCleskey said.

Jobs are helping drive the Fort Worth apartment market, as they do in most other metropolitan areas, according to Axiometrics, but other factors also are boosting the western half of the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

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“Like Oakland, the No. 1 apartment market in the U.S., Fort Worth offers a less expensive alternative to a larger, nearby market,” McCleskey said. “Fort Worth-Arlington rents have consistently been about $100 less than those in the Dallas-Plano-Irving Metropolitan Division.”

In August, the average Fort Worth apartment rented for $891 per month, while the average Dallas unit cost $998.

While not necessarily driving an hour in heavy traffic between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas, workers may be commuting to closer employment centers, such as Las Colinas, according to Axiometrics.

“Fort Worth also has added much in terms of lifestyle and culture that is attracting new residents,” McCleskey said.

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“Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth is a walkable, trendy area with restaurants, shopping and entertainment that today’s primary renter demographic – millennials – want close to their homes. The Bass Performance Hall and its variety of theatrical and musical programming appeals to all generations,” McCleskey said.

Primarily contributing to the rent growth are jobs, the research found. Fort Worth’s 3.1 percent job growth in July 2014, the latest month for which data are available, rose rapidly from its 2.2 percent dip in March 2014. Though not as heady as the Dallas-Plano-Irving metro’s July job growth of 4.1 percent, Fort Worth’s rate is at its highest since December 2012.

As jobs have emerged, occupancy has risen, according to Axiometrics. For most of the past two years, Fort Worth-Arlington occupancy has hovered in the 93.9 percent-94.6 percent range. But the market achieved 95 percent occupancy in May 2004, the first time since at least spring 2008 it reached that mark. Occupancy has been at or above 95 percent three of the past four months.

“Many developers are just starting to see the appeal of Fort Worth,” said Jay Denton, senior vice president of research and analytics with Axiometrics.

“While we expect construction to accelerate somewhat, it still won’t reach Dallas proportions, thus rent growth should continue to increase,” Denton said.

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