James Schloemer is CEO of Continental Properties Co., a national developer and operator of multifamily communities. Founded in 1979, the Wisconsin-based firm has developed over 125 communities with over 34,000 apartments. Schloemer has taken on another role, serving as the 2024 to 2026 chair of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). He shares more about his role and the state of the industry for the year.

What are your priorities for your term as NMHC chair?

Thanks to my predecessor as NMHC chair, Ken Valach, as well as my fellow officers, NMHC is already on a wise course and well positioned to challenge harmful legislative and regulatory efforts and offer positive alternatives. We need to continue to emphasize that housing is a bipartisan issue. People of all perspectives agree on much more than we disagree on as it relates to the need to invest in building more housing. Going forward, NMHC will increase our focus on the member experience, including the facilitation of additional peer-to-peer/professional specialty networking. We will also further our efforts to build relationships and understanding with all interested parties with the goal of expanding the supply of quality, attainable rental housing in communities throughout the country.

What multifamily issue are you excited to champion this year?

NMHC will continue to engage with policymakers and other stakeholders across the housing ecosystem to educate them that the nation needs to increase housing supply to improve housing affordability and lower costs. This must be promoted on multiple fronts including removing obstacles to creating affordable and workforce attainable housing, such as exclusionary zoning, rent control in multiple forms, and overburdensome regulation. Affordable housing for the most cost-burdened households also requires support from all levels of government, and NMHC can help assure that this support is provided in the most productive and efficient ways. Housing should not be a partisan issue, so we have to work with both sides of the aisle.

What opportunities are you seeing for the industry in 2024?

I believe there will be greater acceptance and awareness that rental housing is a positive lifestyle and financial option that is complementary, not competitive, to the traditional goal of homeownership. Already, rental housing providers offer their residents enhanced customer experiences, and we will need to continue to support our members as they focus on further improving resident satisfaction and experience.

What are you most concerned about for the sector this year?

Rent control in various forms is often a politically expedient but ultimately disastrous means to address housing affordability. One of NMHC’s chief priorities is educating lawmakers about misguided and harmful regulation and legislation. The NMHC team will continue to advocate for policy solutions that improve housing opportunity, expand supply, and lower costs. Lawmakers need to consider efforts that actually increase supply as opposed to efforts that do the opposite—harming residents, communities, and future generations as research clearly confirms.

What’s in Continental Properties’ development pipeline this year?

At Continental, we have always focused our development on workforce housing for the “missing middle.” We have a significant pipeline of that product underway with an expectation that demand for middle-income rental housing will exceed new supply in 2026 and subsequent years.

Can you tell me about a recent project Continental opened?

In 2021, Continental introduced a new workforce housing brand, Authentix, to complement our longstanding Springs brand. Since that time, we have developed eight Authentix communities in seven states. In seven of those communities, over 93% of the apartments are rented at levels that are affordable to households earning just 80% of area median income. Those residents enjoy new, amenity-rich apartment living, and the developments have been successful without any local or federal assistance. At Continental Properties, we believe that the future of missing-middle housing is dependent upon creative solutions to cost containment without sacrificing a high-quality resident experience.

What’s a new trend you’re seeing in multifamily?

Developers and operators have embraced a customer experience-driven business model that follows the lead of other customer-focused industries like hospitality and retail sales. The use of technology to understand the customers’ preferences and deliver memorable experiences is an important aspect of this trend.