Tight apartment supply may trigger a sales uptick
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Limited supply of apartment buildings and more attractive financing available indicate a coming uptick in sales in the multi-housing market, a new report says.
Calum Weaver, director of operations at CB Richard Ellis's multi-housing private client group, says mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are offering more attractive financing for this product type.
"You can still get good leverage around 75% loan-to-value [ratio] whereas for other property types it's probably harder to achieve that," he said. "It gives you an advantage."
Limited new supply of apartment rental units is another factor at hand.
The number of apartments in South Florida is still 12% under the peak seen in the second quarter of 2003, which is likely to create a pent-up demand for apartments, the CB Richard Ellis multi-housing market update report released this month shows.
The collapse of the housing market and credit freeze paralyzed most planned multi-housing projects, leading to a shrinking inventory.
Less than 3,000 apartment units are under construction today in South Florida and it could be several years before construction begins anew, the report says. The limited supply is forecast to drive rents up.
The demand from renters is expected to come in part from young professionals who moved back to parents' home or added roommates in the depths of the recession, the report indicates. As the economy turns up, they're likely to seek apartments for rent.
This younger group is expected to rent rather than buy because many are delaying marriage and children to develop their careers. Plus, the report says, the still-visible aftermath of the home mortgage crisis could deter many of them from homeownership.
Buyers are ready to play.
Well-capitalized investors are entering the multi-housing market in Florida looking to snatch up good deals on apartment buildings, Mr. Weaver said.
"The fundamentals of the apartment market down here are strong," he said. "Financing is available on conventional deals. Limited new supply and favorable long-term trends are factors."
Because of all these factors, Mr. Weaver expects cap rates to decrease going forward "because the demand to buy is greater than the supply."
For example, cap rates for well-located properties are down 50-plus basis points from their peak in the first half of 2009, the report indicates.
A lack of desirable deals to buy is also pushing cap rates lower, he says. The capital is there for attractive properties and more is expected to be invested through this year.
For now, government and lenders are seeking an orderly liquidation versus heavy trading at discounted prices as happened in the early 1990s, Mr. Weaver notes in the report.
"Loan terms are being modified to allow time for recovery before seeking a capital event," he said. "Traditional owners such as REITs [real estate investment trusts] and pension funds are under less pressure to sell and are becoming more interested in finding ways to purchase assets at current per unit levels than sell."