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Is Declining Occupancy Affecting the Senior Housing Market?

Chris Finlay, CEO of Lloyd Jones LLC, shares his view on trends in elderly housing investment, the firm’s strategy and future plans. He also predicts how technology will impact the sector.

by Beata Lorincz

Lloyd Jones LLC is a real estate investment, development and management firm that specializes in multifamily and senior housing throughout Florida, Texas and the Southeast. The company focuses on independent living and age-restricted facilities (ILFs), as opposed to communities that include a medical component, such as assisted living facilities (ALFs) and memory care (MC).

According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), senior housing occupancy in the U.S. averaged 87.9 percent in the second quarter of 2018, representing an eight-year low. Multi-Housing News reached out to Lloyd Jones CEO Chris Finlay for further insight on the senior housing market.

What do you look for in a senior community?

Finlay: Ideally, for existing assets, we look for properties 10 to 20 years old that we can acquire at substantially below replacement value, then improve or redevelop them so that they are competitive with new product. Unfortunately, very few of these opportunities exist. Consequently, our focus is on ground-up development, where we can create an active senior community designed specifically to our specifications—and to the expectations of our residents.

What are the latest trends in senior housing?

Finlay: More and more seniors are renting by choice. They are looking for lifestyle flexibility as well as freedom from taxes and household/yard maintenance. And they like being around like-minded friends, in a socially active and healthy-lifestyle-focused environment.

What are the greatest challenges in owning senior communities?

Finlay: Getting too attached to your residents. Our senior residents are wonderful. They are great to work with and so appreciative of the opportunities our communities provide.

Research shows that senior housing occupancy hit an eight-year low of 87.9 percent in the second quarter of 2018. What can you tell us about this drop? How does this impact the sector?

Finlay: Fifty-five-and-over occupancy is over 95 percent and ILFs are at 92 percent. ALFs/MC are overbuilt in nearly all major markets. We just got back from a seniors conference and our strategy was absolutely confirmed. This is where they’ve headed and will be staying for a long time and thanks to technology, many seniors may never have to go to an ALF/MC or skilled nursing facility (SNF).

What are your predictions for the senior housing market going forward?

Finlay: I see less demand for assisted living and memory care. With all the technology advances, seniors can avoid institutional facilities and stay independent for much longer.

Which are the most active multifamily markets at the moment?

Finlay: Jacksonville and Daytona are two of the hottest markets in Florida. We also like Houston and Fort Worth, Texas.

What are your predictions for the market?

Finlay: I think we have a few more years in this cycle, but demographics will continue to be positive for our industry for a very long time.

What can you tell us about the company’s strategy going forward?

Finlay: We are not planning to expand to any new markets. Our strategy is to focus on 55-and-over independent senior living, which is still doing very well.

 

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Disruption in Senior Housing

The senior housing industry is in the midst of a big disruption.  Occupancy in assisted living hit a record low in the first quarter of 2018 – and continues to fall. There could be numerous reasons for this, including a bad flu season, but I think there’s something bigger going on.

At a recent conference I attended, one of the speakers addressed this subject.   He suggested that two major influencers are driving the disruption.

  1. Labor shortage. A labor shortage is anticipated for high-intensity facilities such as assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing facilities. The average wage for a CNA (certified nursing assistant) is currently $11 per hour.  Soon, the speaker projects,  it will be $15. This will cause an 8% drop in NOI which translates to a 27% decline in asset value!  Or, more likely, rents will rise, and such facilities will become even less affordable.
  2. Technology. And this is where it gets cool! Technology is focusing on aging-in-place, allowing seniors to avoid institutional facilities longer. The speaker shared that aging-in-place technology will become a $7 trillion economy. Venture capital is investing 10:1 on technology versus operational improvements.

So how does this affect you and me?

It means we can age in place almost anywhere.  The secret is in choosing the place. If we live long enough, each of us will need assistance at some point, (although most of us refuse to admit it).  But technology will allow us to live wherever we choose with on-demand assistance as necessary.

