2014 Apartment Strategies Outlook & Annual Meeting Recap

Apartment Strategies Outlook Conference Examines Multifamily Market Dynamics  

The weather may have been unseasonably brisk during NMHC’s annual January meetings held January 21-23 in Boca Raton, Fla., but the cooler temperatures hardly put a chill on the events and activities. The three days of programming kicked off on Tuesday, as another record number of industry executives gathered for the annual Apartment Strategies Outlook Conference.
Preceding NMHC’s Annual Meeting, the conference was a full day devoted to high-level discussion and presentation of the latest industry data and emerging business trends. Leading industry experts covered topics such as obstacles to new apartment development and the effect of the single-family housing market on apartments and debated the best multifamily markets and strategies for winning in those markets going forward.
However, the central takeaway from the conference was that the industry has moved into the next phase of the recovery cycle. Much of the industry’s whiplash-inducing acceleration has moderated and a few warning lights have started to flicker in the market. While industry leaders are paying close attention to these shifting signs, underlying multifamily fundamentals remain solid, leaving them to believe that the industry’s run is still far from over.
For the full scoop on all the discussion at the Apartment Strategies Outlook Conference, click on the stories below:
The Bibby Multifamily Top Ten
NMHC President Doug Bibby digs into the ten statements about the apartment industry most often heard on Capitol Hill and in the media to figure out if there’s any truth in that so-called conventional wisdom.
Development Deals Remain in Demand, But Executives Proceed With More Caution
New development deals still generally offers better returns than acquisitions, but shifting cost factors are starting to sabotage some development deals’ ability to pencil.
Urban Development Transforms Three Major Multifamily Markets
Downtown urban development is driving massive transformation in Dallas, Houston and Seattle. Industry execs say the success is even being replicated in more suburban submarkets .
Hot or Not? Market Researchers Check Out the “Sexy Six”
Two top market researchers give their take on what’s happening (both the good and not so good) in the Sexy Six—Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The Core Markets Aren’t the Only Game in Town
Apartment executives are beginning to look beyond the industry’s go-to core markets for success in secondary and tertiary markets. Detroit over Dallas, anyone?
Single-family Market Gains Strength, But Still Isn't Eating Multifamily's Lunch
The single-family housing market’s rebound hasn’t gone unnoticed. But with the first-time buyer mostly a non-factor in the recovery, apartment executives shouldn’t fear a sudden spike in move-out rates.
Investors Keep Close Watch on New Apartment Supply Levels
Diverse group of multifamily investors discuss the rising number of new apartments set to hit select metro markets and how that’s influencing investment decisions.

NMHC 2014 Annual Meeting Opens with a Focus on Leadership in the Industry and Beyond
Annual Meeting attendees were greeted with a surprise as NMHC President Doug Bibby announced the first-ever rebranding  in the organization’s 36-year history. As part of the initiative, the Council developed a new logo and visual identity, made a small, but important change to its name and added a new tagline that captures the leadership and exclusivity that characterize the organization.

The National Multi Housing Council name changed to the National Multifamily Housing Council to help important stakeholders outside of the industry, namely policymakers, better understand the organization’s focus. A new tagline,  Apartment Leadership Resides Here , reflects NMHC’s reputation as the association of choice for the industry’s prominent apartment owners, managers and developers.  

Bibby also announced that the Council had elected new officers. Daryl J. Carter , founder, chairman and
Daryl J. Carter, NMHC Chairman
CEO of Avanath Capital Management, will serve a two-year term as the NMHC Chairman. Carter replaces Tom Bozzuto , CEO and chairman of The Bozzuto Group, whom NMHC thanks for his wonderful guidance during the past two years. In addition, new officers were appointed, also for two-year terms.

Bob DeWitt , vice chairman, president and CEO of GID, will serve as NMHC vice chairman; Sue Ansel , president and CEO of Gables Residential, as NMHC Treasurer; and David Schwartz , CEO and co-chairman of Waterton Associates, as NMHC secretary.

Beyond association business, the meeting program also included a number of additional highlights that built on theme of leadership.

