From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Archive for February 6th, 2012

Marcus & Millichap’s Apartment Report

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Of the major commercial real estate brokerage firms, Marcus and Millichap seem to consistently do the best job of thoughtful and insightful research.  We track their work regularly here at Greenfield.  Their 2012 Apartment Report just hit our desks, and it follows our expectations of excellent work on their part.

courtesy Marcus & Millichap

The apartment sector is rebounding nicely, but because of the intersection of favorable demographics and unfavorable economics. It’s driven by pent-up demand among “prime renters” (young adults who want to “unbundle” from parents and roommates) who would potentially have become homeowners a few years ago. Development had been stagnant for a few years, leaving the market with a potential shortage in supply. Developers, lenders, and investors had a brief pause late last year, but M&M expects to see steady additions to supply over the next three years.


courtesy Marcus & Millichap

As a result of all of this, vacancy rates are trending downward, and are expected to hit 5% this year (down from a peak of about 8% in 2009). This has the effect of driving up rents to historically high levels, even after a net decline from 2008 to 2009. With all this, apartment transactions are back up to pre-2009 levels, while the average price per unit is now topping $90,000 (up nearly to the peak of 2006) and cap rates are down in the 6.5% range (still off the trough of about 5.5% seen in the 2006-2006 period).



courtesy Marcus & Millichap

The surprising upshot of all of this is that apartment cap rates are still at record high spreads over the 10-year Treasury long-term average.  Market participants got nervous back in the 2006 period, when the spread had shrunk to 90 basis points (from a more “normal” rage of 380 to 430 basis points experienced since the S&L crisis 15 years earlier).  Today, the spread is at 460 basis points, reflecting a bit of continued risk-aversion on the part of market participants, along with historic low rates on treasuries.

Written by johnkilpatrick

February 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

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