A similar article was originally published in NuWire Investor.
Demand for multifamily housing has increased recently as, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, consumers are more likely to be renters, largely because the financial impact of that downturn made it harder for them to return directly to the home ownership market. Some real estate investors are turning to multifamily properties to capitalize on this rising demand.
A surge in multi-family construction powered solid gains in home building through October. A recent U.S. Multifamily MarketView report by CBRE, a global real estate firm, predicted that real estate investments in multifamily properties in the U.S. in 2014 could break a pre-recession high, indicating investors are confident in the state of the market and demand for buildings like apartments. The report said multifamily investment could be more than $105 billion, the record established in 2007.
"Multifamily continues to lead commercial real estate through the recovery and into expansion," said Brian McAuliffe, senior managing director for multifamily at CBRE Capital Markets, according to Real Estate Weekly.
McAuliffe identified three trends that characterize recent real estate investment activity.
- More private, non-institutional buyers are accounting for a greater share of total investment activity
- Foreign capital is playing a larger role than it historically did in multifamily property investments
- Real estate investment trusts are playing a less active role in multi-family property investments
Downward pressure on cap rates and increasing sales prices per unit reflect the large volume of capital committed to the sector, as multifamily investors continue to have a favorable view of this asset class. The average apartment sales price per unit was $128,000 in Q3 2014, representing an increase of 5.9% over the prior year.
What's Driving the Multifamily Market Surge?
“That’s where all the demand is,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at real estate website Trulia.
"Nearly all of new household formation right now is renters. Young people are starting to move out of their parents' homes, and both young and older adults are having a hard time buying houses."
The CBRE report identifies several other factors helping to drive demand. With the labor market strengthening and income growing, there is greater potential for the release of pent-up household formation. This could keep demand and rent growth at their current pace through 2015. A focus in the report on the Miami market, for example, showed that strong demand for apartments has outstripped supply since 2008, resulting in a low 2.4% vacancy rate in Q3 2014 and record-high monthly rents.
Other market areas are showing similar growth. USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate predicts that average rents across Southern California are projected to grow 8% over the next two years.
As real estate investors often consider expanding their portfolios with multifamily properties because they bring in more monthly revenue and reduce the cost of maintenance compared to single-family homes, the competition for properties is also growing fiercer.
In the third quarter of 2014 alone, multifamily sales volume jumped 28 percent from the same period last year to reach $27.5 billion, World Property Journal reported, citing the findings of the CBRE report.
Future of Multifamily Investment
Both investors and borrowers are likely to see rising investment opportunities in multifamily housing with this potentially record-breaking year.
“Consistent with the robust sales activity, we continue to see strong lender demand for multifamily loans,” said CBRE Capital Markets Senior Managing Director Peter Donovan. “As a result, borrowers are seeing increasingly more attractive debt terms with respect to pricing and interest only. The lending market continues to show underwriting discipline with respect to proceeds and structure.”
Accredited investors using peer-to-peer marketplaces like Realty Mogul to review opportunities in commercial real estate crowdfunding, might well review these trends when considering investments in larger multi-family residential properties.
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