The Strange Tale of Seattle’s #Multifamily Market Cycle and Maybe Yours Too-

The Strange Tale of the Seattle Apartment Building Investment Cycle

Back in 2012 it appeared that Seattle’s movement through the real estate cycle was stalling out. Not the actual market by any stretch of the imagination but instead where it was placed on the apartment market cycle charts in the Cycle Monitor report from Dividend Capital Research. These quarterly reports on the real estate market cycles for the five main Commercial Real Estate (CRE) sectors in more than fifty markets around the US were widely followed but something was wrong.

Seattle apartment occupancy vs. Cycle Monitor Market Position 2005 - 2014

Click on images for full size.

The reports are written by Dr. Glenn Mueller, one of the leading experts on real estate market cycles who published his first paper on them back in 1995 when he was National Director of Real Estate Research at Price Waterhouse (now PWC): Mueller, G. R. (1995). Understanding real estate’s physical & financial market cycles. Real Estate Finance, 12(3), 51-64. I can’t find a source online for that paper but here is a link to his 1999 paper: Real Estate Rental Growth Rates at Different Points in the Physical Market Cycle.

Market Cycle Monitor Dividend Capital

Professor Mueller has presented his work in testimony to Congress as well. His presentation has expanded over the years but the core understanding of CRE market cycles remains. Here are slides from a presentation last year: Commercial Real Estate and Market Cycles March 2014.

So he knows what he’s doing and has been doing it a long time, you could say he wrote the book on CRE market cycles. But still as I’ll show something definitely went awry with Seattle’s trip through the apartment real estate cycle. In doing so I’ll cover a number of issues that investors and advisors should be aware of when using research provided by sources that do not have a strong local presence in your target market.

The problem was that while the Cycle Monitor had Read more

Do You Know Where Your #Multifamily Market Is Right Now?

…In its apartment building investment cycle?

Well Integra Realty Resources (IRR) is just out with their 2015 Viewpoint Report covering where they think things are and where they might be headed in the five major sectors of Commercial Real Estate (CRE); office, industrial, retail, multifamily and hospitality… as well as a bonus piece on self-storage. IRR is one of the largest independent commercial real estate appraisal firms in the U.S and this is their 25th annual IRR Viewpoint in the fifteen year history of the company according to their chairman in his introduction. Not sure on the math there but I do have their reports going back to 2002.

In the report they cover cap rates, going-in cap rates, discount rates, yields, reversion rates and much more but the first thing I look at is their market cycle chart for the multifamily sector:

IRR Apartment Building Investment Cycle Chart Integra Realty Resources

Click on image for full size. Source: Integra Realty Resources

So IRR has an idea of where your apartment market is, provided your market is in one of the sixty plus places where they have an office. The big question is do you agree with their placement? It is very important to review the data and form your own idea on this because there are good reasons to doubt Read more

QE is the most destructive policy for housing in world history. – Dr. Peter Linneman Good for apartments?

Was on NAI Global’s call with Peter Linneman, their chief economist who had some very interesting things to say for apartment building and commercial real estate investors yesterday. Note he’s an actual real estate guy as well as a Wharton professor and I would have lobbied for a better job title at NAI with his background.

First is about the bombshell quote from above. Linneman said there are many studies about home buying that show the down payment is the issue not the mortgage payment and disputes the whole people buy a monthly payment thing.

If I don’t have the downpayment it doesn’t matter what the interest rate is.

Young people are having a very hard time saving for a downpayment at zero percent interest and their parents and grandparents can’t afford to help at zero percent interest on their savings either.  Linneman summed it up by putting it in a golfing context: It’s not the green fees it’s the club membership that make it expensive. Japan is the poster child for this bad policy, they’ve been doing QE for twenty five years and it’s done nothing to fix their problems.

