If you live in Charlotte and have eyes, you've seen the apartment boom, with new, high-end units springing up like a plywood army surrounding uptown. I even wrote a column about it last week (the tl;dr version: Vacancy will go up this year and next, but we're not at a full-fledged bubble yet).
Here's a chart of data pulled together by the folks at CMD Group that shows the rocket-ship-trajectory of multifamily building in Charlotte:
As you can see, multifamily building permits cratered in the recession's aftermath, with fewer than 1,000 pulled in 2010. That's the lowest point in a decade. But demand rebounded swiftly: Permits passed pre-recession highs in 2012 and hit a new high last year, passing 6,600.
CMD Chief Economist Alex Carrick said he expects the boom to continue. The reasons are myriad: Millenials postponing marriage and kids while they pay off student debt, older empty-nesters downsizing from the big house in the burbs to an apartment or condo, a cultural shift back to walkable cities.
I asked Carrick if he thinks we're looking at a dangerous bubble down the road. What happens when all of those Millenials want to have kids and buy the house with the backyard, say in 10 years?
"That is a danger," said Carrick. "At that time, there might well be a whole bunch of problems, some empty, see-through buildings. But developers never worry about that. They know there's a demand right now."
"You can worry about 10 years from now," said Carrick, But everything changes so rapidly, you don't know what's going to happen."