Is Multifamily Still A Good Investment This Year?

Yes, apartments are still a good investment, but for more fundamental reasons than during the past eight years. What I mean by this is apartments have always been a good investment. Unlike other commercial real estate investments, apartments are tied much more to residential trends and demographics.

Photo Credit:   Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Starting in 2010 and continuing through early 2018, the fallout from the crash and recession created an imbalance in homeownershipthat gave rise to an increase in apartment rental rates. The rent increase directly correlates to an increase in the value of apartment buildings. But apartments are still a good investment for traditional reasons versus heavy appreciation, even with changing circumstances such as rising interest rates, rising property taxes and a potential recession. If investors focus on property fundamentals, hone their investment strategy and conservatively underwrite for today’s market, apartments are still a high-performing investment in 2019.

A normalization of value appreciation in apartments is usually related to a projection of flatness in net operating income (NOI). Historically, flatness of NOI is anticipated when two primary drivers occur: rent softness (meaning rents are not growing well) and anticipated interest rate increases. The current market seems to have both of these factors. Current rent softness comes from years of rent growth and a large supply of new construction units being delivered and a large supply of new construction units being delivered. Interest rates in Q4 2018 are higher than Q4 2017, and more increases are forecasted for 2019. Locally in Chicago, the third factor for NOI flatness is property tax increases, as city, county and state government continually raise taxes to increase revenue.

Focus On Fundamentals

For apartment investing, that’s the bad news. The good news is that if you focus on the fundamentals and invest for the long term, apartments are still the most compelling product type in commercial real estate. The key reason for this is simple, if trite: People always need a place to live. For investing in apartment buildings, remember three fundamental factors of location, value-add and underwriting.

Location is the primary factor for any real estate investment, but what makes a location good varies by product type (residential, industrial, office, apartment, retail, etc.). For apartments, good location usually means easy access to centers for employment and transportation (e.g., public or highway access).

Hone Investment Strategy

Value-add means ways to increase the value of your property. Increasing the NOI of the property despite the market in general projecting flatness for NOI is one of the best ways. The obvious is making physical improvements that result in higher rent (i.e., new kitchen cabinets). The less obvious maybe how to decrease expenses or create better operational efficiencies. Other ways to add value may have to do with overall returns over the lifespan of the investment. A trend right now for achieving this is investing in Opportunity Zones. These investments reduce or eliminate your capital gains, thus significantly increasing your overall returns.

Article Resource: Forbes