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Multifamily's Local Guys Are Back, But The Game's Changed

Chicago Multifamily

We often wonder: Could Jordan, Bird, and Magic perform in today’s whizbang international NBA? Local multifamily investors have reentered the market, but they may need a new playbook to keep up with the changing landscape. Here are the big stories:

Full court press: A deep and broad recovery


Beyond multifamily’s well-documented hot streak in areas like River North and the West Loop, you’ll find activity in neighborhoods far beyond the yuppie core and well into the suburbs, First Western Properties prez and managing broker Paul Tsakiris (second from right, snapped with the team after receiving investment sales and retail leasing volume honors at the CARLys) tells us. (He’ll be on the panel at Bisnow’s Chicago Multifamily Summit on April 8.) Apartment buildings in the ‘burbs are even selling for close to $100k/unit (once as rare an occurrence as Shaq making a free throw). In the city, investors needing product have branched out into areas like Portage Park and Belmont Cragin, he says.

Playoff-style competition: A laundry list of new buyers


Who are this market’s new buyers? (Is it babies? Are they investing early?) First are the old local regulars. They were decimated by the recession, but they’re back and stabilized after a significant absence, Paul says. Then you’re seeing: funds (national and global); New York and West Coast buyers (with their lower cost of capital); and hungry EB-5 investors. EB-5 is a path to citizenship for international investors, meaning they’re not necessarily prioritizing price, Paul says. Example: First Western sold a 2,500 SF building at 215 E Grand (formerly Mary's Cafe, above) to an EB-5 investor, who paid $592/SF (market value was $400/SF).

Offense: Dynamic and sustainable


More players involved make for a healthier market and lasting recovery, Paul says. Especially the local guys. They’re more long-term buyers with different objectives from funds, holding and improving upon assets in a way that Chicago has desperately needed. The gears are even whirring for neighborhood developers, who are buying up land for small projects (above), he tells us. But renewed interest in the suburbs and the South Side won’t turn into a frenzy, thanks to the still-cautious banks. (Can’t wear out your starters with too many minutes in the first half.) Paul’s prediction: multifamily values will increase by 5% to 7% and rents will increase 3% to 5%. Sounds like this game’s headed into overtime. (Interested in learning about more multifamily trends? Register for our event.)