“Workforce” Apartments Gaining Investors’ Interest

High-end apartments have attracted most investment dollars during the almost 10-year bull run that began at the end of the Great Recession, but now more affordable units are getting attention from investors. From the Wall Street Journal:

A venture led by Prudential Financial Inc. is spending nearly $600 million for 4,000 housing units aimed at lower-income workers, the latest sign that investors see bigger gains in lower-rent apartments than in the upscale ones that have led the recovery.

These so-called workforce housing units usually are in older buildings that cater to price-conscious renters, paying about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom unit. Around 6.3 million units, or about 41% of all the rental apartments in the U.S., fall into the workforce category, according to CoStar Group Inc., which tracks buildings that are five units and greater…

Workforce housing rents are increasing at a faster rate than upscale units because of high demand and the dearth of new supply. Meanwhile, most of the 100,000 units that become obsolete annually fall into the workforce and affordable category, according to a report set to be released by commercial real-estate-services firm CBRE Group Inc. later this week.

Mr. Munk, of PGIM, pointed out that investing in relatively small improvements to workforce housing units —like a new carpet or a washer and dryer—can produce a big payoff in a higher rent. “If we can spend $10,000 to improve a particular unit, that could potentially bring in $200 a month more in rent,” he said.

A Menu of Ideas for Addressing the Affordable Housing Crunch

Nancy Burke, VP of Government & Community Affairs at the Colorado Apartment Association, wrote an article for the Colorado Real Estate Journal that summarizes the challenges faced by the multifamily industry in terms of developing affordable housing and offers a nice overview of the many different approaches being taken around the country to address the ever-increasing demand for affordable housing solutions. Here’s a taste:

Thirty-two percent of multifamily construction cost is from regulation. The National Association of Home Builders and NMHC states regulation imposed by government accounts for an average of 32.1 percent of multifamily construction costs. Building codes, development requirements, impact fees, inspections and other fees contribute to this highly regulated industry, which translates into higher rents and reduced affordability.

Lack of labor, land prices and costs of materials have increased over 30 percent in the past two years. The not-in-my-backyard movement and moratoriums placed on multifamily construction equate to millions of dollars in legal fees and slows the time for units to reach the market. Blocking new development doesn’t keep people from moving in, but it usually prices people out of the neighborhood. Building more lessens the likelihood of displacement and gentrification…

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created a “landlord task force” to look at incentives and reduce regulatory requirements in the complicated process of offering housing choice vouchers. Onboarding each renter costs nearly $1,300.

Minneapolis incentivizes landlords to retain a 40 percent tax abatement if 20 percent of the units are set aside for 60 percent area median income or less, for a 10-year term.

New Orleans is constructing a co-living roommate model arrangement in a multifamily building near downtown. It features furnished rooms, paper products and house cleaning for under $1,300 per month. Management is working with AirBnB to allow residents to rent their rooms and retain 75 percent of the proceeds…

Denver is a point of reference in affordable housing solutions, too. City Council recently adopted the Lower Income Voucher Equity Denver program, the first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership highlighting an integrated, transitional, two-year affordable housing model that is being considered in other cities. It is designed for working citizens earning $23,000 to $67,000 (40 to 80 percent AMI) that leverages employer and foundation support to buy down rents.

 

Texas Company Buys Greensboro Apartment Community

Continuing a recent trend of companies based outside of the Piedmont Triad purchasing local apartment communities, a Texas company has purchased a 336-unit Greensboro property. From the Triad Business Journal:

A Texas real estate company has purchased a large Triad apartment complex for $16.3 million, with plans to make more than $3 million in renovations over the next two years.

Artesia Real Estate of Austin, Texas, bought Mallard Lake Apartments in Greensboro. The seller was an LLC managed by Robert Canham, president of Sunchase American of Greensboro, which also manages the community.

Artesia principal Colin Brothers told Triad Business Journal that 3 Points Property of Raleigh will take over management of the 336-unit development at 2905 Cottage Place, just northeast of Greensboro Science Center off Lawndale Drive, in mid-December. The apartments are only a few minutes from various retailers on the Battleground Avenue corridor…

Brothers told TBJ that renovations would begin soon, starting with exterior improvements. Interiors will be upgraded units become available. Brothers said plans are still under development. He said various subcontractors would be hired. The community has two pools and a clubhouse.

How Will Tariffs Affect Multifamily Development?

