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Why Upcoming Fed Policy Changes Reinforce Positive CRE Outlook

Earlier this week, CNBC interviewed Marcus & Millichap’s President and CEO Hessam Nadji to discuss why upcoming Fed Policy changes and strong fundamentals reinforce a positive commercial real estate (CRE) outlook. Some major takeaways from the interview include:

  • Lower rates energize the market, Fed rates shifted from a headwind to tailwind.
    • Nadji explains how a Fed reversal turned what was considered a negative policy change at the end of last year into a positive one this year by stating, “The fed is now so accommodative in messaging that they’re going to be facilitating the life of this expansion, and not becoming a headwind to it. And of course, lower rates lubricate the market. “
  • Lack of overbuilding has resulted in a longer positive outlook for CRE.
    • Nadji attributes a lack of overbuilding in commercial real estate to the boom of E-commerce.

“Office space, for example, has been adding about 1/3 to 1/2 of new product compared to the prior peak of the cycle. Look at retail space in reaction to whats happened to E-commerce. The volume of any kind of retail being built is less than a 1/3 of what it was year-over-year prior to the last recession. That lack of overbuilding plus an economy that’s adding over 2 million jobs a year consistently in a low-interest-rate environment all spells a pretty good outlook for CRE.”

  • Tech expansion boosts demand for industrial real estates like warehouses, distribution centers, or storage facilities. E-commerce has been tough on traditional retail.
    • Tech-oriented metros experiencing increased rental demand for new hires.

Click here to watch the full four-minute CNBC interview with Marcus & Millichap’s President and CEO Hessam Nadji

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Traders Confident of Interest Rate Cut in July

Last week, an unprecedented amount of traders in the fed funds futures market made bets with high expectations of an interest rate cut in the near future.  The high volume of trading came as no surprise as many traders had already expressed confidence in the first quarter that a rate cut was coming. Their confidence only increased after the post-Federal Open Market Committee statement and forecasting materials pointed to a possible rate cut in the coming months.

According to CNBC’s Jeff Cox, “The market now sees a 100% chance of a rate cut at the July 30-31 meeting, up from 85% a week ago and just 15% a month ago. For the full year, the expectation for three cuts is 66% up from 59% a week ago and a mere 4% last month. ”

The record-setting volume of trading was fetched at the end of the week after the central bank concluded its two-day policy meetings. The week’s volume was tracked above 3.5 million contracts, easily topping the best week ever in May 2018 at 1.19 million contracts.

Click here to read the Traders This Week Bet on a Fed Rate Cut in Record-Setting Numbers article in its entirety 

 

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Multifamily in 2019

Despite some reservations before the start of the year, multifamily real estate performed well in 2018. But as we look toward the beginning of the new year, it would prudent of investors and owners to prepare for as the market is expected to shift in a different direction.

Earlier this week, Karlin Conklin, a value-add multifamily expert with a transactional volume exceeding $1.3 billion, outlined three primary factors that could shift the multifamily market in the upcoming year including “pressure from volatile financial markets, a growing housing supply, and emerging development risks.”

Interest Rates And Multifamily

With the economy cruising at a comfortable level, The Federal Reserve has had their foot on the break throughout 2018. It raised the federal funds rate to a 2 percent to 2.25 percent during its November meeting, making it the third rate increase of 2018. A fourth and final increase is expected to come during the Fed’s December meeting. But how will this affect multifamily real estate in the coming months?b1da3076093b404ea90f5996c18540df.jpgAccording to Conklin, debt pricing “looms as the largest multifamily market mover in the coming year… And more so than any other investment, real estate class, or multifamily asset, pricing is tied to debt pricing.” Overall, as borrowing becomes more expensive, the more cap rates will have to be adjusted; and as a result, Conklin sees 2019 as more of a buyer’s market with acquisitions being motivated by assets that are “right priced” to account for rising interest rates.

Supply or Demand?

Throughout 2018, operating dynamics were favorable for multifamily real estate. The combination of increasing rents and high occupancies often resulted in operating expense surpluses. Although, that sweet spot did not last forever. In fact, the industry has started to see a decline in demand, and many markets are now over-supplied. Conklin uses Seattle and Boston has prime examples. Over the last five years, the two markets had “red-hot rent growth” and attracted plenty of developers to capitalize on the high demand and low supply.

Fast forward to November 2018. Seattle and Boston are now pushing through multifamily deliveries that ” put the brakes on rent growth to levels between 0% and 1.5% on a year-over-year Q3-2018 basis, according to Zillow. That compares with annualized rent increases from 2015 to 2017 near 7% in Seattle and 5% in Boston and Nashville.”

