Altus Group recently compiled data for the sixth annual apartment survey in the Town of Sackville, NB. The focus this year is on Mount Allison University (MTA) student enrolment, on-campus vacancy, as well as updated apartment statistics on off-campus tracked inventory, average rents, average overall vacancy, recent and proposed construction.
MTA greatly affects the local economy as a major employer, contributing to the economy, population and consequently apartment development. According to the Association of Atlantic Universities, there has been a steady increase in student enrolment since 2007, peaking in 2012 with 2,678 students. In subsequent years, enrolment has decreased, to 2,339 in 2016, a drop of 14%, or 339 students.
On-campus student housing has seen stabilization in vacancy rates over the past year, with the rate currently at 10% based on total available beds, and 2% based on total available rooms. There are no planned renovations or new construction projects on-campus.
A total of 61 off-campus rental buildings were surveyed this year having a total of 652 rental units. The predominant unit type found in Sackville, NB continues to be 2-bedroom units at 49% of the total units, followed by 3-bedroom units at 17%, one bedroom units at 15%, and bachelor units at 12%.
The majority of units are rented on a gross basis, including heat, hot water and electricity. This is the sought after rental structure for students given that “gross rent” is a “fixed rent” to the tenant. The landlord bears the variable portion of the rent for this rental structure (i.e. heat, electricity, hot water, etc.). In some cases, landlords have also included internet and cleaning services in the gross rent.
Overall, the average rents have exhibited little change over the past six years and have been quite stagnant over the past year. In fact, average rents for all unit types (except bachelor and two bedroom units) have decreased. Current average rates are: bachelor – $514 / month; 1-bedroom – $560; 2-bedroom – $818; 3-bedroom – $1,163; 4-bedrom – $1,383; and 5-bedroom – $1,524 / month.
The overall average vacancy rate has decreased over the past year to 3.07% in 2017, down from 5.22% in 2016. This is the lowest vacancy rate reported in the six years of data collection. This is notably due to a drop in the vacancy rate for older apartments (built before 2000), now at an all-time low of 4.12%. The average vacancy rate for newer units (built after 2000) is 2.34%.
Between 1992 and 2010, there were nine years without any multifamily units constructed in Sackville, and from 1992 to 2002 there were only four buildings built containing 43 units. However, between 2003 and 2016 there were 36 multi-family structures built containing a total of 421 units. The majority of the apartment construction has been targeted at students, with 77% of the apartment units (358 units) constructed since 1992 being for the student population. The remainder of the apartment units constructed (107 units) has been targeted to seniors and professionals. Based on discussions with various individuals active in the apartment market, new supply for 2017 is expected to be relatively slow with no new large projects planned or announced.