Economic uncertainty continues to impact the multifamily industry, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s quarterly survey of apartment market conditions for April.
Apartment market conditions weakened, with the four indices remaining well below the break-even level of 50.
“Apartment operators reported an uptick in vacancies and concessions this quarter,” said Caitlin Sugrue Walter, NMHC’s vice president of research. “And while some of this softness can be attributed to seasonality, investors remain concerned about the coming wave of supply in some markets and the prospect of slower economic growth in 2023. Only 11% of quarterly survey respondents believe that the Fed will be able to achieve a soft landing this year in its effort to rein inflation.”
While the Fed remains committed to bring down inflation through tighter monetary policy, a majority of the survey respondents, 64%, believe a bumpy landing is most likely, where economic growth slows to a below-average or negative rate and then rebounds to a sustainable pace. In addition, 21% said the Fed’s efforts will lead to a hard landing, or recession scenario.
She added that the multifamily transaction market is at a standstill, with current owners unwilling to offer buyers the lower prices needed to compensate for the diminished economic outlook and the higher cost of debt.
Findings from the survey, which was conducted between April 10 and 17 with 162 CEOs and other senior executives of apartment-related firms nationwide, include:
The Market Tightness Index came in at 31, indicating looser market conditions for the third consecutive quarter. More than half of the respondents, 51%, reported that market conditions were looser than three months ago, while only 14% cited tighter conditions. The remaining 34% said they thought conditions were unchanged.
The Sales Volume Index was 26, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of decreasing transaction flow. Down from 82% in January, 56% reported lower sales volume; 9% said volume was higher than three months ago, while 30% reported no change.
The Equity Financing Index at 23 indicated that equity financing was less available for the fifth consecutive quarter. Less than two-thirds of respondents, 60%, reported that equity financing was less available than three months ago, while only 6% said it was more available; 24% said availability was unchanged.
The Debt Financing index came in at 29—the seventh consecutive quarter for debt financing to be less available. Over half, 53%, of respondents indicated that now is a worse time to borrow than it was three months ago, while 12% respondents reported better conditions; 24% reported unchanged conditions.