Lake County, Northwest Indiana- 2021 in Review

This week is composed of a 2021 Year in Review on Lake County, Indiana where I plan to detail metrics, news, and more. From new developments, value-add opportunities, to appreciating assets – here’s what happened in Lake County, Indiana in 2021 alongside my thoughts and predictions.

To start, 2021 saw unprecedented attention on new construction, sales, and local change – much in part to outside players becoming comfortable with the durability and potential of cities in Lake County.



The table below revisits 2020 + 2021’s rent survey compared to that of Q1 2022. The data was provided by CoStar and their affiliate websites. Based on a summary of over 25,000 apartment units in Lake County the effective rent settled at:

The average overall Lake County market rent settles at $1,103 in Q1 2022 and is up from $1,025 in 2021 and $943 in 2020 – another massive 7.06% increase year-over-year for the county.

The incredible year-over-year growth is due to Lake County’s unit mix – with a majority of the units available for rent being one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

Per CoStar



Lake County is home to nearly 500,000 people, and according to census sources grew by only 0.2% last year citing that COVID deaths played a large part in the stalled growth. Nonetheless, they continue to gain positive momentum from outside forces and investments. The adoption of work-from-home jobs and the rise in industrial, commerce, and warehousing jobs are promising as Lake County has previously flourished in these industries.

There’s additional construction plans for several new complexes in the coming years, including 600+ multifamily units being introduced in Lake County within the next 18 months backing the need for rental housing in the area. This is further bolstered by the numerous subdivisions and single-family homes under construction in Lake County.

Per US Census: [Information is estimated at this time based on historical figures and current surveys]

The high cost of living in Chicago for tenants has been a key factor behind the demand in Lake County housing. Close proximity to Chicago still provides access to city jobs and opportunities as well. The steady job market growth in NWI and future developments such as the new West Lake Corridor and Double Track rail lines, will further promote the expansion in several industries and the overall population.

Due to all factors involved, physical vacancy rates are down to just 4.2% in the market, economic vacancy is likely in the single digits as well due to Indiana’s stance on eviction throughout the pandemic, but no company efficiently tracks this metric.


Major Topics

In short, the unprecedented single-family market has drove more families to rent plus the influx of Illinois residents that value the lower cost of living in Lake County have weighed on the demand side of the equation. For the supply side of the comparison, the increase in population combined with the change in operators have created historical rents for the market as a whole.

The uptick in top-of-market prices is due in large part to out of state operators becoming comfortable with the durability of Lake County as a whole, and their ability to professionally cycle the value-add properties through major deferred maintenance updates and turnover. All in all, Lake County continually proves that it can flourish on its own; with the added benefit of being supplemented by the greater Chicago MSA and its offerings.



As mentioned, there is a lot happening in the public and private investment spaces, read a few of the articles below to keep up to date on what’s happening:

South Shore Line double track initiative: https://www.doubletrack-nwi.com/

West Lake Corridor Rail Expansion: http://www.nictdwestlake.com/

Hammond Bank Calumet Redevelopment: https://www.nwitimes.com/business/local/nearly-century-old-bank-tower-to-bring-downtown-style-apartments-it-will-be-pretty-spectacular/article_b9e203a2-6ccb-53d8-a7c5-5d2b9266b0d4.html

Merrillville Apartment Development: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/luxury-apartment-complex-planned-for-former-grocery-store-land/article_26be76c4-2a0e-5f70-866a-0cf8f9455e4e.html

Hammond ‘Old Downtown’ Development: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/25-million-apartment-complex-coming-to-downtown-hammond/article_92fc4f5c-a367-5837-baef-a8311f9cd6e0.html

Crown Point Complex: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/controversial-crown-point-apartment-complex-receives-unfavorable-recommendation/article_241af4c3-7397-5233-ae9b-582a9b825739.html

There are numerous other developments going on linked to industrial, self-storage, retail, senior housing, and city infrastructure but the above summarizes those tied to multifamily.



As I’ve mentioned, the difficulty within Lake County is the lack of inventory for buyers to shop. This paired with the increased demand for value-add properties in these markets have created a whirlwind of off-market offers and record setting prices. Lake County’s single-family market also had a record year in 2021; leaving those unable to afford a home to turn to renting, helping push the demand and rents even higher.

Even with the increase in interest rates I foresee Northwest Indiana staying healthy, and prices actually steadily increasing as well. The compression will be supported by buyers desperate for yield and competition for Indiana’s value-add assets.

To build even more on the idea – competition will continue to increase from several fronts, the first being ‘local’ players that understand the playing field and have the ability to scale quickly. The second will be owners that didn’t take advantage of selling/refinancing while rates were low and will therefore begin optimizing for a play as rates rise. Third, ‘out-of-state’ investor competition will ramp up even further as they become comfortable with the narrative behind Indiana and the benefits that come with ownership in the state.

The balance that Indiana provides never means insane value fluctuations should the market take a turn for better or worse (ex. Chicago) but instead, a steady growth and decline over time. All the while current owners will be given the ability to take advantage of the market and capture a large volume of interest in their properties as demand continues to climb.

In summary, there will be plenty of opportunity for both new investors to capitalize on and current owners to benefit from market demand. Lake County investors will continue to see a steady increase in renters and appreciation, backed by continued investments in the county’s offerings and outside investors looking to purchase.


How Can I Help?

There’s never a better time to value your property, please reach out if I can help with Opinions of Value or sharing market information and data.

Also, add me on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylesissell/



Kyle Sissell