Marcus & Millichap U.S. Apartment Outlook 1st Quarter 2010

Just updated! Be sure to see the new version for January 2011.

 

Marcus & Millichap is one of the nation’s largest real estate investment firms. Nearly every quarter they webcast a summary of the current and near future conditions of the multifamily market. The most recent one was released  on May 13, and included the numbers from the first quarter of 2010. Following are a few of the highlights.

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The first section was on the U. S. economy as a whole. Most of their comments were positive and upbeat. Employment is neutral or better, retail sales are coming back strongly, the employment trends are becoming positive and inflation is not a major concern. However, the housing recovery is still volatile. Thanks in part to the tax credit for first-time home buyers, the housing inventory is dropping and sales are rising. However, it’s too early to tell how the end of the tax credit will affect these trends, but it probably won’t enhance them.

People who are 18-34 years old make up the largest cohort of potential apartment residents, and 20 million of them are living at home, with that number still rising. Also, the unemployment rate for that age group is substantially higher than the not-so-great national average. Once the job market returns to full throttle, many of these people will be looking for a place of their own. That’s good news for apartment owners, but it does lie a year or two in the future.

The middle section was on capital market trends. It started off on a positive note, saying that confidence is returning, as shown by a recent rise in the number of multifamily property sales.

Deals are getting done. Freddie, Fannie and HUD are major lenders, and some local and regional banks are lending. It looks like insurance companies are starting to get interested in the multifamily market again, as well.

On the other hand, investors are up against constrained underwriting standards. Lenders are dealing with three major concerns. First of all, it’s difficult to determine values with so few sales to look at. Also, property fundamentals are still going down in some markets. Plus, they are concerned about the shadow market.

And lingering over everything is the current Euro debt crisis. The U. S. hasn’t been hit much by it yet, but as we’ve recently learned, all the markets are intertwined to a certain extent.

The final section was specifically about the apartment market.

For several cycles now, Marcus & Millichap has divided apartment investors into two camps. On the one hand are those who believe in the long-term inherent value of apartments. Most of these are would-be sellers and are hanging on to their properties if they can, believing good times are just around the corner. Forced to sell, they price their properties to reflect their belief in its value.

On the other hand are investors who are interested in buying now, but are dealing with hard-to-get loans, high vacancy and falling rents. Some are still anticipating a wave of foreclosures that could bring deep discounts. So you can see why there is a wide gap between sellers and buyers, resulting in infrequent sales.

However, there are signs that 2010 will see an increase in transactional velocity. In the first quarter of 2010, there was a 60% increase in dollars paid for properties worth at least $10 million, compared to the year before.

Another sign is the shift in who is buying now. More sophisticated groups are getting back in. In 2009, REITs made up only 5% of the multifamily buyers. But in the first quarter of 2010, they made up 18% of the buying pool. Similarly, institutional buyers grew from 5% to15%.

They concluded with a slide listing the seven reasons Marcus & Millichap is bullish on the apartment market for the next ten years.

  1. The population will continue to grow.
  2. The echo-boomers will start getting places of their own.
  3. Apartments are a good environmental housing choice.
  4. Budget and expense factors.
  5. No new stock coming online
  6. Apartments are more affordable than houses.
  7. Many will decide home ownership is no longer their dream.

The Marcus & Millichap team plans to put on another session roughly every 90 days, so look for the next one in August. To see the entire presentation, click here.

And here is where you can see the apartment forecast for 2011.

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