Metro Orlando’s 117,000-unit multi-housing market is softening for the first time since the mid-1990s as supply outpaces demand, according to a new first-half CB Richard Ellis Inc. analysis.

Occupancy is at 95.3%, up from 93.7% at yearend 1999. A total 5,600 units were delivered with about 3,460 getting rented.

The picture for the rest of the year doesn’t get rosier. “Although the long-term outlook for the market here is excellent, I wouldn’t be surprised if we dropped below 90% (occupancy) at the end of the year,” Robert W. Miller, First Vice President of CB Richard Ellis’ Multi-Housing Properties Group, tells

Despite the numbers, Miller feels “demand generally is as robust in Orlando as any city in the southeast due to the exceptional job and population growth.”

Concessions are also reappearing. Some landlords are reducing overall net effective rents by 2.2% below street asking rents. “Selected submarkets show higher concessions where construction levels are high,” Miller says.

Investment activity was also off for the period. Total sales volume was $174.4 million, down 2.3% from mid-1999 volume of $178.5 million. Total number of units sold went south. That number was 3,735 units, a drop of 17.3% from 4,517 units sold in the first half of 1999.

Interestingly, the only column showing a positive bent at the investment end was comprised of properties built prior to 1980. Those assets sold for an average $34,598 per unit, up from $27,610 per unit in the same 1999 period.

But properties built on or after 1980 are going for $52,026 per unit, down from an average $56,249 per unit in the first half of last year. The average price per unit was also down to $46,697 compared to $54,439 in last year’s comparable period.

There’s some good news for landlords, however. Monthly rents are rising by 2.7%. The average first-half rent was $693 per unit, up from $675 per unit at the end of last year. The Sanford/Lake Mary submarket led all markets for rent increases with a 4.6% rise.

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