It’s been over a month now since the debt ceiling crisis and the subsequent U.S. credit downgrade from Standard & Poor’s. Despite having as strong an outlook as any real estate sector (and most sectors in the economy in general), multifamily felt some aftershocks. Here are three things industry watchers have seen in the past month:
Some Deals Dropped, Initially: In the week after the debt crisis, brokers and analysts noticed that some buyers had backed out of deals. “I heard of deals falling out of contract and lenders repricing,” says Dan Fasulo, managing director of of New York-based commercial real estate research firm Real Capital Analytics. “People decided to put those deals to bed and come back after Labor Day.”
But ultimately, a lot of deals fell through in August. It will take later in the year before anyone really knows how many deals fell through or whether it was just the typical August slowdown, when everyone goes on vacation.
“There was a moment of pause in the market where everyone wondered what it meant,” says Hessam Nadji, senior vice president, and managing director at Encino, Calif.,-based Marcus & Millichap. “But very quickly we saw people get back to business.”
Changing Capital Flows: Multifamily investors have gotten increasingly aggressive pushing further out on the risk spectrum--into secondary markets and asset classes. Fasulo wonders if this could slow. “One result of the economic turbulence, could mean that that move to secondary markets slows down a little bit,” he says.
On the other hand, with the sunny outlook for the apartment business, some investors may chose to put their money there instead of other sectors.
“I think some of the capital that was looking at other property types may be steered back to apartments because of these macro economic concerns,” Fasulo says. “I’d rather own an apartment complex than a retail center in a recession.”
Development Seems to Go On: With entitlements, zoning, and debt to line up, development deals take a lot longer to get going than basic apartment transactions. And, when they fall apart, they’re a lot more difficult to piece back together.
Industry watchers and architects, like Mark Humphreys, CEO of Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners Architects, haven’t seen the construction pipeline slowdown. Neither have bankers.
“Those two events [the credit downgrade and debt ceiling crisis] had little to no impact on the construction lending market,” said one lender.