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The multifamily fall from grace over the last couple of years was unexpected by most at the market’s pandemic highs. The increase in interest rates have hit hard, as have some other factors.

But according to Ralph Rosenberg, partner and global head of real estate at global investment firm KKR, problematic conditions should start tapering off after 2025, leaving strong possibilities for rent growth and opportunities to “buy high-quality properties below replacement cost while achieving attractive long-term yields.”

The factors confounding multifamily certainly start with interest rates.

“Debt levels relative to equity are higher in multifamily than in some other segments, a loan maturity wall looms, and interest rate caps are expiring, putting many owners in the position of refinancing at a time when their properties are worth less than their acquisition basis and interest rates are much higher,” Rosenberg wrote.

He notes that multifamily is one of the most leveraged of CRE investments. That makes refinancing challenging. There is a loan maturity wall, reduced availability of financing, and high debt loads.

That’s only one part. As GlobeSt.com has previously reported, 2023 saw a record number of apartment unit deliveries added to inventory and 2024 is expected to top that by half again. These aren’t evenly distributed across the country, but the concentration in places even with high increases in population is still enough to depress prices, occupancy rates, and rent growth.

In addition, operational costs have increased.

“Floating-rate interest payments rose faster than income from rent and fees,” the firm said. Falling valuations aided in negatively affecting debt service coverage ratios, making many properties fiscally unsustainable to the lender. Also, utilities and property taxes have continued to climb, adding to multifamily difficulties.

“Over $250 billion in multifamily loan debt matures in 2024 alone, and some owners will face a gap upon refinancing,” they wrote. “Likewise, as interest rate caps typically last for three years, many owners are looking at a sharp increase in the cost of debt.”

KKR expects a tough couple of years in a deleveraging cycle. Owners and investors who can hold on during this period face different conditions coming out. There is the chance of lower interest rates, although the degree and pace of any reductions are up in the air now. Demand for units will grow as the rising expenses and difficulty of continuation of building make it virtually impossible to keep pace with additional units. Currently, supply growth forecasts for many metropolitan areas are below the 2018-to-2022 five-year average, and that wasn’t adequate to satisfy market needs.

Buyers with sufficient resources will find many opportunities.

“Consider what would happen to a multifamily property purchased in February 2024 at a 5.5% cap rate (a measure of the one-year yield on a property calculated by dividing NOI by asset value) with 50% leverage,” they wrote. “Assume that NOI grows at a 3% CAGR. As interest rates come down, it might be possible to sell at a cap rate of 5.0% five years later, in 2029. That equates to an internal rate of return of roughly 14.5% over five years, which is attractive for a historically stable, in-demand asset class.”

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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It’s going to be tough for apartment operators to maintain occupancies in a slowing economy, although property fundamentals should hold up in 2024 among a few challenges, according to a new report from Yardi Matrix.

Among the challenges are the wave of deliveries, limiting expense growth, rising mortgage rates, and dealing with more expensive and less liquid capital markets.

“We are no longer in a rising-tide lifts-all-boats market,” Yardi Matrix said.

“The traditional property acquisition pipeline will likely remain stalled through most of the year, so near-term opportunities will be concentrated in debt investments and providing capital for property restructurings.”

One big and growing issue will be maturity defaults as loans come due and properties qualify for proceeds that are less than the existing mortgages, according to the report.

On the other hand, the challenges are not insurmountable for owners with a long-term perspective, but they will take skill and expertise to navigate, according to the report.

The higher-for-longer interest rate scenario will bring a market reset with higher acquisition yields, higher financing costs, and lower leverage and values.

“We expect rent growth will be positive in 2024 but diminished by slowing absorption, supply growth, and declining affordability after extraordinary gains in 2021-22,” Yardi Matrix said.

It said rent growth will be found in the Midwest, Northeast, and smaller Southern and Mountain areas where demand remains consistent, and deliveries are subdued.

Strong demand and weak supply growth in markets like New York and Chicago should lead to strong recoveries while the Sun Belt and West markets will see a temporary pause in rent increases. The long-term prospects there remain bullish, however.

