The Rise of Multi-Family Housing in America

Multi Family House

Multi-family housing has become an increasingly prominent feature in the American housing landscape, especially in urban areas. This blog explores the factors driving the growth of multi-family housing across different states.

Factors Influencing the Rise of Multi-Family Housing

  1. Urbanization: As more people move towards urban centers seeking jobs and a vibrant lifestyle, the demand for housing in these areas has surged. Multi-family units, such as apartments and condos, offer a practical solution by accommodating more people in a smaller footprint compared to single-family homes.
  2. Economic Factors: Multi-family housing is often more affordable than single-family homes, which appeals to younger demographics like millennials and Gen Z who prioritize affordability and convenience. Additionally, the lower cost of living in multi-family units can be attractive in regions with high real estate prices.
  3. Changing Lifestyles: There’s a growing preference for lifestyles that value convenience and minimalism. Many people are choosing to live in multi-family units because they require less maintenance, offer more amenities, and provide closer proximity to work and leisure activities.
  4. Investment and Development Trends: Developers are also seeing the benefits of investing in multi-family housing. These properties can be more cost-effective to build and maintain, offer quicker returns on investment through rents, and are increasingly favored by city planners and policymakers promoting denser, more sustainable urban growth.

Regional Insights

In regions like the Midwest and West, investment in multi-family housing has seen significant growth. These areas have traditionally featured more single-family homes but are now adapting to the increasing demand for urban living solutions. For instance, states such as South Dakota, Minnesota, and Colorado have reported a notable increase in the proportion of new housing units authorized as multi-family, surpassing the 50% mark in recent years.

Data Highlights

  • New York leads with 52.5% of its housing stock as multi-family, the highest in the nation.
  • The proportion of new multi-family housing units in states like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey exceeds 60% of total new housing authorizations.
  • Cities like New York, Seattle, and San Francisco are top metros for multi-family housing developments, reflecting their dense urban populations and high real estate costs.

Top & Bottom Large Metros for Multi-Family Housing (2022)

Metro Area Share of Multi-Family Units (%)
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 79.3
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 73.6
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 72.4
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA 69.9
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT 66.9
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 65.6
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 65.2
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 64
San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA 62.4
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 61.6
Salt Lake City, UT 60.5
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 58
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 57
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 56.9
Richmond, VA 56.8

Source: Construction Coverage analysis of U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey and Building Permits Survey data


The landscape of American housing is evolving, with multi-family housing becoming a key component of urban development strategies across the country. This trend is supported by both demographic shifts and strategic investments from developers aimed at meeting the growing demand for affordable and conveniently located homes.

Source: Jones, J. (2023) U.S. cities building the most multi-family housing [2023 edition], Construction Coverage. Available at: (Accessed: 28 June 2024). 

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