Until now the biggest question in today’s real estate has been when (or did they?) will prices hit bottom.Now there’s another biggie: How many apartments is too much?

With rent prices rising and vacancy rates falling to record lows, the metro area is in the midst of an apartment building boom. Finance and Commerce said an estimated 8,500 have been proposed or are under construction in the metro area. Their report isn’t conclusive about how much is too much, but it’s a legitimate question that draws parallels to the condo craze that ended in a bad way for many developers. And like the question about when house prices will hit bottom, predicting when the apartment market hits the saturation is going to be tough. We won’t know until it’s already happened.

As I mentioned in a story I wrote about this topic in May, having been burned by the housing downtown, lenders today are much more conservative than they were during the early 2000s when just about anyone who could fog a mirror could buy a house or condo, so hopefully they’ll do their due diligence before approving a project unless there’s clear and indisputable demand.

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Top real estate in the nation by volume last year came from Minnesota