In summary, it’s important for investors, owners, and developers to realize how new deliveries are, and will, impact asset values in their current and prospective markets as demand and supply begin to invert.

Development Risks

Beyond the macroeconomic factors that consistently dictate multifamily trends, variables such as trade tariffs, labor shortages, and local government regulation will shape the path for multifamily real estate’s near future.

On a national level, trade tariffs on materials such as steel, lumber, and electronic components have bumped the cost of construction line items by more than 10 percent year-over-year. There has been a specific labor shortage in the construction sector due to a rise in labor costs. The National Association of Home Builders reported in a recent survey that 69% of its members were experiencing delays in completing projects on time due to a shortage of qualified workers, while other jobs were lost altogether.

Post-recession rent growth has put housing affordability in the spotlight, and local governments in some markets are responding with affordable set-aside mandates and rent control proposals. For example, many cities in California have seen the number of citizens vying for citywide rent control vastly increase. Fortunately for multifamily investors and professionals, rent control propositions in California have generally been unsuccessful.

Overall, Conklin still sees opportunities for new construction and renovation in 2019, but with a thinner margin of error.

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Click Here if you’d like to read Karlin Conklin’s article in its entirety.

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Accelerated Rent Growth and Projecting Occupancy

“Demand for 106,716 apartments in the third quarter well surpassed completions that totaled 83,170 units, RealPage reported. Year-to-date, the country’s occupied apartment count has increased by 295,750 units compared to new project deliveries totaling 232,911 units.”

In a recent article for MBA Newslink, author Michael Tucker highlighted recent rent growth trends and expected occupancy rates as we approach the end of the year. This article provides statistics reported by RealPage, Richardson, Texas. RealPage -EPIC Asset ManagementAccording to RealPage’s statistics, U.S. apartment rent growth accelerated to a 2.9 percent annual pace in the third quarter. RealPage chief economist, Greg Willett, said this step up from the second quarter’s rent growth percentage has reversed the slowing pattern of apartment price increases recorded since late 2015.

 

Despite the momentum surpassing expectations in the third quarter, it remains to be seen how it has affected the overall picture. That said, Willett did note that apartment owners “gained a little more pricing power” during the quarter as occupancy increased from 95.4 percent to 95.8 percent.

To view this article in its entirety, click here.

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Multifamily Holds Strong in First Half of 2018

At the halfway point of 2018, the U.S. multifamily market has held strong despite projected hurdles in the form of elevated supply levels, decelerated rent growth, and lack of affordability in major metros. As of June, the national average rent has risen to an all-time of $1,405 and year-over-year rents are up 2.9%, a 20-basis point jump from May.

With rents increasing by $29 in the second quarter, it is the highest quarterly rent growth percentage (2.1%) since the second quarter of 2015 when rents grew by 2.3%. The strong showing from the multifamily market should temper some fearful projections of decelerated rent growth turning into flattened or regressive rates after the peak years of 2015 and 2016.

The spring season is not a stranger to seeing elevated rent growth and is not necessarily a reliable indication of future trends but considering the doubts and reservations of the multifamily market’s strength entering 2018, the first-half numbers for the year are reassuring.

From a market standpoint, Orlando continues to lead the nation with 7.4% year-over-year rent growth. Markets in the Southwest such as Las Vegas (6.5%) and Phoenix (5.0%) have experienced rent growth as southern and western Californians look for more affordable living costs. Tech-based markets like Seattle, Denver, and  San Francisco rebounded with favorable rent growth in the second quarter of 2018 after experiencing some sharp deceleration in previous quarters. View the chart above to see how job growth, occupancy rate, rent growth, and supply levels are interacting with each other.

*All statistics are credited to Yardi Matrix

 

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Projected Strong Market Performance Despite Higher Interest Rates

 

Despite a tightening cycle resulting from increased interest rates and high supply levels, Yardi Matrix is projecting the multifamily market to remain strong through the 2018 Spring season.

These projections are largely based on the strong growth of the nation’s economic growth, positive demographic drivers, falling unemployment rates, high job growth, and increased consumer confidence levels.

In a recent article for Multifamily Executive, author Mary Salmonsen provides a detailed breakdown of Yardi Matrix’s U.S. Multifamily Outlook for Spring 2018 and highlights the positive takeaways in a tightening cycle.

Click here to read the U.S. Multifamily Outlook for Spring 2018 breakdown in its entirety.