Just when we think the apartment market can’t get any stronger, we hit the equivalent of 88 miles per hour and see cap rates reaching a new record-low level. We observe that the mean cap rate, illustrated by the dark blue line in the chart, declined by 10 basis points to 5.7% during the second quarter. The market continues to reach record-low levels and the average commercial real estate cap rate has now been below 6% for all of 2016.
It remains remarkable that this far into an economic expansion that investors are willing to pay such a premium for apartment properties. Certainly, the low-yield environment around the world plays a big role, especially given the relative strength that we have observed in apartment fundamentals. But ultimately what this shows is that investors, despite new supply growth, continue to be bullish on the apartment sector, even if only on a relative-value basis.
As the mean cap rate has continued to fall over time, it is unsurprisingly pulling down the 12-month-rolling cap rate, depicted as the red line in the graph. Due to the strong downward trend in the market, that metric has now fallen below 6% for the first time ever, reaching 5.9% during the second quarter. This demonstrates that these sub-6% cap rates are a longer-term, durable phenomenon and not a one-quarter anomaly.
The environment remains ideal for apartment cap rates to remain at or near historically low levels and possibly fall even further. Nothing fundamental has changed between this quarter and last quarter to alter that view. While hearing anecdotally from clients that they are starting to balk at such high apartment prices, that looks more like the exception these days based on the cap rates for properties in the market that are actually trading.