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Multifamily missing middle construction unchanged

The missing middle construction sector includes development of medium-density housing, such as townhouses, duplexes and other small multifamily properties.

The “missing middle” housing is described as a range of house-scale buildings with multiple units—compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes—located in a walkable neighborhood.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the multifamily segment of the missing middle (apartments in 2- to 4-unit properties) has disappointed since the Great Recession. For the fourth quarter of 2023, there were just 4,000 2- to 4-unit housing unit construction starts. This is flat from a year prior.

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As a share of all multifamily production, 2- to 4-unit development was just above 4% of the total for the fourth quarter. In contrast, from 2000 to 2010, such home construction made up a little less than 11% of total multifamily construction. Construction of the missing middle has clearly lagged during the post-Great Recession period and will continue to do so without zoning reform focused on light-touch density.

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