The rise in construction financing is putting a lid on new starts and 2024 is expected to be a peak year for deliveries.

Insurance labor, materials, and maintenance will continue to take a bite out of budgets.

Yardi Matrix believes that activity is likely to remain weak in 2024 “but could rebound later in the year if rate hikes have ended.”

It’s not just that property values are down, but that buyers and sellers can’t agree on how much.

Meanwhile, lenders will continue to be cautious, and borrowers are reluctant to lock in loans at high rates, according to the report.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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First came supply-chain-fueled higher construction costs. Then came inflation and interest-rate hikes imposed by the Federal Reserve.

Multifamily property operators are seeing their property insurance premiums rise at a time when the cost to build and finance a commercial real estate project remains elevated, even though most material prices have stabilized.

The recent spike in insurance costs arguably could have the most significant ripple effects within the multifamily industry, as higher rates will likely prompt multifamily landlords to pass those additional costs to tenants. But for income-restricted housing or rent-controlled apartment markets, according to those in the industry, the options to offset those higher costs are more limited.

A recent survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council, a trade group representing rental-housing owners and developers, found property insurance costs have risen 26% on average among respondents during the past year. Hurricane Ian had a tremendous impact on rising premiums, but internal insurance dynamics, industry consolidation, carriers departing some markets and climate change are also to blame for the higher costs.

Beyond the cost of operating an apartment property or portfolio, higher insurance premiums are starting to affect property valuations and disrupt transactions.

Michael Power, a chartered property casualty underwriter at New York-based FHS Risk Management, said during an NMHC webinar that in years past, adequate insurable replacement values weren’t necessarily enforced by the insurance industry. There’s been a monumental change on that front this year, he said, with everyone now required to directly report adequate insurable rebuilding costs for all buildings.

“That is having a huge impact on premiums because it’s driving up the total insurable value of your assets. … It creates a compound effect on premiums,” Power said.

 

Source:  The Business Journals

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Although loans backing office properties are the most scrutinized these days, a wall of debt is also maturing within the multifamily sector in the coming years.

And while multifamily continues to be seen as one of the safer asset classes, already, there’ve been recent examples of loan defaults on multifamily portfolios, including four properties in Houston totaling 3,200 units that went to foreclosure last month.

Aaron Jodka, director of national capital-markets research at Colliers International Group Inc., said the multifamily market right now is an interesting test case — while rents aren’t growing as fast as they were 18 months ago, many markets continue to see positive growth and occupancy remains strong.

Looking strictly at the apartment market, nationally, net absorption was 19,243 in the first quarter of 2023, and occupancy stood at 94.7% in March, a drop from the peak of 97.6% in February 2022 but about the same as the average observed in the decade before the pandemic, according to RealPage Inc. Same-store effective asking rents for new apartment leases increased 0.3% in Q1.

But buyers and sellers continue to be at a stalemate, including within multifamily, a darling of the real estate investment world in recent years, Jodka said.

From the early 2000s through the global financial crisis and shortly thereafter, multifamily drove about 24% of all investment sales activity, according to Colliers. Between 2012 and 2020, that sector received about 33% of activity.

By 2020 to 2022, multifamily represented 43% of all investment.

“We’re increasingly seeing larger and larger investment flows, which means we have more and more maturities coming, as you’ve had additional volume,” Jodka said.

In particular, borrowers that recently financed multifamily deals with short-term floating-rate debt without anticipating the significant run-up in interest rates are facing higher loan payments now and could run into issues at refinancing, he added.

And a significant amount of loan maturities within multifamily are coming due soon. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates, overall, there’s $2.6 trillion of loan maturities through 2027, with multifamily making up 38%.

Those who track the commercial real estate market say, like any property type, multifamily is likely to see a greater amount of distress in the coming months and years, but financing challenges are likely to be more episodic than widespread. Capital sources, both on the debt and equity side, are also likelier to provide capital to multifamily more broadly than other asset classes, and there continues to be a tremendous amount of uninvested capital sitting on the sidelines, Jodka said.

 

Source:  SFBJ

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As the stock market continues to show volatility, many people are looking into other types of investment opportunities.

