Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NMHC Survey: Apartment Market Conditions Tighten slightly in July

by Calculated Risk on 7/24/2013 04:03:00 PM

From the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC): Second Quarter Apartment Markets Mixed in Latest NMHC Survey

While demand for apartment homes remained strong, rising interest rates exerted negative pressure on the industry’s ability to secure debt financing according to the National Multi Housing Council’s (NMHC) July Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. Only the Market Tightness Index (55) remained above the breakeven line of 50 this quarter. Sales Volume (46) and Equity Financing (49) dipped, with Debt Financing dropping sharply to 20.

“Debt costs for apartment firms have been rising. In addition to the 90 basis point increase in interest rates from the April survey, spreads over Treasuries have also gone up, likely dampening transactions somewhat. Rates are still low by historical standards, however, and at current levels should not put too big a crimp in apartment activity going forward,” said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Economist. “Underlying demand trends remain strong, and we are approaching the cusp of a meaningful increase in supply that will hopefully be enough to meet the current need for apartment homes.”
Market Tightness Index edged up to 55 from 54. Just 14 percent noted looser conditions in the markets they were familiar with. This represents the 13th time in the last 14 quarters in which the index was over 50.
emphasis added
Apartment Tightness Index
Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the quarterly Apartment Tightness Index. Any reading above 50 indicates tightening from the previous quarter. The quarterly increase was small, but indicates tighter market conditions.  

On supply: Even though multifamily starts have been increasing, completions lag starts by about a year - so the builders are still trying to catch up. There will be many more completions in 2013 and in 2014, than in 2012, increasing the supply.  As Obrinsky noted: "we are approaching the cusp of a meaningful increase in supply".

As I've mentioned before, this index helped me call the bottom for effective rents (and the top for the vacancy rate) early in 2010. This survey now suggests vacancy rates might be nearing a bottom, although apartment markets are still tight, so rents will probably continue to increase.