The growth in the share of multifamily units in Maryland has been striking since the mid-2000s housing bubble burst. Multi-family housing — generally, apartments — made up 38 percent of all residential permitted units in 2011. That was the highest level since the early 1970s and well above typical rates over the last three decades.Since 2006, the total number of permitted residential units has plummeted from around 30,000 to an historic low of just over 11,000 in 2009, (with a small rise to 13,500 in 2011). The collapse of the housing bubble, the increased difficulty in qualifying for home mortgages and the softness in the recovery from the Great Recession have all contributed to driving down demand for single-family homes. That, in turn, pushed more households into rental housing, leading to lower vacancy rates and higher rents. This increased demand for rental units has also spurred increased construction of rental units over the last several years.
Another factor in the rise in the share of multi-family housing has been demographic — that is, the coming of age of the millennial generation (generally those born since 1980). With many now in their 20s and with job markets uncertain, many millenials may be wary of being tied down to one place by a home mortgage and are expressing a preference for rental housing.
With the increased demand for multi-family housing, local governments might need to evaluate whether or not there is enough zoned land to accommodate the multi–family market.