July 18, 2007

Apartment Markets Remain Strong According to NMHC Quarterly

“The apartment markets continue to enjoy largely favorable conditions,” noted NMHC Chief Economist Mark Obrinsky. “Although both owners and managers are well aware of the ‘shadow rental market’—condos and single-family homes originally intended for sale but being rented out instead—any supply spillover from the for-sale market has so far not exceeded the growing demand for apartment residences.”

One-third of respondents said that occupancy rates and/or rents rose during the first quarter of the year. As a result, the survey’s Market Tightness Index edged up slightly to 56. (For all four of the survey indexes, a reading above 50 indicates that, on balance, conditions are improving; a reading below 50 indicates that conditions are worsening; and a reading of 50 indicates that conditions are unchanged.) In most markets, conditions were largely unchanged according to 43 percent of respondents.

The long-term demographics favoring rental housing—namely the coming of age of the echo boomers and strong immigration level—make the sector a favorite among equity investors. Although the Equity Financing Index fell slightly to 53 from 56 in the last quarter, it was still the 15th straight over-50 reading. Equity capital for investment in apartments remains widely available as evidenced by the 71 percent of respondents who considered conditions unchanged compared to three months earlier.

National Multi Housing Council

Mortgage Rates Reverse Downward Trend
Short-Term Rates Remain Mixed

McLean, VA Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.73 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending July 12, 2007, up from last week when it averaged 6.63 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.74 percent.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 6.39 percent with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 6.30 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 6.37 percent.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6.35 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 6.29 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 6.33 percent.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.71 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.75 percent.

Home Prices Expected to Recover in 2008 As Inventories Decline

Home prices are expected to recover in 2008 with existing-home sales picking up late this year and new-home sales rising early next year, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, said a good buyers’ market has evolved. “Buyers now have an overwhelming advantage given the wide selection of homes available in many markets,” he said. “But with profit margins coming under pressure, homebuilders will limit new construction well into 2008. This should help the overall inventory level to move steadily into a more balanced state.”

Existing-home sales are expected to total 6.11 million this year and 6.37 million in 2008, down from 6.48 million last year. New-home sales are projected at 865,000 in 2007 and 878,000 next year, compared with 1.05 million in 2006. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are forecast at 1.43 million units this year and 1.44 million in 2008, down from 1.80 million last year.
Existing-home prices are likely to rise 1.8 percent to a median of $222,700 in 2008 after a 1.4 percent decline this year to $218,800. The median new-home price should rise 2.2 percent to $245,400 next year following a 2.6 percent drop in 2007 to $240,100.

“Markets that sharply reduce new construction in 2007 will generally experience respectable price increases in 2008,”

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