In a post on the BMO Harris Bank site, Managing Director and Head of US Commercial Real Estate Kim Liautaud looks at how tariffs could impact multifamily development:

In the multifamily market, project underwriting has tightened across the board because capital providers are concerned that the sector is late in the cycle, according to Chris McKee, head of development at CRG, the real estate development arm of Clayco. McKee explains that while trended rents used to attract equity providers, there’s now a reluctance to underwrite projects unless they’re at flat rents. Tariffs have only exacerbated that effect.

“We’re seeing contractors start to plan for increased costs,” McKee says. “Steel and aluminum companies know the tariff increases are coming, and they’re passing the costs along to general contractors. With flat rents and construction costs on the rise, spreads have been squeezed and multifamily projects became more difficult to underwrite. Tariffs have only added to that, and that trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

McKee notes that trended rents still drive multifamily developments in certain markets where availability is tight, such as Seattle, Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and Inland Empire in Southern California. Less constricted markets, however, require more caution. “You may get squeezed a little bit by those cost increases because you may not have the rent increases that you would get in some of the tighter submarkets,” McKee says…

When it comes to managing multifamily projects, McKee stresses focusing on fundamentals and relationships. “Look for the right opportunity in the right location,” he says. “If you have a long-standing relationship with an equity or debt provider, you can make a case for rent increases specific to a high-growth micro-market, such as Tampa or Fort Worth. It’s an advantage to have pre-existing relationships with equity lenders who trust and believe in you. So when you go to show them something, they know you’ll deliver.”

Apartment Communities in Winston-Salem and Greensboro Sold

The Triad Business Journal recently published a story about the sales of two Triad apartment communities:

Six affiliates of the New Jersey-based WG Portfolio are the new owners of Twin City Townhomes in Winston-Salem. The companies paid $10.15 million for the apartment community, according to records on file with the Forsyth County Register of Deeds…

The companies owned the complex for less than a year, paying $7.8 million on Nov. 29, 2017, according to Forsyth County property records. The property occupies about 40 acres and has 27 buildings…

In Greensboro, Margate on Cone Apartments also has new owners.

According to the Guilford County Register of Deeds, Margate CGC LLC of New York and Beth Cone LLC of California paid about $10.6 million for the apartments at 900 E. Cone Blvd…

The complex last sold in 2005 for $6.9 million

Labor Shortage a Challenge for Apartment Developers

Nationwide there is still ample demand for new apartments, but a shortage in construction labor is limiting the number of units being delivered. From an article on Realtor.com:

Rising construction costs and a tight labor market are slowing a nearly decade long apartment boom, likely easing a burgeoning glut at the top end of the market that has been forming across the U.S.

Multifamily building permits have fallen each month since March, according to federal data. That type of slowdown suggests there should be less new apartment construction over the next two years, the typical time it takes to build an apartment property of any scale…

“The demand is there,” said Paula Munger, the National Apartment Association’s director of industry research and analysis, referring to tenants. “But labor’s a big deal. It varies by position, but in general that’s what we’re hearing from our members. The actual completions are being more and more delayed for that reason.”

One silver lining from the delayed construction is that it will help reduce some of the inventory at the high end of the market, which has seen the most activity over the last few years and reverse the recent slow down in rent growth.

Saying Goodbye to Clyde

PTAA has been supporting Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC since 2003 with a variety of food drives and other projects, and during that time we got to know Clyde Fitzgerald, who was their CEO until retiring earlier this year, very well. Clyde was passionate about feeding the hungry and helping those in our community who had the least, and his energy was infectious. Even though PTAA was never the biggest supporter of Second Harvest in terms of food or money collected, Clyde always made sure we understood how important our efforts were and the difference they made to the community.

We were saddened to learn that Clyde passed away on November 18 and we wanted to share the letter that Second Harvest sent with the news because it truly tells you what kind of person he was. He will be missed by all of us who knew and worked with him.

Dear Friends,
It is with deep sadness that we share that Clyde Fitzgerald, Jr., our former CEO, beloved friend, and passionate advocate for the eradication of hunger in our time, passed away this morning, November 18, 2018.
Our Second Harvest Food Bank family, and all who knew him, will miss Clyde more than words can adequately express. We are committed to honoring his legacy through our continuing work to “provide food and hope to those who have too little of both’ (one of our favorite, always heartfelt, quotes from Clyde).
Clyde was adamant that “hunger is a human tragedy that exists only because we as a community allow it to exist.” Every day, we will strive to achieve his vision, knowing that hunger is a problem that can be solved…working together in our communities.
We will remember these words he shared often and lived by each and every day: “It’s always the right time to help somebody in need.”
In true Clyde fashion, he fought a valiant fight surrounded by his loving wife Carol, their devoted children, his dear friend and predecessor at the helm of Second Harvest Nan Griswold… and lifted in love and respect by his Food Bank family and so, so many special friends.
Today, we all mourn the loss of Clyde in our lives. In the days ahead, many stories of Clyde’s impact in our lives and our community will be remembered and shared. We invite you to share your stories with us, so that we may all take comfort in them through the loss of our friend.
With care,
Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank
and the entire Food Bank family
 
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Piedmont Triad Apartment Market Remains Hot – Where is it Hottest?

