Seattle’s Strange Trip Through the Apartment Building Investment Cycle Part II
In part I we saw that some of the most widely followed market cycle research can’t be relied on without question. If knowing where we are in the market cycle is the most important thing (and not everyone agrees, see the comments from one of my private equity guys about that under part I here) then the best solution is probably to chart the cycles for the markets we’re investing in ourselves. If you’re in multiple CRE sectors in a lot of markets hopefully you have someone on your team or can hire a consultant (like Ashworth) to chart those cycles.
The Strange Tale of the Seattle Apartment Building Investment Cycle and Maybe Yours Too.
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.
Why this up to date market data is vitally important to your investment success:
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:
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 Continue reading Do You Know Where Your Apartment Market Is Right Now?
Once again apartment building investment loan rates have hit the hard boundary of 4.5% even while the 10yr Treasury (T10) falls back below 2% for the first time since May 2013. This is causing the 120 day average spread to begin bending upwards. Currently it’s 2.178% on the back of a 2.46% weekly spread as of Monday when the T10 was passing through 2.04% on its way to 1.96% yesterday:
The ULI <60 LTV rate has been bouncing in the 3.5-3.6% range but that’s a function of it being quoted on a spread basis and the only change there since the middle of November was when it dropped 1 basis point (1bp) in the middle of December; chalk it up to holiday season hibernation.
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:
As apartment building investors it’s easy to get so deep into the trenches of our market sector that we get blindsided by political events that don’t make any sense from an economic or investment perspective. With every market being so local and at the same time now subject to institutional interest it’s a stretch just to be able to track what’s happening in the lending environment at the same time. But this is the biggest risk we face; how to avoid Nassim Taleb’s ‘Black Swans’ that could destroy our investment plans. As an options trader Taleb could very easily have been overtaken by black swans if his vision was limited to the distance from his eyeballs to the trading screens he stared at. How wide is yours?
Short of an asteroid strike from another time dimension there really aren’t as many black swans as there are limited perspectives. Many people considered the mortgage meltdown a black swan but there were also quite a number with wider vision who understood how it would all end and some of them made fortunes putting their insights to work. Since we’re multifamily and CRE investors, not leveraged derivative traders we probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to go short the apartment building in that bad neighborhood but how do we develop that wider perspective and still have time to do any investing?
What a month it was for apartment building investment loan rates. The week we were all wondering How is Columbus Day Still a Thing? The 10yr rate we track fell to a low of 4.139% with the spread between it and the 10yr Treasury (T10) breaking below 2% to 1.929 (See below for details on both). I have to hand it to the ULI, they’re good. They had just said:
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:
The latest ULI/EY (Urban Land Institute/Ernst & Young) Commercial and Apartment forecast shows that respondents expect price growth to slow during the next three years but they expect better growth than when queried in April this year:
Back in Q2 the economists and real estate pros thought prices would appreciate 7% this year and 5.7% in both 2015 and 2016. Now they expect 10% growth this year and 5.7% next year falling to 5% the year after. These kinds of surveys and charts usually set off all kinds of behavioral economics warning bells in my head but I’ll let you be the judge… The web piece is here, the full report here.
That said, this chart probably is the clearest depiction of how the statistician drowned in water that averaged only three feet deep. What happened to those deals underwritten with the average growth number when 2008 and 2009 came along? To avoid this fate I highly recommend reading Sam Savage’s The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty (http://amzn.to/PKIaOc on Amazon)