Even today, technology is available to get us what we need, when we need it: a voice activated communications system connected with family or emergency-response team;  a sensor to monitor activities and detect irregularities;  a wrist band connected to an AI platform that alerts the doctor if anything is out of kilter;  apps to remind us to take our pills; apps to call a ride; apps to order meals; apps to request assistance with dressing or bathing; apps for help hanging pictures or rearranging furniture.

And that’s today.  Just wait until that $7 trillion investment is realized!

I project the future of senior housing will be focused on the independent-living model with limited services – which will be offered a-la-carte.  Technology will replace the need for personal assistance. We will not need (nor can most of us afford) the full staff that comes with assisted-living facilities. With this exciting new technology, we will remain independent much longer as we age in place.

But aging-in-place doesn’t mean staying in your four-bedroom colonial with stairs, narrow doorways, and slippery bathtubs.  Forward-thinking baby boomers are eschewing their large family homesteads that require constant up-keep and high taxes for luxury apartment living.  Here, they can age in place, but in a place with more amenities, more fitness activities, more social involvement, and more companionship.  And that socialization is very important.  Studies show that social isolation increases the risk of death by 30%;  some show it as high as 60%!

Assisted living and memory care facilities, of course, will still be needed, but they will have a much higher cost and be even less affordable to the average senior.  That said, senior housing still ranks as the most attractive property class for investment according to a recent survey of commercial real estate owners, managers, developers, and lenders.

So, we will age, in place, independently, and wherever we want. And I suspect most of us will choose an independent-living community surrounded by like-minded, active, involved friends – and cool technology!


Christopher Finlay  is Chairman/CEO of Lloyd Jones, a real estate investment firm that specializes in the multifamily and senior housing sectors. Based in Miami, the firm acquires, develops, improves, and operates multifamily and senior housing communities in growth markets throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast.  The firm’s investment partners include institutions, family offices, and individual accredited investors.

 

 

 

 

Inside the Deal: Lloyd Jones Capital’s Expanding Workforce Housing Portfolio

Lloyd Jones Capital’s purchase of The Westcott Apartments marked its second purchase in the market in less than a year. The Miami-based real-estate private equity firm paid $57.8 million for the 444-unit garden-style apartment complex in Tallahassee, Fla., expanding its footprint in multifamily assets located primarily in Florida, Texas and the Southeast.

Lloyd Jones, which specializes in the multifamily and senior housing sectors, was launched just four years ago, but its principals have been active in the industry for 38 years. The firm’s core strategy is to invest in cash-flowing assets that are undercapitalized or poorly managed and therefore offer value-add opportunities.

Lloyd Jones acquires, improves and operates multifamily assets with a holding strategy that ranges from three to 10 years, depending on the needs of its investors, which include institutional partners, family offices, private investors and its own principals.

Despite headwinds faced by multifamily—such as rising interest rates and construction costs as well as concerns about oversupply in some markets–Chris Finlay, chairman & CEO of Lloyd Jones Capital, remains bullish on the sector.

It’s absolutely the best asset class to invest in, primarily due to demographics,” he said. “You have 75 or 80 million Millennials, and about a third of them are still living with Mom and Dad, so there’s a huge untapped market. On the other side of the spectrum, you have the Baby Boomers, about a third of whom are renting now, and every indicator seems to show that percentage is going to increase as they get older.

Finlay said he’s not concerned about an oversupply of apartments, an issue he feels has been “exaggerated.” Due to high construction costs, most of the new supply coming online is Class A, he said, but his strategy is to focus on what he calls “market-rate workforce housing,” or housing that’s affordable to a median-income family. Since there’s little new workforce product in the pipeline, Finlay is confident that Lloyd Jones is transacting in a niche that will lead to good returns.