Compared to stock investing, commercial real estate has the potential to provide tax advantages and serve as a safeguard against inflation and market fluctuations.

Fortunately, there are many ways to invest in commercial real estate, and you can tailor your approach to fit your comfort level, budget and lifestyle—all while creating a dynamic portfolio.

Let’s look at 10 of the most commonly overlooked investment opportunities in commercial real estate.

1. Flex Warehouses

Industrial commercial real estate currently offers some of the best returns on the market. As organizations continue to work out complex supply chain issues, flex warehouses are becoming a crucial tool.

This type of warehousing offers a combination of storage and office space. It’s a way to deliver versatility for companies that need to store inventory and have a customer-facing area.

2. Parking Lots

With more than 282 million cars on U.S. roads, finding a parking spot is often a challenge. Parking lots are a low-maintenance commercial investment, and you can choose to operate the lot or lease it to a third-party operator. Dynamic pricing can capture the ebb and flow of demand to increase the return on investment.

3. Real Estate Investment Trusts

Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, are a great way to start off in commercial real estate investing. They allow you to skip the hands-on approach of dealing with a property.

Investing in a real estate investment trust (REIT) can offer a reliable source of income. Similar to real estate stocks, investors can buy and sell REITs on the market.

4. Self-Storage

Self-storage has outperformed other commercial real estate sectors for many years. Yet I see many people still overlooking self-storage. These properties can offer consistent, good returns even during downturns and recessions.

Remember to think strategically about the location, for this is critical when opting for this type of investment. In some areas, investors have seen some retraction due to oversaturation.

5. Cell Towers

Many people, especially those new to commercial investing, don’t realize that cell towers are a prime opportunity. They can become a source of steady income over time. As cell service expands into rural areas, investors can provide a much-needed service and a long-term return to their portfolios.

6. Senior Living Facilities

Senior living facilities are another commonly overlooked commercial property. As the number of U.S. adults 65 and older increases, more people are looking for long-term living in senior-specific residences. This creates a great investment opportunity for senior living facilities.

7. Mobile Home Parks

A growing number of homeowners are turning to flexible and budget-friendly mobile homes. And mobile homeowners have to park them somewhere. These areas can become a reliable source of passive income for investors. Lot rates have also increased in many markets recently, so now may be the perfect time to invest.

8. Commercial Multifamily Units

While residential multifamily properties only include two to four units, commercial multifamily properties include five or more. The increase in units can provide a larger stream of income, which could make this real estate opportunity a star performer in your portfolio.

Before investing in a commercial multifamily property, remember to do your due diligence. For instance, check the financial audit and property market reports, determine how the property will be managed and review service contracts, such as trash removal and lawn care.

9. Coin-Operated Laundry Shops

Getting into commercial real estate doesn’t always mean financing six-figure properties immediately. I find that coin-operated laundries are a simple way of investing in real estate for beginners.

One option is to convert an unused or overlooked space into an existing property. With this option, you can start small and even finance or lease equipment to avoid high out-of-pocket costs.

10. Undeveloped Land

All commercial real estate properties involve land. But sometimes, the investment opportunity is undeveloped land.

Investing in undeveloped land can be a little daunting if you’re unsure what your next step will be. Many commercial brokerages offer consulting or development partnerships to help you get the most out of your commercial land investment.

Adding Depth To Your Investment Portfolio

Investing in one or more forms of commercial real estate is an excellent way to improve your portfolio, and it can provide you with the versatility to withstand market and economic volatility.

A good tip is to explore commonly overlooked investment prospects, as they can offer entry points and create the right mix for your portfolio. One of the best ways to help you connect with these types of opportunities is by partnering with a brokerage.

 

Source:  Forbes

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Looking out to 2024, a recent Marcus & Millichap report expects commercial real estate development to slow, based on “elevated” interest rates.

Additionally, construction materials costs remain elevated on a historical basis (up 33.5% above pre-pandemic levels), despite a retreat in shipping costs and the average prices of steel and gasoline in recent quarters. Wage growth was up 5.8 percent in 2022.

