Multifamily investment sales crossed the billion-dollar mark for the 4th consecutive year in the Jacksonville MSA. Factors such as strong population growth, employment growth, and rising median income levels continue to drive demand. Those factors have made Jacksonville one of the most desirable MSA’s in the country for new Class A development. Over the last 5 years, Jacksonville has seen over 11,000 new units added to the market. Despite consecutive years of elevated supply, Q4 of 2019 was the 19th consecutive quarter that overall market occupancy remained above 94%. The market’s ability to absorb new units will continue to be tested in 2020 and into 2021. There are approximately 5,100 units currently under construction in the MSA, with around 4,000 of those expected to be delivered in 2020. In-migration during the last five years has played a key role in the growth of the multifamily market. From 2013 to 2018, the metro’s population grew by over 10%, far outpacing the national average of 3.5%.The growth rate among young adults (age 20-34) was 8.3%, more than three times the national average of 2.6%.
In 2019, the market had 60 transactions that accounted for roughly $1.3 billion in sales. Those transactions yielded an average cap rate of 5.51%, decreasing 29 basis points year-over-year. The average price per unit was approximately $104,000, still well below the South region average ($140,000) and the U.S. average of $174,000.
Jacksonville’s booming economy has been a key driver for the growth the multifamily market has seen during this cycle. Jacksonville’s employment base has seen solid growth, averaging annual expansion of 3% over the last five years. In 2019, a total of 24,400 jobs were added as the employment base grew 3.4%. The significant job growth has pushed unemployment in Jacksonville to one of the lowest in the nation at only 2.6%. The strongest growth for the full year came in professional, scientific and the technical services sector, which added 6,500 jobs, a 14.2% growth rate for the year. Financial technology services company Fidelity National Information Systems (FIS) is making Jacksonville their home. FIS plans to create 500 new high-wage jobs and make an investment of $150 million in a new 12-story headquarters along the St. Johns River in Riverside. San Francisco-based online personal finance company SoFi plans to establish operations in Jacksonville. SoFi has agreed to lease 37,000 square feet at Town Center Two on Baymeadows where they will house approximately 300 employees.
Another key economic driver for the MSA is the Port of Jacksonville. The port is already the top vehicle port in the nation but there are plans to expand. A partnership between the Jacksonville Port Authority and SSA Marine broke ground in November on a new international port container terminal at JAXPORT. Construction is expected to cost $238.7 million and will enable the port to handle more cargo and ships. Once completed, the facility will be able to handle roughly 425,000 additional containers and create more than 3,500 jobs.