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 proprietary data is vitally important to your investment success:
Dividend Capital’s Q3 Market Cycle Monitor Report is out and naturally I looked at the apartment building investment cycle chart first. Specifically these days I’m looking to see where the author, Glenn R. Mueller Ph.D. has placed the Seattle market in the cycle.
Axiometrics was out with their National Monthly Apartment Trends report which includes a couple of cool charts, one is a map of their top 88 markets coded by rent growth (below). The one that caught my eye though was showing Occupancy, Effective Rents and Revenues:
From their latest National Monthly Trends report: Class C properties took the lead for annual effective rent growth in August. Class A properties had been the leader in that category as the apartment market improved over the past few years, but the Class A annual growth rate slowed from 4.73% in May to 3.70% in August. Why has the growth rate slowed so much in just the past few months? Is it tied to job growth, which weakened in May? Is the first wave of new supply starting to impact performance as we show new apartment deliveries nationally jumping from about 13,000 in the first quarter to over 17,000 in the second quarter and 25,000 in the third quarter? Or is it simply because a $75 increase this year is not as big of a relative change as it was a year ago since the denominator in the rent growth equation keeps getting larger? The answer is likely due partially to all three situations, but the weighting of each factor can vary by market. However, new supply could play an even larger role next year than it will this year.