MARKET FUNDAMENTALS

Tallahassee is the state capital of Florida, and the multifamily market there is stable, with further growth projected. According to Yardi Matrix, in the second quarter of 2018, monthly rents averaged $1,173, up from $1,088 in the second quarter of 2016. Yardi forecasts average monthly rents to increase to $1,347 by the end of 2023. Occupancies have been holding steady, at 94.6 percent in the second quarter of 2018 and forecast to rise slightly to 94.8 percent by the end of 2023.

Unit in The Westcott Apartments

The supply/demand balance is very good there,” Finlay said. “It’s an extremely stable market because the state government is there, and irrespective of the economy, that always chugs along.

In addition, there are two major universities in Tallahassee—Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University—that drive both the student housing and off-campus multifamily markets.

Tallahassee is one of those markets that don’t boom but they don’t bust,” Finlay said. “It’s just a nice progressive growth—reasonable growth that you can count on.

Other experts agree. “The Tallahassee market has seen consistent growth over the last few years, both from a value-appreciation standpoint as well as rent growth and stabilized occupancy,” said Jad Richa, managing director of Capstone Apartment Partners in Tampa, who handles investment sales.

Richa said that every deal he’s sold recently in the area “has some value-add component to it.” Cap rates on closed deals range from 6 to 7.5 percent, he said, attracting investors priced out of gateway markets that are “chasing yield” in Tallahassee.

THE DEAL

The Westcott Apartments is a 444-unit Class B+ property located at 3909 Reserve Drive, just five miles from the state capital building. Most of the apartments were built in 2000 (300 units), with an expansion completed in 2005 (144 units). The floor plans include one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Rents at the time of acquisition ranged from $950 to $1,250, and the occupancy rate was about 93 percent. Finlay said the trailing cap rate was 5.5 percent.

It’s a great asset in a great location,” he added. “It’s in an area of Tallahassee that we see a lot of expansion happening, so there’s still room for growth. And it’s very easy to get to downtown.

Public records disclose that Lloyd Jones, which took title to the property in the name of an affiliated entity named LJC Westcott LLC, paid $54.6 million for the property. The $57.8 million purchase price reported by the company represents its total investment, including its anticipated capital expenditures and rehab costs.

The Westcott Apartments Amenities

Finlay said he was presented with the opportunity by the listing broker, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Capital Markets Group, which also arranged a $40.3 million 10-year floating-rate mortgage through Freddie Mac on behalf of the buyer. The seller was Irvine, Calif.-based Oaktree Capital, and the deal took about 90 days to close.

The prior owners invested $4.8 million in capital improvements such as landscaping, playground updates, exterior painting, two clubhouse remodels, two fitness center upgrades and unit upgrades. In line with its management strategy, Lloyd Jones plans value-add upgrades and improvements to The Westcott’s existing amenities, which include two swimming pools, two fitness centers, playgrounds and tennis courts.

Finlay said he’s spending some $7,000 per unit to upgrade about a quarter of the units, adding granite countertops, tile backsplashes, stainless-steel appliances, vinyl-plank flooring, and washers and dryers—what Finlay calls “a standard upgrade package typical in a value-add strategy.” Although the program hasn’t been implemented yet, plans call for an average $125 rent premium for upgraded units.

After improving the units, repositioning the project and raising rents, Finlay expects to sell. “This will probably be a five-year hold,” he said. “The strategy is to do the improvements and try to operate the property more efficiently and then position it to sell in five or seven years.

CRITICAL NEED

The Westcott is just one example of Finlay’s strategy to capitalize on the critical need for workforce housing in the United States. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018,” nearly one-third of all U.S. households paid more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing in 2016. For renters alone, however, the cost-burdened share is 47 percent. And of the 20.8 million renter households that are burdened, some 11 million pay more than half their incomes for housing and are severely burdened.

What we focus on is something that differentiates us from a lot of investment firms,” Finlay said. “We focus on the affordability of workforce housing.