Doris Kearns Goodwin,
American biographer and author
speaker Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer, historian and political commentator, captivated meeting participants during a conversation moderated by NMHC Treasurer Sue Ansel .  Goodwin outlined the leadership qualities shared by some of America’s most admired presidents—Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 
“The best indicator of leadership success is the ability to withstand adversity and come through trials of fire,” said Goodwin. 
Lincoln was haunted by the early deaths of his mother, sister and, later, son, developing “unparalleled strength and ability to withstand adversity,” she noted. Similarly, Teddy Roosevelt endured early deaths in his family, including his young wife at 22 years old, while FDR braved the physical and emotional heartache that comes with being stricken with polio.
Goodwin also shared some intimate details of who these presidents were, not just leaders but men—from Lincoln’s low-brow humor to Teddy Roosevelt’s exercise regimen to FDR’s extensive stamp collection.
But, according to Goodwin, the other characteristic that made these presidents great leaders was “an unmatched capability to communicate.” (Want to know more? Check out this recent article on Goodwin from The Wall Street Journal; paywall in place.)
These topics of leadership, challenges and communication were revisited during several additional industry-focused programming sessions:
  • Apartment Executives Share Leadership Lessons Learned from the Corner Office
    Two leading executives recount their experience of taking over a company as chief executive—including the good, the bad and the ugly of changing corporate culture. But with patience, both came through the other side and were able to get the in-house buy-in needed to move their companies in more positive directions. “You can’t over estimate the amount of time it takes to make a change,” added on executive.
  • The Keys to Starting and Building a New Enterprise in Multifamily Housing
    Getting started in this competitive business isn’t easy. Three executives with start-up experience share tips on making the best go of it, from showing leadership skills to building the right team. After all, you are only as good as the people you can recruit and retain. “The vision isn’t that hard. It’s building the team–the people [that is],” said one executive.
As testament to NMHC’s commitment to helping develop the industry’s next generation of apartment leaders, the day ended with the third annual “Young Guns Pitch to Senior Leaders” session, where three, under-40 Emerging Leaders presented their best investment deals to a mock investment committee.
This year’s competitors included Kel Frazier and Brendon Sullivan of Berkshire Property Advisors, who presented a large, mixed-use Boston infill opportunity; Ricardo Rivas with Allied Realty, with a unique parcel in the desirable Sugarland submarket of Houston; and Bob Weston with Alliance Residential Company, with a deal for 250 units in the Buckhead submarket of Atlanta.
Congratulations to Weston, who took home the trophy, and many thanks to the investment panel, including Jim Bachner , executive vice president of acquisitions for Heitman; Eric Bolton , chairman and CEO of MAA; and Bob DeWitt , vice chairman, president and CEO of GID.

NMHC Annual Meeting Closes with a Presidential Address and More Discussion of the New Apartment Renter
Walkers and runners of all stripes kicked off the final day of NMHC’s January meetings on Thursday with an early morning fundraising Walk for the Troops. This year’s walk raised an impressive $366,000 to benefit Ride2Recovery , a unique organization that helps military veterans deal with both the physical and emotional hardships associated with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) through cycling. NMHC applauds all the generous supporters of the initiative.
NMHC’s Annual Walk for the Troops raised more than $366,000 for Ride2Recovery.
As he took the stage for a Q&A with NMHC Chairman Daryl Carter , keynote speaker former President Bill Clinton also acknowledged the extraordinary contributions of NMHC members to the Ride2Recovery cause, as well as the many sacrifices of the nation’s veterans.
Throughout the candid conversation, Clinton recognized the positive role that the apartment industry has played in the housing market and overall economy. While he said the federal government must still support homeownership, it also had to recognize that the nation will see an increase in renters in the coming years and must ensure the industry can meet that demand. He also noted that the industry’s financing model works, with the proof lying in the fact that the industry helped drive profits for housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
NNMHC Chairman Daryl J. Carter interviews former President Bill Clinton to close out the 2014
Annual Meeting.
“My gut is there will be a big increase in [apartment] demand, especially in the affordable housing market,” he said. “There’s a big debate in New York City about extending [former] Mayor Bloomberg’s idea to make 20 percent of new units affordable, or Mayor Deblasio’s idea to mandate them, which may affect the number of new units being built. I think you all need to be involved in that debate because it will spill over into even the suburban markets.”
Clinton also talked about the partisan politics and general dysfunction in Washington, D.C. “The rhetoric in Washington is no worse than when I left office, but the implications are greater,” he said. However, he said he remained confident that Congress would move beyond the current stalemate.
“Our founding fathers set up our constitution to force compromise,” he said.
“I think Speaker Boehner and President Obama could work it out, if they were left alone [to talk],” Clinton added. “Boehner’s dad ran a bar and he grew up in a big family, so he had to compromise just to survive. I mean, you don’t make money in a bar by kicking people out because you don’t like what they say. You’ve got to just give them another beer and hope they come around.”
To Clinton’s point about the growing number of apartment residents, the final day of programming also included a session dedicated to understanding the new renter, featuring takeaways from the landmark NMHC-Kingsley Associates survey of apartment resident preferences. The presentation by David C. Smith , COO of Kingsley Associates, highlighted key differences in resident preferences based on a variety of demographic factors, including sex, age, property class, geographic market, income and more.
For example, females proved to be much more interested in a number of apartment and community features than men, including fitness centers, crown molding, pet move-in gifts, walk-in pantries and garbage disposals. Higher income earners were less interested in community activities such as movie nights and ice cream socials, with one major exception—wine tasting events. The opposite was true for Class C property residents, who showed much more interest in community activities.
Two additional programming sessions further explored the concept of the changing renter profile, their evolving needs and apartment firms’ challenges and solutions in serving them:  
All told, this year’s January meeting was one of the best in NMHC history, with fantastic participation from the industry’s leading firms, thoughtful discussion on the industry’s most pressing issues and many opportunities for apartment leaders to share ideas and best practices. This learning and collaboration was only made possible thanks to the incredible base of support from our record-breaking number of sponsors, including suppliers, service providers and owner-operators.  Thank you to all!