The self storage sector is thriving thanks to changing migration patterns and evolving consumer behaviors that owe largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing the niche asset class “from a laggard to a leader,” according to senior economist Thomas LaSalvia of Moody’s Analytics REIS. 

The sector’s pre-COVID woes are well-documented: too much development, which began in earnest at the end of the Great Financial Crisis, pushed rents and occupancy rates down with a vengeance.  And while net absorption averaged 196,000 units per year from 2019 through 2019, “this wasn’t enough to balance the inventory gains that averaged 311,000 units per year during the same period,” LaSalvia writes: during that time, vacancy rates pushed up to 14.5% from 10.4%.  And since the asset class has a low barrier of entry for investors, he says, it tends to have higher peaks and lower valleys than other sectors.

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