He added that the firm’s first-year projected rents at The Westcott are at 25 percent of the median income for Tallahassee. “HUD basically stipulates that 30 percent is the guideline, and anything above 30 percent is considered rent-burdened,” he said. “We’re not even close to that 30 percent. We’re providing great housing for workforce families in that market when all the new stuff is unaffordable.

by Robyn A. Friedman

 

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Lloyd Jones Adds Development Division

Multifamily investment firm names development veteran to head division

Christopher Finlay, chairman and CEO of Lloyd Jones, has announced the appointment of Jamie Telchin as executive vice president of development and construction management. After a ten-year hiatus, Finlay is once again entering the multifamily development field. A prominent developer during the 1990s and through 2008, Finlay has spent the past ten years focused on investing in existing product through his investment company, Lloyd Jones. “It’s time,” he says, “to start ground-up.” He explains, “Active adult housing is a major focus for us, and there is little existing product to renovate to our standards. So, we are going to start from scratch and create communities that meet our specific design and quality criteria.”

To that end, Finlay has named Jamie Telchin executive vice president of development and construction management for Lloyd Jones.

Telchin is a twenty-year veteran of the real estate development industry. He has led development of over 1,500,000 square feet of vertical construction across 12 major projects and $800 million in total development costs.

He began his career developing and managing medical office buildings throughout Florida.   He then spent the next eleven years serving as president of development for Luxury Resorts & Hotels, an affiliate of The Blackstone Group, where he led the renovation of the Boca Beach Club and the ground-up development of the luxury condominium, One Thousand Ocean, along with the entitlement of numerous projects across the portfolio.

Most recently he led the development of The Bristol in West Palm Beach, an ultra-luxury condominium.  Both One Thousand Ocean and The Bristol broke sales pricing records in Palm Beach County.

Says Finlay, “We are thrilled to have someone of Jamie’s stature and knowledge to run our development division. Jamie has managed every phase of the development process: entitlements, design, construction, marketing, sales, leasing, and asset management. And he has an impressive record of landmark projects. He is a great addition to the Lloyd Jones team.”

At Lloyd Jones, Telchin directs all entities/departments involved in the development and construction of ground-up projects.  In addition, he oversees the construction management team responsible for the value-add campaigns on existing assets.

Telchin holds an MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver and is active in the Urban Land Institute where he serves as chair of the Multifamily Development Council for Florida and the Caribbean.

 

About Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones is a real estate investment firm that specializes in the multifamily and senior housing sectors. Building on thirty-eight years in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, develops, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Florida, Texas, and the Southeast. Its investors include institutional partners, private investors, and its own principals. Based in Miami, the firm maintains offices and staff throughout its market areas.

Lloyd Jones Names COO of Property Management

MIAMI — Lloyd Jones has named Steven Druth its chief operating officer of property management. Druth brings over 30 years of real estate experience to the Miami- based, real estate private equity firm.

As a commercial brokerage and management specialist, Druth operated his own Boston based firm for ten years before moving to Manhattan’s largest independent real estate agency.

“I am very excited about my expanded role at Lloyd Jones and look forward to further increasing efficiency and resident satisfaction at all of our properties,” said Druth.

Throughout his career, operational efficiency and strategic leadership have been the trademark skills that Druth will now add to the Lloyd Jones executive team.

“I’ve known Steve for many years and his people management skills are exceptional,” said Lloyd Jones chairman, Chris Finlay. “With his extensive experience in our industry, I am very confident that he will take our operating platform to a new level.”

 

About Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones is a private-equity real estate firm that specializes in the multifamily and senior housing sectors. Building on thirty-eight years in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Florida, Texas, and the Southeast. Its investors include institutional partners, family offices, private investors, and its own principals.

Lloyd Jones Capital Announces Vice President of Acquisitions

Private Equity Real Estate Firm Expands Its Texas Presence

MIAMI – Lloyd Jones Capital, a Miami-based multifamily investment firm, has announced the appointment of Neil Bertrand, vice president of acquisitions. Neil will lead the company’s acquisition effort for the Texas market.

