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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.

Apartment List’s Renter Confidence Survey

Recently, Apartment List, a home-finding service that offers apartment recommendations based on personal experiences and preferences, released results from its third annual Renter Confidence Survey. According to Apartment List, the Renter Confidence Survey “is the largest survey focused exclusively on renters, providing unique insight into what states and cities must do to meet the needs of America’s 111 million renters.”

The survey is based on 45,000 survey responses gathered between October 1, 2016 and December 6, 2017, to determine the best/worst cities for apartment renters. Survey respondents gave their cities an overall score based 11 rating factors such as safety, affordability, job opportunities, weather, taxes, and more. Below is a graphical representation of overall renter satisfaction by state: 

Click here to interact with the graphic above

Here are some key overall findings from the Renter Confidence Survey:

  • Overall, the top four rated cities for renters are Plano, TX, Huntington Beach, CA, Scottsdale, AZ, and Cambridge, MA.
  • Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Raleigh, NC, Boston, MA, Virginia Beach, VA and Minneapolis, MN earned the top scores for renter satisfaction. The lowest-rated cities were Detroit, MI, Oakland, CA and Tucson, AZ.
  • Small to mid-sized cities tended to receive higher ratings than large cities. 38 percent of small to mid-sized cities received A- or higher compared to large cities’ 24 percent.
  • States rated most-highly by their renters are Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Idaho. States with the lowest ratings from their renters are Arkansas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Wyoming, and West Virgina.
  • Millennial renters love Boulder, CO, Madison, WI, and Arlington, VA.

In addition to overall ratings, renters rated specific factors that have a direct impact on their renting experience. Important takeaways include:

  • Markets with the most unsatisfied renters based on job opportunity are mostly southwest cities hit hard by recession such as Santa Ana, CA, San Bernardino, CA, Glendale, AZ, and Mesa, AZ.
  • Based on safety, renters rate Plano, TX, Boulder, CO, and Irvine, CA the highest.  Renters feel the least safe in Stockton, CA, San Bernardino, CA, New Orleans, LA, Memphis, TN, and Newark, NJ.
  • It’s no surprise Colorado and California have the highest-rated weather. Cold weather cities in the Rust Belt and Northeast have the lowest-rated weather.
  • Renters gave high ratings to college towns such as Boulder, CO, Ann Arbor, MI, Raleigh, NC, and Madison, WI for their social life.

Other important findings:

  • Only 38 percent of renters are satisfied with the cost of living in their city.
  • The top three factors renters are most satisfied with include commute time, pet-friendliness, and recreational activities.
  • The four factors that are most indicative of overall renter satisfaction are safety, job opportunities, social life, and recreational activities.

Major Takeaways from the NMHC Apartment Outlook for 2018

Digested from National Real Estate Investor

With demand holding strong, 2018 is expected to be a fruitful year for the multifamily industry. That is the general consensus at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL., being held this week. Having said that, there is a feeling of reserved optimism among attendees and experts of the NMHC Outlook Meeting due to expected interest rate increases, more supply coming to market, and the market naturally moving to the mature/declining stages of the industry cycle. Here are some major takeaways from the opening-day events. 

  1.  There could be four interest rate increases this year. During its December meeting, The Federal Reserve indicated that it plans on hiking interest rates at least three times this year to stay on par with the economy’s strength. However,  Richard Barkham, a global chief economist at real estate services firm CBRE, thinks there could be a fourth rate increase later in the year. In addition, the U.S. is expected to transfer from negative interest rates to positive ones, which is interest rates minus inflation. Barkham notes that negatives rates are an indication of the benefits of monetary policy support.
  2. The economy may enter a declining state in the next three or four years. Despite an expected decline in the economy, Barkham expects the multifamily industry to weather recession easier than other asset classes given the shift in homeownership numbers.
  3. Blue collar areas and workforce housing present key opportunities for growth in the current environment. Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage, a Texas-based firm providing property management software solutions, says regions with a high volume of blue-collar workers have provided consistent rent growth, despite a lack of construction happening in said areas.
  4. There is a bifurcation in rents between class-A and class-B apartments. Jay Lybik, vice president of research services at Marcus & Millichap, attributes the disparity between class-A and class-B apartments to the change in the provided product that’s being built. During the early 2000s, 90 percent of new builds were garden-style apartments. Recently, 75 percent of new supply are mid- and high-rise style apartments. The gap between class-A and class-B was approximately $225 in rent. Lybik notes the gap has increased to $525. Currently, Boston is experiencing the largest rent gap between class-A and class-B apartments, with rent difference of a whopping $1,170.
  5. Increased scrutiny is key when it comes to development. As the economy begins to phase into the mature stage of the industry cycle, margins of error are beginning to tighten. Interest rates continue to climb, rent growth begins to slow, land is becoming more expensive, and labor costs are rising. So the importance of ‘picking the right fight’ is more prominent than ever. That said, the same narrowing margin of error prompting caution simultaneously result in higher quality deals being executed in a more disciplined manner.
  6. Despite an expected deceleration of new builds in 2018, some metros might out-build their demand.  High-demand markets such as Dallas or Seattle are at risk of bringing too much new inventory to the market that could outpace rent growth, according to Willett. Other markets on Willett’s watch list include Denver, Boston, Nashville, Tenn. and Charlotte, N.C.