Projects that have already broken ground or locked in financing are moving forward, but banks have been executing fewer construction loans relative to previous years. Lenders are tightening their underwriting in response to increased risk exposure. Loans that are secured loans are at rates well-above measures recorded prior to the health crisis.

Industrial sector development is needed, but it slowed in Q4 by 40% compared to the first three quarters and further slowing is likely. Amazon’s decision to halt its ambitious warehouse starts for the next three years is another indication.

The total amount of square footage set to be delivered for both office and retail properties is projected to increase year-over-year in 2023, but new proposals in these sectors are showing signs of deceleration.

“The limited competition from new supply should aid performance metrics at existing retail and office properties,” according to the report.

The apartment sector is an outlier, as it continues to see record inventory growth, according to the report – completions in 2023 are expected to reach the 400,000-unit mark for the first time in over 30 years.

Marcus & Millichap finds that multifamily project starts during February of this year reached the second-highest monthly measure in three decades.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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Retail led an unbalanced sales volume month in February for commercial real estate’s asset classes, according to a report last week from Colliers.

Overall, February’s volume totaling $25.1 billion was up nearly 34% from January sales levels, an above-average month-to-month increase.

Retail was the most heavily traded asset class in February, with $9.1 billion of activity, buoyed by the take-private deal of STORES Capital REIT. (Without it, the volume would have been $2 billion, and it would have fallen to a similar extent as other asset classes).

Office volume in commercial and business centers (CBD) was short of the $1 billion mark for the second month in a row – and the first time since 2010.

CBD office cap rates are up 70 basis points over the past year, and MSCI notes pricing is down 2.2%, though “recent cap rate movement would suggest a far more rapid price adjustment.”

Industrial volume got back to where it was in 2015-18 by increasing 63% from January. The STORE Capital REIT deal was the main reason why.

MSCI reported a 4.4% annual drop based on January to February pricing.

Multifamily sales volume is moving downward at a faster pace, with February’s $4.8 billion traded was the lowest monthly total since February 2012. A darling for so long, it is now the third-least-traded asset class for the first time since January 2015.

MSCI’s repeat sale index shows an 8.7% annual price decline, the sharpest of any asset class.

Hospitality sales volume was volatile as it was down 53% compared to last year but up month-over-month.

MSCI reports the strongest price appreciation of any asset class over the past year at 5.4%, and unlike other asset classes, when annualizing monthly statistics, hospitality shows a 2.1% gain on $2 billion in trades for the month.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

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In the 2022 US housing report from the National Association of Realtors and Move.com, which operates Realtor.com for the NAR, the big news is more of the same. The market is now, by their count, 6.5 million new single-family homes short of population and household formation growth. For multifamily, that turns into good economic news.

It’s impossible to look at multifamily independent of single-family homes because the two markets are intertwined with household formation. Between 2012 and 2022, there were 15.6 million household formations in the US, according to NAR, with nearly 2.1 million last year.

As formations happen, they need to live someplace, but there aren’t enough traditional single-family homes. During those 10 years between 2012 and 2022, 9.03 million single-family homes were started, with 8.5 million completed. That would be a 7.1-million-unit gap. There were also 4.2 million multifamily unit starts and 3.4 million completions.

The home ownership rate oscillates between about 63% and, at its high point in the fourth quarter of 2004, 69.2%. The current level is 65.9%. That should have meant more like 10.3 million completed single-family homes.

The market gap is where multifamily provides something of a stopgap. As NAR noted, “The gap between single-family home constructions and household formations grew to 6.5 million homes between 2012 and 2022. However, including multi-family home construction reduces this gap to 2.3 million homes.”

However, there weren’t enough multifamily units created to accommodate 34.1% of the housing volume, which would be 5.4 million, far more than the 3.4 million delivered.

This is where the market turns interesting. In 2022, multifamily unit construction increased, “reaching 35.1% of all housing starts by the end of the year, a level not seen since 2015.” That is a rate at which the housing market could begin to catch up and hit a sustainable stride.

