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Multifamily Market Demand Remains “On Fire”

Connect Apartments brought together more than 350 real estate professionals in Los Angeles for a full day of CRE conversations and networking. Six deep-dive panel discussions featured some of the U.S.’s top CRE leaders who shared insights into the still-hot multifamily market.

The Deal Flow and Dealmakers panels featured brokers, principals, and capital sources who shared what it takes to get a deal done in this market. As the apartment market continues to change, the conversation focused on the challenges and opportunities top multifamily players see across the nation.

Passco’s Gary Goodman believes cycles don’t die of their own volition, and expects any change in the current one to likely occur as a result of a geo-political event. Yet, he says “demand nationwide for multifamily is on fire,” as it is the “only product type with good legs ahead.”

Part of what’s driving demand is the “predisposition to rent,” especially amongst the 75-million strong Millennial group. This demographic segment is putting off marriage, starting families later, and is saddled with student debt. Developers have taken note, with some even offering to pay off college loans if they buy a home. Retiring boomers are also expected to add to the increased demand for multifamily product over the coming 10 to 15 years, notes Goodman.

Goodman says, in order to capture “intrinsic value, you really have to get aggressive right now. Enormous demand and lack of supply is driving cap rates down.” Though he notes the DST investment structure that allows unlimited small investors has allowed them to raise capital “faster that I can buy properties.”

The Bascom Group’s Chad Sanderson says, there’s been a tremendous change in how housing is viewed, as Millennials are more comfortable in a rental lifestyle that aligns better with their mobility desires and frequent job changes. That’s helped drop the homeownership rate from 69% to 63% today and in the coming five to 10 years that number is expected to drop as low as 55%.

Among the reasons cited for Millennials favoring a rental lifestyle include a desire for maximum mobility and the ability to change jobs more frequently, which often involves geographic shifts. Sanderson notes a key metric they look at is the ratio of jobs to construction permits, which has Bascom focused on 15 markets today. The shortage of single family homes has helped fuel demand in the multifamily sector.

For Sanderson, getting deals done today is a simple as “rolling up your sleeves and working hard.” He advises against a “desperate capital” approach by simply “rolling on to the next deal” when competition increases the pricing beyond what your comfort zone will allow. That may mean getting “creative” or looking at “new markets.”

CBRE’s Laurie Lustig-Bower pointed out Los Angeles is priced to do well overall, as high occupancy rates are expected to continue given the long-term lack of development that hasn’t kept pace with demand. She notes there has been demand for 50,000 units, yet just 20,000 have been built creating a situation where the market has been 30,000 units short for decades – and that’s resulted in high multifamily occupancy rates in the 95% range.

Lustig-Bower notes the approach from owners is to “stick with what they’ve got out of fear” that they won’t be able to replace those assets. So today, they are “holding a little longer,” she says.

Gelt Inc.’s Keith Wasserman notes what’s helping the investor complete deals in a competitive market is their reputation as “closers and not falling out” on deals they pursue, even as the market’s shifted from being a “buyer’s market to a seller’s market now.”

Previous recaps of the conference included the overall takeaways from all panels here, the institutional capital panel here, a look inside the capital stack here, a conversation with Freddie and Fannie here, and development panel here.

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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.