DC is a leader in building new apartments, but they tend to be on the small side

D.C. ranks as one of the best large urban hubs for renting newly-built apartments.

In the past decade, the number of new apartments coming online in the District has grown by nearly 70%, according to RentCafe. That’s roughly 39,000 new apartments.

The average size of a new apartment that has come to market in the past decade is 751 square feet, the third smallest among the top 20 markets for new apartment construction.

RentCafe says 60% of new apartments that have delivered in D.C. since 2012 have been what it calls “coveted locations.”

“The Navy Yard, in terms of completed units, accounts for about 22% of newly-completed units. Also, the Southwest Waterfront, the near Northeast and near GWU,” said Doug Ressler at RentCafe.

Many of those new apartment buildings, while increasingly amenity-rich, are also expensive. In Capital Riverfront and Navy Yard for example, it is not uncommon for two-bedroom apartments to rent for well over $4,000 a month, out of reach for many D.C. residents. But not all, and developers aren’t going to build residential buildings they don’t think they can rent.

“The rent-to-income ratio in the D.C. area is strong. Typically, the government says 35% of a rent-to-income ratio, and you are distressed. In D.C., you are below 27%. So you have high wage growth and the rent-income ratio is not concerning,” Ressler said.

The rental occupancy rate among new apartment buildings that have opened in D.C. in the last decade is 92%.

RentCafe says Arlington is another hot spot for newly-built apartments in coveted locations. In 10 years, the number of new units has increase almost 31%, and 94% of them are in coveted locations. In Alexandria, the number of new rentals has increased by 19% in the past decade, with 88% of new units in desirable locations.

People can check out RentCafe’s full report for Best Cities for Finding New Apartments in 2023.

Below is RentCafe’s list of top cities for new apartments:

(Courtesy RentCafe)
Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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