Looking at the NAR analysis, over the 10-year period, 340,000 multifamily units were delivered per year on average. A recent research brief from CBRE projected that 716,000 multifamily units will reach the market within the next 24 months, or 358,000 a year, or a roughly 5.2% increase over the baseline. That’s an improvement, but not enough to catch up in the short run.

“If only single-family homes are considered, the rate of housing starts would need to triple to keep up with demand and close the existing 6.5 million home gap in 3 to 4 years” NAR wrote. “However, if the rate of total (multi- & single-family) housing starts increased by 50% from the 2022 rate to an average rate of 2.3 million housing starts per year, a pace of construction on par with what we saw in the early 1970s and some of the peak months for building in the mid-2000s,  it would take between 2 and 3 years to close the existing 2.3 million home gap, assuming the 2012 – 2019 average rate of household formations (~1.3 million households per year).”

One lesson for the multifamily industry to take — supported by the fuller CBRE analysis — is that the housing need is so great, worries about an oversupply overwhelming demand and leading to an undercutting of the market are probably unfounded.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.

 

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What a ride! For the past five years, apartment building owners hit the jackpot with their property values going up nationally by 37%, according to Marcus and Millichap. This was fueled by record rental increases of 13.5% in 2021 and 6.2% in 2022 and mortgage rates hitting their lowest ever in January 2021. But this trend is seemingly slowing. According to CBRE, the average multifamily cap rate went up by 38 basis points to 4.49% in the last quarter of 2022, which means prices are starting to come down. And thank goodness!

As a commercial mortgage banker specializing in multifamily financing nationally, 2022 was an extremely difficult year. It was a head-on collision between property values going up and mortgage rates going up. This produced smaller loan sizes, killing many of our deals. It wasn’t pleasant telling my client, “Sorry, 40% down is no longer going to cut it. Can you come up with 50%?” He replied, “Really? I was only getting a 4% cash-on-cash return, and now you want me to be happy with 2%.” I told him to negotiate the price down with the seller, who opted to take the property off the market instead.

Why Both Buyers And Sellers Have Their Brakes On

Although multifamily is the most sought-after asset class in the commercial real estate market today, prices remain high. This is a result of low supply and demand. In fact, the 4th quarter of 2022 hit the lowest level for both since 2009, according to Moody Analytics.

So, it’s no wonder that both buyers and sellers have their brakes on. Why? Because many buyers can’t figure out what a property is really worth today. Worse yet, they are afraid they are buying at the top of the market with a recession around the corner. And many sellers are in love with those high prices. They know that this is not a good time to sell with rates being so high. I’ve found that most are financially strong and don’t have to sell. They can just wait for rates to come down—snug in the comfort of the very low long-term rates they have on the property.

Why Multifamily Sales Prices Could Come Down Slowly In 2023

The good news for sellers is that the economy seems to be getting stronger, with wages climbing 6.3% for jobs posted on Indeed and 4.8 million jobs created in 2022. Even better, in January 2023, 517,000 new jobs were created, and unemployment hit a 53-year low at 3.4%. Many sellers, real estate brokers and property managers I talk with are arguing that this should justify today’s high multifamily prices and support more rental increases in 2023 as wages have gone up too.

But I think the data from the last quarter of 2022 supports a different argument—that multifamily prices must come down. According to CBRE, new investment in multifamily property fell by 70% (download required). Why? Because investors couldn’t make the numbers work, and the future did not look bright. According to Fannie Mae, there was a negative demand for multifamily units of -103,485 at the end of 2022. Now if we add to this the 783,000 new apartment units they report coming online in 2023, this is a recipe for rents remaining flat and rental concessions on the rise.

Savvy property investors know that if they are going to buy high, they have to raise rents to achieve the return they need in the future. This goes right to their bottom line, raising the net operating income in the income approach of a commercial appraisal and raising property value. But as noted in the report above, Fannie Mae is expecting rents to only achieve a 1.5% increase in 2023.

Today’s high prices just don’t seem sustainable, or I should say, they are not based in reality. The reality is that too many units are available for rent, too many units are coming online and too many renters are already paying more than they can afford with inflation. The reality is what an investor is willing to put down on a loan with today’s high mortgage rates. The reality is that those rates are likely to go higher as the Fed struggles to lower inflation to their benchmark of 2%. It’s at 6.3% now. And the reality is what an investor needs to earn.

