Apartment operators traditionally see traffic slow and rents fall toward the end of the year, but COVID-19 seemed to upset that pattern. Since the onset of the pandemic, rents have mostly risen unabated each year.
But in Q4 2022, things returned to normal, according to commentary from company leaders on the recent round of REIT earnings calls. One executive after another commented on the return of seasonality in the leasing process, which forced some changes in strategy.
“Our switch to favoring occupancy helped us moderate the seasonal weakness and the elevated turnover caused by higher evictions,” Angela Kleiman, incoming CEO for Palo Alto, California-based REIT Essex Property Trust, said on the company’s earnings call.
With fears of a potential recession on the horizon, analysts expressed concerns about whether the falloff in traffic will continue in 2023. But many REITs saw signs of improvement by the end of January.
For instance, traffic across the Denver-based UDR’s portfolio was sluggish in the first two weeks of January but picked up after that, making the firm “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead, according to Mike Lacy, senior vice president of property operations.
“We are hopeful that what we’re experiencing over the last few weeks is a trend and something we’ll continue to see as we move forward,” Lacy said.
But the economic environment, including layoffs in the tech sector, makes 2023 more difficult to project than most years. Read on for a summary of each of the major REITs’ most recent earnings report and their outlook for the year to come.