A MacArthur Foundation survey conducted by Hart Research Associates shows that 70% of Americans polled think that the housing crises isn’t over and 19% think the worst is yet to come, good for apartment building investment I believe. As reported by the Wall St. Journal in an article titled: Allure of Homeownership Slumps Amid Worries of Continued Crisis the worst is yet to come figure is unchanged from last year, which may reflect a segment of the population that has been deeply scarred by collapse of the lending and housing bubbles. The still in the crises figure is down from 77% a year ago but it is still a big number that’s having a positive effect on apartment demand:
Are there yet more new renters on the way? More new demand for apartment building investors? Bill McBride over at Calculated Risk has a piece out today on the latest Mortgage Monitor from Black Knight. Reams of data all organized nicely into charts and the good news is that the percent of of mortgages with negative equity has dropped to 10% but…
The numbers on mortgages that have been modified are in far worse shape and the story can be told in two charts. The first (on page 20 of the Monitor) showing that there are almost two million modified loans facing interest rate resets, meaning that the mortgage payment could be going up. The second chart completes the picture:
The Urban Land Institute/PriceWaterhouseCoopers annual report on Emerging Trends for Real Estate 2014 was released last week and apartment building investors and commercial real estate pros have some good things to look forward to next year. Note that this post refers to the Americas version of the report with separate sections on Canadian and Latin American markets but they also publish Asia-Pacific and European editions as well. This is the 35th edition of the report is it’s based on individual interviews or surveys from more than 1,000 investors, fund managers, developers, property companies, lenders, brokers, advisers, and consultants.
Here are the 5 key trends we should all be aware of with my comments:
Survey participants continue to rank private direct real estate investment as having the best investment prospects. Pretty expected from this group but the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF) recently released its property performance index for the third quarter of 2013 and on a trailing 12-month basis, the index’s return was 11.0 percent, split about 50/50 between income and appreciation. A pretty nice return compared to fixed income rates and a much safer looking bet than buying equities at their all time highs.
Dependence on cap rate compression to drive value is being replaced by an emphasis on asset management. Especially in the 24 hour gateway markets apartment building cap rates are about as low as they can get (well until you look at Vancouver BC) so property performance has to come from actually making the property perform. You also have the problem of what to do with your proceeds if you do sell, as you would be reinvesting right back into the same cap rate market that you sold in… unless you changed to a higher cap rate sector, suburban strip centers anyone?
Opportunities to develop property are finally appearing in sectors other than multifamily. CBRE Econometrics had a piece out last week showing that large (> 350k sf) warehouse properties are being snapped up as fast as they’re being built. Maybe developers who moved over to doing apartments the last few years will move back to their home sectors and ease off on the new supply of multifamily units.
Value-added investment ranked highest in terms of investment strategy; distressed properties and distressed debt ranked last. We were licking our chops a few years ago waiting for RTC 2.0 fire sales to begin and while we were able take down some bank owned inventory, the anticipated tsunami of defaults on commercial loans never materialized. At this point most everything has been extended and pretended into performing status or sold off and so it’s back to making money the old fashion way: Finding and/or creating value.
Both equity investors and lenders are widening their search for business to include secondary markets and niche property types. This will be a double edged sword for investors who are focused on those secondary and tertiary markets as debt financing will be more available but there will also be more competition from sophisticated outsiders with deep pockets. The key will be to make them your buyers so dig in, find the right properties and tie them up quickly.
The recovery has been good (What crash? good in a few) in some areas, seemingly non-existent in others and in many a slow grinding process that has yet been unable to return to pre-crash levels. The first thing that everyone should look at is job growth but Florida looked deeper into High Wage growth around the country:
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:
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 http://www.duprescott.com.
Tom Barrack was on CNBC last week to talk about real estate with the traders. Great TB quote to open the show: “It’s always great to be the slowest guy on Fast Money”. There’s more wisdom in that statement than any of the show’s regulars understood.
A couple bullet points but definitely worth watching the video. The link on the image below goes to the Colony website where they edited the three segments together (commercial free too):
Housing [of all types] is the best opportunity. Today there might be a Fed bubble but there isn’t a housing bubble.
The rise in interest rates while not big and still low historically speaking, will hit entry level housing. 100bp (basis point, where 100bp = 1%) rise in interest rates will cost a borrower an extra $150+/- a month on their mortgage payment for a $200,000 home. That will keep more people renting.
The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) Eye on Housing out late last week included a chart of 5+ unit apartment building construction and absorption in the US. Built with the latest data from the Census Bureau’s SOMA (Survey of Market Absorption of Apartments, xls available here) is shows that absorption is holding in around 65% even while construction of new units is picking up:
According to the ASU W.P. Carey School of Business’ Phoenix Housing Market Explained presentation, PHX will have to add housing equal to the current size of the Denver metro area over the next two or three decades to hold all the people who will move there. This presentation was done in March of this year but the demographics are powerful and still operating. Watch minutes 5 to 25 for the market demographics, after that they dive into the specifics of the single family sector recovery.