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5 Trends Defining Multifamily In 2016

Even losing a bit of its luster, multifamily still outshines pretty much all of commercial real estate. After a blockbuster year of deliveries, growing demand and incredible rent growth, we dug around for what to expect in 2016. Here are five trends to watch.

1. Millennials


There are almost 80 million Millennials (aka Gen Y ages 20 to 37) in the US; half of them are renters and one-quarter live at home (probably on Periscope at this moment). That group makes up one of the largest sources of new demand for rental housing, says Transwestern VP Philip Wiegand. Millennials wait longer to buy homes, many times it’s because they're renters by choice but also because of student debt, which has topped $1.3 trillion nationally (it was $500B in 2006). Fewer Millennials are able to save for down payments on single-family homes, either, Philip says. That has increased apartment demand because they are forced to be renters for longer periods of time. Pictured: Philip (left) and Transwestern managing director Taylor Snoddy and their wives at the Golden Globes celebrating a successful 24 months; the team has sold 15,000 units across North Texas in that time span.

2. Uneven Supply & Demand


The 101,000 new jobs added in DFW in 2015 through Nov. 30 kept rents and occupancy high. Along with the jobs come the people to fill them. That population growth is benefiting all sectors of real estate, says The Cantrell Co partner Sam Pettigrew (pictured with his daughters). There’s been minimal new home construction, which is driving up median home prices to $200k in DFW and contributing to the higher rents and occupancy as many people are priced out of the home market, Sam tells us. Apartment construction, however, is at its highest point in North Texas since the 1980s. Just last year, Dallas and Tarrant counties had 13,621 multifamily units completed; 16,872 were absorbed. 

3. Rent Growth


Along with more people than supply comes rent increases, Sam says. Effective rents in the Greater Dallas area rose from December 2014 to December 2015 from $956 to $1,032 for a 7.9% increase. The stabilized market saw similar numbers with occupancy up also about 1% and effective rent up 6.5%. In the Greater Fort Worth area, the effective rent jumped even more from $833 to $907 for an 8.8% increase. For stabilized properties, occupancy went from 93.9% to 94.7% and effective rents jumped from $826 to $891 for a 7.9% increase. Pictured: Dove Park, a 160-unit property in Amarillo that Sam closed recently in an off-market deal.

4. Units Follow Jobs


Sam says Uptown commands some of DFW’s highest apartment rents. The Gables apartments (pictured) above Whole Foods is asking $3 per SF; the average cost of a new apartment in Uptown is $1,800 a month. Additionally, the Alliance-North Fort Worth corridor is attracting big corporate users like Facebook (with its $1B data center under construction) and another industrial campus in Northlake started by Hillwood. With all the new jobs coming, the housing market is tight. A good example: Hillwood’s apartments in Alliance Town Center are nearly filled. 

5. Secondary Markets Attractive


Priced out of the Uptown projects? It’s one reason buyers continue to venture into Texas’ secondary markets in the elusive search for better yield. There tends to be less competition than a primary market and the inventory is limited, says Transwestern VP James Roberts (here, with his family). Buyers are looking for a value-add story while taking advantage of the low interest rate environment. Transwestern just hit the market with a 172-unit, Class-B asset in Longview, along with two other properties in Nacogdoches and Greenville. James says he expects these properties to receive significant interest from investors.