NMHC: Apartment Market Tightness Index remained negative in January Survey

From the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC): Apartment Markets Soften in the January NMHC Quarterly Survey


— Apartment markets continued to retreat in the January National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. All four indexes of Market Tightness (25), Sales Volume (25), Equity Financing (33) and Debt Financing (14) remained below the breakeven level of 50 for the second quarter in a row.

“Weaker conditions are evident across all sectors as the apartment industry adjusts to changing conditions,” said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s Senior Vice President of Research and Chief Economist. “Rising supply—particularly during a seasonally weak quarter—is causing rent growth to moderate in many markets. At the same time, the sharp rise in interest rates in recent months was a triple whammy for the industry. First, higher rates directly worsen debt financing conditions. Second, the associated rise in cap rates also put a crimp in sales of apartment properties. Third, higher cap rates following the long run-up in apartment prices caused greater caution among equity investors.”

“The underlying demand for apartment residences remains strong, however. While new apartments continue to come online at a good clip, absorptions of those apartments remain strong. As long as the job market continues its steady expansion, any local supply overshoots should be manageable,” said Obrinsky.

The Market Tightness Index dropped three points to 25the fifth consecutive quarter of declining conditions and the lowest in more than seven years. Over half (58 percent) reported looser conditions from three months ago, compared to only eight percent who reported tighter conditions.
emphasis added

Apartment Tightness Index
Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the quarterly Apartment Tightness Index. Any reading below 50 indicates looser conditions from the previous quarter. This indicates market conditions were looser over the last quarter.

As I've mentioned before, this index helped me call the bottom for effective rents (and the top for the vacancy rate) early in 2010.

This is the fifth consecutive quarterly survey indicating looser conditions - it appears supply has caught up with demand - and I expect rent growth to slow.

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