Click here for more information on the NMHC Annual Meeting: National Multifamily Housing Council

2018 Multifamily Outlook

2017 was a strong year for the multifamily industry. The market performed well with favorable demographics and provided a healthy investment environment. Despite a very high number of new units added to the market, occupancy rates stayed high as rental demand continued growth throughout the year. In addition, rents and property values had a generally-upward trend across the country, less certain cities and submarkets that experienced some challenges.

Will multifamily momentum carry over to 2018? While there are some mixed opinions, a number of industry indicators and pundits are confident the multifamily sector will remain strong in the new year. 

According to Doug Ressler,  director of business intelligence for commercial real estate data firm Yardi Matrix, new construction competition carrying over from 2017 could finally put a dent in occupancy rates.  “Occupancy will begin to have a slight downward trend in 2018 as new supply is introduced,” says Ressler. In 2017, occupancy rates averaged 95.6 percent. Based on Yardi Matrix data projections, 2018 will maintain a similar average of 95.4 percent.

That said, Ressler also noted the possibility of developers slowing the pace of new builds as the year progresses, which would improve the outlook for 2019. With fewer developments coming to market, 2019 would forecast some strong occupancy rates that could encourage property managers to increase rents. “We see national rent growth continue its positive climb in 2018,” says Ressler. in 2017, rents averaged an increase of 2.4 percent. Yardi Matrix projects 2018 rents to grow by 2.9 percent.

Industry professionals could see a change in target markets as the industry shifts into the new year. For example, some submarkets experienced strong growth as we rounded out 2017. So if that growth remains consistent this year, suburban/satellite cities benefitting from “demand overflow” could become popular investment environments.

All quotes and figures have been digested from Yardi Matrix and NREI Daily.  

 

 

Federal Reserve Raise Interest Rates

As many real estate professionals expected, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to a range between 1.25 and 1.5 percent. This is the third increase of the year with the last one coming in June.

The chief economist at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Ryan Severino, expressed his minimal concern by stating, “We have been hiking rates for the last two years with no discernable impact on commercial real estate. That is because the economy continued to grow quickly enough over the last two years to support real estate even in the face of rising rates.”

That is not to say Severino doesn’t have his reservations. He highlighted the fact that rates increasing too quickly could stall economic growth and do considerable damage to the commercial real estate sector. In addition, as interest rates continue to rise, the cap rate spreads will continue to compress. Having said that, industry pundits believe the economy is strong enough to absorb the rate increase. 

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, rates will continue to slowly increase in the coming term(s) with officials planning three quarter-point rate increases followed by hikes in 2019 and 2020. The projections for 2018 remain positive, as bank officials expect the U.S. economy to grow by 2.5,  and continue growing through 2020.

Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, offered her confidence in the projections and growth in a news conference, “The global economy is doing well. We’re in a synchronized expansion. This is the first time in many years we’ve seen this… I feel good about the economic outlook.” She also provided reassurance by noting the economy’s growth is not built on a massive amount of unsustainable debt, unlike another not-so-distant time of economic growth.

Click here for more information on rate increases and upcoming term projections:

The Wall Street Journal: Fed Raises Rates, Sticks to Forecast for 2018 Increases

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System press release

NAA Report Points to Orlando

Every quarter, the National Apartment Association (NAA) partners with RealPage to produce a Market Momentum report, which surveys industry executives across the country to reveal the most desirable markets for investing, rent performance, and resident retention.

While there are many varying opinions about what markets are desirable in the current economic climate, according to the most recent Market Momentum report, industry executives see Orlando being a hotspot for near-term multifamily investments.

“Market Momentum survey respondents rank Orlando as the top choice for increasing near-term apartment investment, said RealPage Chief Economist Greg Willett. “Supporting this choice, RealPage stats reveal tight occupancy, solid rent growth and comparatively moderate ongoing building in Orlando. Seattle and Washington, DC remain favored metros, while Sacramento and Los Angeles are moving up the list. Miami, Dallas and Atlanta, markets that previously were viewed favorably, have dropped from the top-rated list.”

