Apartment market weakens as Fed rate hikes impact rent and financing

NMHC survey shows decreased rents, fallen sales volume, and less availability of financing

Apartment market weakens as Fed rate hikes impact rent and financing

Apartment market conditions continue to worsen as recent interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve take a toll on rents and make it more difficult for buyers to obtain debt and equity financing.

The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) recently released its quarterly market survey for January, which showed that apartment conditions have weakened. According to the survey, market tightness, sales volume, equity financing, and debt financing indexes all came in well below the break-even level of 50.

NMHC’s chief economist Mark Obrinsky attributed the decrease in apartment rents nationwide to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes.

“The Fed’s interest rate hikes are having their intended effect on prices, as monthly apartment rents decreased nationwide,” Obrinsky said. He added that although rents are still higher than year-ago levels, this reflects past, not current rent inflation.

NMHC’s sales volume index was also below the break-even level at 10. Around 82% reported lower sales volume, similar to last quarter. Only 2% reported an increase in sales volume, while 13% saw no change.

The market tightness index for this quarter came in at 14, reflecting looser market conditions for two quarters in a row. The majority of respondents (78%) stated that the market is looser than it was three months ago, while only 5% reported it to be tighter. The remaining 16% saw no change in market conditions.

Furthermore, the equity financing index reading of 20 marked the fourth consecutive quarter in which equity financing became less available. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents reported equity financing was less available than three months ago. Similarly, the debt financing index reading of 25 indicated the sixth straight quarter in which debt financing became less available. About 60% of respondents reported that conditions have worsened for debt financing.

“These rate hikes have also translated to a higher cost of debt financing, causing buyers to seek a higher rate of return,” Obrinsky said. “With sellers unwilling to budge much on pricing, apartment transaction volume has largely dried up.”

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