Condo, apartment market showing gradual improvement

Statistics released in December by the National Association of Home Builders indicate that the apartment and condominium market demonstrated improvement for five consecutive quarters.

According to the NAHB's Multifamily Production Index, which tracks the sentiment of builders and developers about housing conditions in the condo and apartment sector, the MPI score increased from 44.4 in the second quarter of 2011 to 47.3 in the third quarter. That's the highest reading the MPI has had since the last three months of 2005.

David Crowe, chief economist for the NAHB, said the multifamily market has served as the silver lining in an otherwise bleak real estate environment.

"While household formations have been below trend, those who are forming new households are becoming renters and this trend is likely to continue until consumers’ confidence returns," said Crowe.

If consumers are considering renting a condo or apartment and are competing with other applicants, a strong history of paying rent on time is something landlords take into consideration. Unfortunately, however, rent-related data doesn't figure into the credit scores most often used to judge a consumer's creditworthiness.