NAA President & CEO Robert Pinnegear attests to the value of Market Momentum, noting the wide-range usage the report and the timely data it provides to industry investors and NAA members.

Click here for the full National Apartment Association article: www.naahq.org/orlando

For access to the full Market Momentum 2017 – Q3 click here: NAA Market Momentum

To learn more about NAA member services and sign-up: Member Services

Suburbs More Viable Than You Think?

In a recent article for Multifamily Executive, author Mary Salmonsen discussed what she learned from the MFE Conference in Las Vegas and why some suburban areas across the nation could provide favorable investing conditions for investors, asset managers, and developers.

Despite some fundamental differences and the inherent unknowns that come with penetrating a new market, multiple industry pundits believe the risks might not be as bad one may think.

“I’m convinced that, even at this point in the cycle, you can go to the suburban categories, the right kind of suburbs, and not add any risk to your investment strategy, but actually also achieve a better yield and save a risk-adjusted return,” said Jay Parsons, vice president of MPF Yieldstar, in the opening section of his panel presentation “The Nation’s Strongest Under the Radar Markets,” held Sept. 19 at the MFE Conference in Las Vegas.

Parsons didn’t overlook the obvious advantages of investing in dense, urban areas. He noted factors like construction incentives and more willing investors as main reasons why urban areas are so attractive for multifamily investments and developments. But at the same time, Parsons lists those same urban market strengths as potential barriers as well, due to the cost of investor capital and the extended time it takes to build.

On the other hand, suburban areas have their own barriers to entry. In many cases, suburban cities have more restrictive zoning laws against multifamily properties. Furthermore, suburban locals might show ‘not in my backyard’ resistance to multifamily construction. Having said that, those who can bypass suburban barriers could be in line for better yields with little to no added risk.

Zillow senior economist,  Aaron Terrazas, followed Parsons by taking a more detailed look at the flucuation of rent growth in the country’s strongest metros and cross-examining his findings with Zillow’s ZIP code-level rent appreciation data. He accredited market rent growth to specific local factors like Atlanta’s infrastructure and lifestyle investments or Sacramento being a satellite market to the Bay Area. In summary, Terrazas found that each smaller market that experienced growth had a unique factor that could make it a more attractive to investors and developers than a broader, national report might suggest.

“The reality today is everybody has to do their homework,” Terrazas said. “There’s no single national narrative. Things are local, the story’s local, and you have to look at the whole data to understand what’s happening here. You can’t just take a single national line.”

Click here to read more from Mary Salmonsen and Multifamily Executive

Employment Growth in October

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the addition of 261,000 jobs to the U.S. total nonfarm payroll employment during October. The BLS also reported the headline unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent – the lowest rate in the past 17 years.

The rebound in employment counteracts the slump in September which can be widely-attributed to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

EPIC Asset Management Group

According to the BLS report, employment in the food services and drink places industry spiked in October increasing by +89,000 following September’s decrease of 98,000 due to the hurricanes. The manufacturing sector saw a rise in employment by 24,000 jobs last month while health care added about 22,000 jobs. The professional and business services industry also stayed on pace with its average monthly gain by adding 50,000 jobs to the market.

Other major industries such as mining, construction, retail, government, transportation and warehousing, and information services experienced minimal change during October.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls only slightly varied in October. But over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 63 cents or 2.4 percent.

Click here for the Bureau of Labor Statistics October report in its entirety: www.bls.gov

Getting Ready to Sell Your Community

Analyzing Metrics - EPIC Asset Management Group

In a recent article for the National Apartment Association, author Les Shaver, interviewed some multifamily professionals from Chicago-based AMLI Residential to learn strategies that make selling a community easier by demonstrating uncapitalized property value and analyzing macro data.

“We want to demonstrate value for the buyers by upgrading 20 percent of the apartments, Sarah Wieckowicz, Vice President of Revenue Management at AMLI, said during the Maximize session “Leaving Occupancy Behind: Identifying the Truly Important Measures” last week in Austin. “We can show a potential buyer what kinds of returns they can get.” In other words, leaving some meat on the bone will make your property more attractive to potential buyers when it comes time to sell.

In the process, AMLI is also harnessing the power of advanced metrics. The company is utilizing their access to big data to know when to accelerate or decelerate a rehab process, understand if it’s best to sell or maintain ownership of property, and accurately inform potential and current buyers.

For the entire NAA article and more details on these selling strategies, click here.