A client of mine recently summed it up perfectly: “If I buy at today’s prices, I will be paying what the property will be worth in two years. And that’s if I can raise rents enough. Why would I do that?”

What does all this mean? If you are a multifamily investor, you might be better off waiting until prices come down. I think they will by the last quarter of 2023, as appraisal valuations come down and more sellers must sell due to divorce, partnership breakup, loan maturity or death. Of course, those who have the time may want to make lowball offers on properties with under-market rents in good neighborhoods where renters can afford future rent increases and wait for one to stick.

If you are a seller or listing real estate broker, unless you want to wait for a cash buyer, it’s important to not only sell the property’s upsides and value adds but also think about the buyers’ expectations for earnings. Based on actual net operating income, current interest rates and down payment requirement, what sale price will bring the deal to the closing table?

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

 

Source:  Forbes

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Multifamily will likely experience little distress this year, despite a deceleration in debt origination since the beginning of 2022.

Activity has “gradually decelerated” since Q1 2022, the second-best quarter on record for debt originations, according to an analysis from Newmark, which also notes that “preliminary loan figures overstate the severity of the slowdown” in Q4.

“The year-over-year comparison is severe, but the fourth quarter of 2021 was a very high bar to match,” the new report notes. “Projected volumes for the fourth quarter of 2022 are still the third-best fourth-quarter performance.”

The Sun Belt accounted for 57.9% of overall multifamily investment in 2022, led by Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix, which together accounted for 21.6% of annual volume. Of the top 25 markets by volume, New York, Nashville and Philadelphia posted double-digit year-over-year sales volume growth.

But while December 2022 may have experienced a greater-than-usual seasonal boost as borrowers sought to capitalize on sharp declines in Treasury yields and spreads, Newmark says the question remains as to whether that momentum carried into the first quarter of this year.  With that said, wth the exception of loans originated in 2021, mark-to-market LTVs “are well-contained,” something that can’t be said for many office and retail vintages.

Banks leaned in heavily to the asset class in 2022, with bank exposure to loans secured by multifamily properties increasing by $11 billion from January 2022 to January 2023. But Newmark says this is unlikely to continue unabated, creating a liquidity gap in the market. Banks are also tightening lending standards and shrinking the profile of both assets and sponsors with whom they’re willing to lend.

“Banks are likely to be less active as they digest their expanded loan books, and the GSE’s will be active but static on volumes,” the firm notes. “The recent decline in spreads and reduced volatility in bond yields could incentivize market-driven lenders, such as CMBS, debt funds and life insurance companies to be more active on the margin. There is already some evidence of this in the corporate bond market, with new issuance picking up.”

The market may be also subject to more ups and downs as a result of lending caps on GSEs and a move by the entities to more “mission-driven” lending.

“As the market grows, they are providing less proportional and more targeted liquidity support, which makes a repeat of 2009 less likely but also leaves the market subject to greater ‘normal’ volatility,” the report notes.

Record quantities of debt are on track to mature by 2024, and Newmark says borrowers will face markedly higher borrowing costs as loans mature.

“Higher debt costs on refinancing will lower return for all and will give rise to a range of reactions within the market,” the report notes. “Some borrowers will choose to pay down debt, especially if the asset has appreciated meaningfully. Others will refinance the principal or partially pay down, whereas in a lower cost of capital environment, they would have re-levered. Still others will be unable to make the math work and will need to pursue a loan modification, return the keys and/or source rescue equity at an appropriate price point.”

Despite that, the asset class remains a top destination for capital globally.  International investment in US multifamily assets as a percentage of total US commercial real estate totaled 40.3% in 2022, up 990 basis points from the 2015-2019 average of 30.4%. And among the US regions, total returns in the Southeast have outpaced the broader market on short, intermediate and long-term bases. Garden-style properties throughout the Southeast have been a particularly strong niche within the sector, outpacing the US multifamily index by 440 basis points over the past decade.

 

Source:  GlobeSt.