Real Data’s October survey results show that the apartment market remains very strong in the Piedmont Triad. Their market summary says it best:

The Triad apartment market is tightening with an average vacancy rate at just 4.0%. Over the last year demand has been strong with 2,348 units absorbed, easily offsetting the 1,595 units added to the supply over the same time period.

The development pipeline includes 2,814 units under construction and another 2,141 units proposed…

The region has posted strong rent growth of 3.8% over the past twelve months. The average rental rate is now $876 per month, as compared to $832 just twelve months ago. One bedroom units average $769, two bedrooms rent for an average of $869 and three bedrooms rent at $1,093 on average.

The report also indicates that the average vacancy rate should hold close to 4.0% for the next year and rents will continue to grow at a yearly rate of 3.5-4.5%.

Source: AptIndex.com

So which submarkets are the hottest in the Triad?

  • Occupancy – Guilford Northeast (97.5%)
  • Average Rent – Guilford Central ($1,091)
  • Average Rent per SF – Forsyth Central ($1.172)
  • Units Under Construction – Forsyth Central (573)

To get a full copy of the Real Data October, 2018 report go to aptindex.com.

One-Off or Early Signs of a Trend?

Those of us who were around pre-Great Recession can remember a time when it was relatively commonplace for apartment communities to be converted to condos. Then the mother of all recessions happened and rental housing became the most lucrative, and safest, real estate game in town and we stopped seeing those conversions – if anything we saw condos converting to rental units.

That’s what makes the news of this move in Winston-Salem pretty interesting. From a story in the Triad Business Journal:

Winston-Salem investors Ben Bloodworth and Taylor Williams purchased the 836 Oak Street Lofts apartments in downtown Winston-Salem for $2.75 million with plans to convert the 26 apartments in the former mill facility into condos.

The purchase included 1.22 undeveloped acres adjacent to the apartments.

Bloodworth told Triad Business Journal that all current leases would be honored, and the units would be upfitted and sold as the leases expire.

Downtown Winston-Salem is experiencing a boom of new housing, retail, restaurants and entertainment with the growth of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, including the Bailey Power Plant, and the office renovation projects at the GMAC tower.

Downtown Winston-Salem is a particularly hot market in the Triad right now, so this might portend a larger trend across the region, but it will be interesting to see if other investors follow suit, especially in the downtown markets of the Triad’s cities.

GCAA Names New Executive Director

Today the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association had a big announcement:

The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association (“GCAA”) has named Kim S. Graham as its new executive director.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Kim as our new executive director,” said Jennings Snider, president of the GCAA board of directors and Chief Financial Officer with SYNCO Properties. “Kim is an outstanding fit for us, given her strong background in housing, public policy, community engagement and nonprofits. Her management and interpersonal skills are peerless. This is a landmark day for the GCAA.”

Graham most recently served as senior vice president of outreach and fund development with The Housing Partnership, a Charlotte-based housing nonprofit corporation. She will assume her duties on December 1, replacing Ken Szymanski, who will retire at the end of 2018 concluding an illustrious 32-year tenure as GCAA’s executive director.

“I’m honored to have been selected by the board to lead this dynamic organization. I look forward to building on the foundation created by Ken, the professional staff, engaged board and members at the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association,” said Graham.

During her time with The Housing Partnership, Graham doubled the organization’s grant revenue while implementing place-based programs to protect seniors from tax lien foreclosure and expanded access to resources for neighborhood improvement projects. Graham’s experience also includes stints with United Way of Central Carolinas as its public policy manager and with the NC Parent Teachers Association as a regional program manager. Prior to that, Graham worked in the private sector for national and mid-market public accounting firms.

Graham holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Johnson C. Smith University and a Master of Public Administration degree in urban management and policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“This is an exciting day for the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association. Kim has the consensus-building tools, insight and resolve to ensure that we grow and stay relevant. Her skills and demeanor are such a good fit for the GCAA,” said Szymanski.

About The Greater Charlotte Apartment Association

Established in 1977, the GCAA is a trade association of multifamily rental housing developers, owners, managers and suppliers. Collectively, its members house over 300,000 persons in every income strata, every geography, and every ethnicity of the Charlotte region.