The immediate downturn in the multifamily market was affected by the loss of 25 million jobs in the US from February to April, as businesses closed due to stay-at-home orders across the country. The unemployment rate in April was 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression. Since then, the unemployment rate dropped to 13.3. percent in May as industries slowly re-opened and added jobs. The unemployment rate affects the multifamily rental market as renters make choices for housing, decide whether to get roommates, downsize, or move to a new apartment based on employment status.

Cities dependent on tourism such as Las Vegas and Orlando were hardest hit by the pandemic. Markets with high-growth such as San Jose and Seattle were also hard hit, as these areas experienced more non-corporate labor losses coupled with higher rents.

The use of virtual tours increased leasing activity in April. The federal fiscal stimulus package, CARES act, also helped the multifamily rental market regain momentum. The pandemic has also increased resigning of leases as renters are staying put instead of moving into new apartments. Rents for renewed leases and new leases declined 1.7 percent from March to May.

The next year may see renters staying put due to economic uncertainty, with pent-up demand bursting through in early 2021. New construction should absorb pent-up demand in 2021, with 230,000 units expected to be completed in 2020.