When the Great Recession first reared its ugly head, crowning from the single-family mortgage meltdown, multifamily development was thrown out with the bathwater.
Capital dried up, new construction slowed, and merchant developers started thinking twice about their business models.
Yet, as the recession slowly unfolded, so, did the purse-strings of construction lenders—but only if you were building in just the right place. And just the right place back in 2009 was Washington, D.C., followed by New York City and two seemingly bulletproof Texas metros—Houston and Dallas.
Since job creation is at the vanguard of apartment demand, these four metros seemed like sure bets—the government doesn’t exactly shrink, nor does the Big Apple. And with the oil industry going like gangbusters, energy-dependent markets seemed like a no-brainer.
It made sense to construction lenders, particularly those backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which was the only capital game in town back in 2009.
The capital markets always serve as the brake pedals on an upturn; and they also serve as the gas pedals coming out of a downturn. But ask any gambler about the existence of “sure bets” and they’ll tell you that the house always wins.
Concessions are now showing up in DC and NYC. The plunge in gas prices has more than cooled off a few formerly hot Texas metros.
In its most recent commentary, Fannie Mae charted the new construction pipeline by metro and had this to say about the where and when of new units:
“Complicating matters over the short term, there is a concentration of most of this new multifamily supply in about 12 major metros, as the chart below shows. At a national level, this amount of new multifamily development is not entirely unfounded.
… But with the concentration of new supply in just a few metros and further concentration in certain submarkets, there is a slight mismatch between the growth markets for jobs and the areas receiving substantial new development. That is why supply may outpace demand in several submarkets over the next few years.”
Of course, it made sense to lend to developers in DC, and NYC, and Houston and Dallas back in 2009. And now, seven years later, it also makes sense that the markets first out of the recession are now the first to offer concessions.
To further the gambling metaphor: In horse racing, sometimes the fastest horses are given heavier horseshoes, to level the playing field (remember the movie Seabiscuit).
So, too, in real estate: Sometimes being first can, in time, become a handicap.