“The addition of Neil to our team is instrumental as we continue to seek acquisition opportunities in Texas, one of our key strategic markets,” commented Chris Finlay, Lloyd Jones Capital, chairman and CEO.

Neil Bertrand’s 20-year real estate career includes positions with four of National Multifamily Housing Council’s Top 50 Firms. Throughout the course of his career, Neil has been responsible for the oversight of conventional, tax credit, senior housing, and student housing portfolios. Neil has led projects including acquisition analysis, due diligence, renovation, new construction, and lease-up of assets in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and North Carolina.

“I am excited to join the Lloyd Jones Capital team. With a successful history of more than 35 years in real estate, the company continues to produce positive results for its investors. Leading the state’s acquisition efforts should yield long-term results as Texas continues to lead the nation in employment growth,” remarked Neil Bertrand.

Neil attended Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas, and holds the Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS®) designation from the National Apartment Association. He is also an Accredited Residential Manager (ARM®) and a Certified Property Manager (CPM®) Candidate with the Institute of Real Estate Management.

About Lloyd Jones Capital

Lloyd Jones Capital is a private-equity real estate firm that specializes in the multifamily sector. With 37 years of experience in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast. Lloyd Jones Capital provides a fully integrated investment/operations platform.  Its property management arm partners with the investment team to provide local expertise in each of its markets.

Headquartered in Miami, the firm has offices throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast, plus New York City.  The firm’s investors include institutional partners, private investors, and its own principals. For more information visit: lloydjonesllc.com.

Lloyd Jones Capital Acquires Jacksonville Apartment Community

MIAMI –  Lloyd Jones Capital, a Miami-based multifamily investment firm, has acquired the Deerwood Park apartment community in Jacksonville, Florida. The property is located in the Deerwood Office Park on Touchton Road, home to 5.2 million square feet of office space and the largest employers in the MSA. Residents of Deerwood Park enjoy an address that offers a live, work and play lifestyle in Southside, one of Jacksonville’s most desirable neighborhoods.

The 282-unit acquisition brings the Lloyd Jones Capital multifamily portfolio to nearly 5,000 units spread across Texas, Florida, and the Southeast.

“We are elated with the acquisition of Deerwood Park. Jacksonville is a key market for us and Deerwood Park is a value-add asset with tremendous upside opportunity,” commented Chris Finlay, chairman and CEO of Lloyd Jones Capital. “Lloyd Jones Capital plans to enhance the property with a value-add program that we anticipate will yield rent and occupancy growth for our investors.”

Built in 2002, the gated property offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments with highly sought-after amenities including attached garages, a resort luxury style pool, outdoor kitchen with gas grills and a dog park.

Deerwood Park will be managed by Finlay Management, the operations group at Lloyd Jones Capital.  Finlay Management is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO®) as designated by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®) and has a 37-year history in the industry.

About Lloyd Jones Capital

Lloyd Jones Capital is a private-equity real estate firm that specializes in the multifamily sector. With 37 years of experience in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast. Lloyd Jones Capital provides a fully integrated investment/operations platform.  Its property management arm partners with the investment team to provide local expertise in each of its markets.

Headquartered in Miami, the firm has offices throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast, plus New York City.  The firm’s investors include institutional partners, private investors, and its own principals. For more information visit: lloydjonesllc.com.

 

Lloyd Jones Capital Acquires 242-Unit Tallahassee Apartment Community

MIAMI –  Lloyd Jones Capital, a Miami-based multifamily investment firm, has purchased the Jackson Square apartment community in Tallahassee, the Florida state capital. The property is located at 1767 Hermitage Boulevard which connects Thomasville Road and Capital Circle, NE, just south of I-10. The 242-unit acquisition brings the Lloyd Jones Capital portfolio to 4,500 units spread across Texas, Florida, and the Southeast.

