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Multifamily Market Shows Signs of Improvement

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions for April 2021, the multifamily market is showing signs of improvement.

“We are finally seeing improvement in most markets around the country,” noted NMHC Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky. “While gateway metros are still generally facing lower occupancy and rent levels compared to a year ago, conditions now appear to be on an upward trajectory. On the other hand, many Sun Belt markets continue to see substantial rent growth and strength in fundamentals.”

The survey includes responses from over 100 CEO and other senior executives of apartment-related firms across the nation and tracks four indexes including Market Tightness, Sales Volume, Equity Financing, and Debt Financing. Results of the survey include:

  • The Market Tightness Index increased from 43 to 81, indicating tighter market conditions for the first time in six quarters. Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents reported tighter market conditions than three months prior, compared to only 5 percent who reported looser conditions. Twenty-eight percent of respondents felt that conditions were no different from last quarter.
  • The Sales Volume Index increased from 53 to 77, marking the highest index level since October 2010. More than half (60 percent) of respondents reported higher sales volume than three months prior, while 31 percent deemed volume unchanged. Just 7 percent of respondents indicated lower sales volume from the previous quarter.
  • The Equity Financing Index increased from 58 to 68. While 42 percent of respondents reported that equity financing was more available than in the three months prior, a similar share of respondents (39 percent) believed equity financing conditions were unchanged during the same period. A smaller portion (6 percent) of respondents indicated equity financing was less available.
  • The Debt Financing Index decreased from 49 to 44. As the only index below the breakeven level, 23 percent of respondents reported better conditions for debt financing compared to three months prior, while 35 percent felt that financing conditions were worse. An additional 34 percent of respondents signaled that conditions were unchanged in the debt market.

Respondents were also asked if they were afforded any rent relief funding in their areas of operation. Almost half, 47 percent, reported successful accessing funds in at least some of their areas of operation, and only five percent in all areas of operations. About 25 percent of respondents claim they have not received any rent relief funding at this point. 16 percent of respondents reported receiving relief funding from local government or charitable organizations despite receiving zero federal funding. The last 11 percent of respondents signaled that they do not plan on accessing any federal rent relief.

Click here for the NMHC Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions for April 2021

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Emerging Opportunities During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues longer than any of us may have predicted, the real estate landscape continues to shift. Some housing trends increase in prominence and some come to a grinding halt, all while new, emerging opportunities for growth present themselves. One door opens as others close, so to speak.  For example, the millennial-led migration from cities to suburbs has only gained momentum. Conversely, multifamily developers and managers have shifted strategies to attract new residents by promoting health and wellness movements rather than property amenities.

“Times of great change always present significant opportunities,” said Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global CEO W. Ed Walter during the recent ULI virtual fall conference. “In the near term, our suburbs will benefit from new growth spurred by shifting demographics and changes to living and working patterns resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Earlier this month ULI published its Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021 report, referencing insight from over 1,500 leaders in the real estate industry. Some of the following trends are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Smaller office footprints
    • Online meeting services such as Zoom and GoToMeeting have made working from home (WFH) easier and more efficient than ever. Businesses are realizing they can cut costs by reducing their office footprint with employees working remotely. According to the report, over 90 percent of real estate professionals expect companies to adopt at least a part-time WFH policy.
  2. Suburban migration
    • As previously mentioned, suburban migration, especially among Millennials, was a popular trend before the pandemic. Now, the desire for low-density living is higher than ever. As a result, the south has seen a large influx of growth from movers longing for the greater housing affordability the region has to offer.
  3. Retail vacancy
    • Over 80 percent of ULI survey respondents believe the pandemic has only accelerated a shift in the retail sector that was already emerging due to online competition. For example, large department stores like Macy’s experienced disastrous sales in March after closing stores for almost two weeks and reportedly losing the “majority” of its sales.
  4. State/local fiscal issues
    • The loss of revenue across the board is expected to cause a wake of fiscal challenges for state and local communities over the next few years. Real taxes, the main source of revenue for local governments, will likely fall due to a drop as hotels and retail centers lose value. Furthermore, pandemic concerns create a snowball effect by encouraging consumers to shop online even more while actively avoiding spending money in-person at retail stores, restaurants, or other local businesses.
  5. Safety and sanitation concerns
    • If anything positive has resulted from COVID-19 it is health, safety, and sanitation practices. Businesses around the world are (re)enforcing sanitation practices by requiring customers to wear facemasks, providing free hand sanitizer at common contact locations in-store, limiting maximum occupancy, and implementing social distancing efforts where a line or queue may form.

Click here for the ULI Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021 report

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