News Release

Apartment Markets Soften Slightly According to NMHC Survey

Contact: Jim Lapides, 202/974-2360, jlapides@nmhc.org
For Release: January 16, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Apartment market conditions weakened a bit in January compared with three months earlier. The market tightness (41), sales volume (41) and debt financing (42) indexes were all a little below the breakeven level of 50, although the equity financing index rebounded to 50. Higher interest rates may largely explain the modest decline in both sales volume and debt financing. With considerable equity capital continuing to look for apartment opportunities, a number of respondents noted a growing divide between would-be buyers and sellers on pricing.

“Apartment markets are little changed from October,” said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Economist. “At least half of our respondents to each of our four main questions reported conditions as unchanged from three months earlier. Although markets are a little looser than in October, this is largely seasonal; overall markets remain fairly tight.

“New supply is finally starting to arrive at levels that will more closely match overall demand. In a few markets, we are seeing completions a little higher than absorptions, but this is likely to be short term in nature. Fundamentally, demand for apartment homes should be strong for the rest of the decade (and beyond) – provided only that the economy remains on track.”

Key findings include:

  • The Market Tightness Index declined to 41 from 46. Slightly more than half (56 percent) of respondents reported unchanged conditions, and approximately one-third (31 percent) saw conditions as looser than three months ago. The index last indicated overall improving conditions in July 2013. Some respondents noted that the decline was typical for this time of year and that conditions remain fairly tight.

  • The Sales Volume Index also declined slightly to 41 from 46. This was the third straight quarter that it was below 50. Half of respondents reported sales volumes were unchanged from three months earlier, while one-third reported lower sales than in October. These results were similar to responses from the previous two surveys in July and October 2013.

  • The Equity Financing Index rose to 50 from 39. The majority of respondents (58 percent) continued to report that the availability of equity financing remains unchanged from three months ago. This is the ninth time in the past 10 quarters that more than half of the respondents considered conditions unchanged (and in that other quarter, the figure was 49 percent). Approximately one-fifth of respondents (18 percent) believed that financing was more available than three months prior, essentially the same as the share of respondents (17 percent) that said financing was less available.

  • The Debt Financing Index was essentially unchanged at 42. This was one point higher than the October index, which came in at 41. While this level was significantly below the year-ago figure of 74, half of respondents reported unchanged conditions for debt financing. Almost one-third (30 percent) regarded conditions as worse, in large part due to the rise in interest rates – and the prospect for further increases. Even so, 14 percent of respondents indicated conditions had improved.

  • Opinions continued to be mixed regarding the availability of capital for new development. The consensus was that debt financing was still widely available, but equity financing was perhaps a bit more constrained. Two-fifths of respondents reported both equity and debt financing as widely available, up slightly from October’s 34 percent. An almost equal percentage (39 percent) regarded debt financing as currently available but said equity financing was currently constrained; this figure was down from 43 percent in October. An additional 13 percent believed that both debt and equity financing are currently constrained, down from 21 percent. The remaining 8 percent reported equity financing as widely available, but debt financing constrained. [Note: These shares exclude respondents that chose “Don’t know/not applicable.”]

Full survey data are available online here.

About the survey: The January 2014 Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions was conducted January 6-13, 2014; 157 CEOs and other senior executives of apartment-related firms nationwide responded.

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Based in Washington, D.C., the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is the leadership of the trillion-dollar apartment industry. We bring together the prominent owners, managers and developers who help create thriving communities by providing apartment homes for 35 million Americans. NMHC provides a forum for insight, advocacy and action that enables both members and the communities they help build to thrive. For more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at info@nmhc.org, or visit NMHC's Web site at www.nmhc.org.

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