Downtown Durham’s apartment supply is rising, but so is demand

It’s a good time to be a renter in downtown Durham, according to experts.

Hundreds of new apartments are coming onto the market, and keeping rent prices in check. On Tuesday, construction started on a new affordable housing complex.

Jay Parsons, deputy chief economist at real estate software company RealPage, said downtowns across the country are seeing an uptick in apartment demand, and downtown Durham is no exception.

“Apartment demand in downtown Durham has never been stronger than it is now,” Parsons said. “It speaks not only to the drawing power of downtown Durham but also to the increased availability.”

That growing demand has been met with a growing supply. In the last five years, 5,300 new apartments have been built downtown, and 1,700 are currently under construction, he said.

During that time period, rent only increased about 2%, which is lower than both the national and regional rate, Parsons said.

A lot of the newer apartments are expensive, he said, but they are marketed to a different customer base than older or more affordable options. Because of the lack of competition between the two different options, rent prices at the typically more affordable places can be kept low.

The increasing number of more expensive apartments also helps keep their own market prices low. The volatility that comes from new complexes continuously being built causes many apartments to offer concessions, like a free month of rent, to stay competitive with renters.

Nicole Thompson, CEO of Downtown Durham Inc., credits the rise in housing demand to more people wanting to play, work and live in downtown Durham.

The growth in the apartment market is an extension of the growth in retail and entertainment downtown, she said. More people want to be within walking distance of the restaurants, shops and venues.

Downtown Durham is expecting to see even more growth in the coming months and years, Thompson said. Downtown Durham Inc.’s main goal is to create well-rounded growth, with commercial development in addition to residential development.

“We’re just very excited about what we’re seeing happen downtown,” she said. “We continue to encourage and support anyone and everyone, everyone is welcome.”

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