The most interesting thing from a multifamily perspective was that he believes we’re at the beginning of the capital cycle for CRE including apartments:

apartment building investment loans a beginning of long up cycle

He also believes that cap rates will Read more

Apartment Market Tightness, Equtiy Financing Slide Backwards in Latest NMHC Survey

The National Multihousing Council’s (NMHC) latest apartment investment survey out today has market tightness falling to 52 from 68 last quarter. With 50 representing the better vs. worse divide, results show respondents are feeling the bite of new supply plus a bit of seasonal slowdown as well I sense:

NMHC Apartment Investment Survey October 2014

Source: NMHC

While the Sales Volume and Debt Financing measures both improved, Equity Financing also slipped. As you can see from the charts above the results tend to be noisy and I suspect that with the survey format it carries a few behavioral biases as well. You can see that the world was ending according to Read more

It’s a 3 cap but it’s a Sweet 3 cap and if we jack rents 13% year 1…

Do the pitches you’re getting on apartment investment deals sound like this lately?

LOL but true right? Have a great weekend; we’ll think about what happened last time prices got this crazy next week-

Skate to where the apartment building investment puck is going: Top US markets for future population and job growth.

A lot of the usual suspects when it comes to multifamily markets have moved pretty far into their cycles and if your home area is like ours ti’s getting pretty fully priced. With our value investor mindset that means we’re looking for the next markets to do well over the coming 10-20 years. As apartment building investors we say:

Show Me The Apartment Building Investment Markets

Fortunately two different sources provided data and maps to answer Jerry’s demand. The first is from the NAHB (the National Association of Home Builders) in an Eye On Housing piece called Uneven Aging. The report actually has two maps, the first showing the 2000 to 2010 growth in the Read more

More important than unemployment for apartment building investors?

We all know that jobs are a critical driver of the apartment building investment cycle and so we dutifully follow along with the talking heads when the unemployment number is estimated, released and then its potent debated.  But Mike Scott over at Dupre+Scott points out in a piece posted Friday that apartment building investors should be following employment, not unemployment. Specifically he recommends measuring how many jobs it takes to create demand for one apartment unit. Currently in King County (where Seattle is the county seat and where Dupre+Scott is located) it takes about 8 jobs to do that:

jobs required to fill one multifamily unit

Source: Note that we compressed Mike’s four charts into one for brevity.

The formula is simple: Net new jobs / apartment units absorbed. And if you’re an multifamily investor in the tri-county area (King, Pierce and Snohomish in WA State) that Dupre+Scott provides apartment investment research for, they’d be happy to supply you this information

Looking at the chart we can see that while currently it takes about eight jobs to fill one unit it wasn’t always so and in fact the twenty year average is closer to nine. Mike explains Read more

Job growth vs. revenue growth chart of top apartment building investment markets in the US- updated.

Back in February we posted an Axiometrics chart plotting the revenue growth vs. job growth in leading apartment investment markets in the US. They were out last week with an updated chart but not just in the way we might think since the numbers are Axiometrics’ 2013 forecasts for revenue and job growth updated through May this year. To me the real ‘update’ is that they reversed the axises on the chart and I think it makes more sense laid out this way:

Job Growth and Rent Growth for Apartment Building Investment

Click for full size image. Source: Axiometrics

Before I get sidetracked onto a long discussion on the importance of understanding just Read more

The ‘Twin Peaks’ of Seattle Apartment Building Investment Plus MPF Research says rent growth holding strong there.

Friday twofer on Seattle. First is Dupre+Scott’s  entertaining and enlightening video on apartment building construction and property sales:

Mike has two nice charts showing apartment development numbers back to 1988 and sales volume back to 1981. Note that on the sales volume chart 2013 numbers are Read more

Who is buying all those properties and what does it mean for the apartment building investment cycle?

Mark Hickey of CoStar put out a piece looking at who was responsible for the near record $65.8B of apartment building investment in 2012. CoStar’s numbers show that private owners/developers did just about half of all acquisitions last year and institutions were in for 12%, both near their recent trends. REITs on the other hand increased their share by a third, responsible for 12% of sales volume last year.

Interestingly the sellers were pretty much the same groups, except REITs who were the largest net buyers last year.

Apartment Building Investment by REITs 2004 to 2012

Last year REITs raised 15x the equity they did in 2008 (and 20x the total capital). Up against pockets that deep Read more

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