Says Chris Finlay, chairman/CEO of Lloyd Jones Capital, “This is a well-maintained property, with every amenity, in one of the best neighborhoods of Tallahassee.  We expect it to provide steady income and capital appreciation for our investors.”

Built in 1996, the property offers one-, two-, and 3-bedroom apartments; garages; and a modern clubhouse that includes an interior racquetball court.  Lloyd Jones Capital will continue a value-add program initiated by the previous owner. Finlay adds, “Our local teams scour Texas, Florida, and the Southeast for good investment properties; they are hard to find. Jackson Square is one of the best.”

According to Finlay, property management will be handled by Finlay Management, the operations group at Lloyd Jones Capital.  Finlay Management is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO®) as designated by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®) and has a 37-year history in the industry.

About Lloyd Jones Capital

Lloyd Jones Capital is a private-equity real estate firm that specializes in the multifamily sector. With 37 years of experience in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast.

Lloyd Jones Capital provides a fully integrated investment/operations platform.  Its property management arm partners with the investment team to provide local expertise in each of its markets.

Headquartered in Miami, the firm has offices throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast, plus New York City.  The firm’s investors include institutional partners, private investors, and its own principals.

For more information visit:  lloydjonesllc.com.

 

Affordable Housing – It’s time to shake it up.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the American dream was to own a modest home in which to raise a family. This was more than a dream; it was an assumption, an expectation. Even the lowest-income workers aimed for and usually achieved, this dream. Not anymore. There is a tremendous last of affordable housing. Millions of our working families cannot even afford a rental apartment.

But that can change. I submit that we can double affordable housing assistance without increasing funding. We currently spend

$50 billion for affordable housing programs

plus

$130 billion to assist non-low income households via tax deductions

Billions. That’s a lot of money. Where does it go?

1. Affordable housing.

Federal and state governments have literally hundreds of programs designed to provide housing assistance – $50 billion worth. This massive bureaucracy comes at a tremendous cost to efficiency, and it meets the needs of only a fraction of the very-low-income population. Plus, it drives up the costs.

2. Assistance for home-owners

We spend $130 billion to assist non-low- income households through mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions. $130 billion to home-owners when we have homeless families?

I’ve just finished reading a 2015 report by the Congressional Budget Office (Federal Housing Assistance for Low-Income Households). It looks at several potential policy changes to address the problem of affordable housing: revising the composition of the assisted population, adjusting tenant contributions to the rent payment on HUD’s voucher program, and repealing and/or replacing various programs. (Just repealing the LIHTC [Low Income Housing Tax Credit] program would increase revenues $42 billion over the next 10 years per the Joint Committee on Taxation.)

This CBO report is an analysis of various options; it offers no solutions. I propose an additional option, but first, we have to address the real issue.

The real issue:

In my opinion, these options do not address the underlying problem: the massive bureaucracy inherent in any government program. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy: administration, multi-tiered approvals, pages and pages of legislative rules and regulations, legal fees, accounting fees, compliance fees – and record maintenance into perpetuity. In one of my LIHTC compliance newsletters, the writer took over 350 words to explain “simply” which income limits to use to qualify a household. If it takes 350 words to tell me which year’s income limits I must use, it’s not simple. It takes attorneys, accountants, and compliance experts to understand the intricacies of each program. How many thousands of people are involved in every project? It’s very expensive to produce affordable housing. I recently read that the cost to construct a low-income housing tax credit unit is $250,000 – for one unit!! I suspect that same unit, market rate, would come in around $150,000.

My Proposal: Let’s dismantle the entire bureaucracy!

Let’s use the funds – from all sources – and provide assistance directly to the end user whose income is too low to afford a median-income rental apartment.

How many would qualify?

According to the CBO report, in 2014 the federal government provided about $50 billion in housing assistance to 4.8 million low-income households. But we have 20 million eligible households (those earning less than 50% of Area Median Income), so we still have 15 million very-low- income households that receive no assistance.

And what about those between 50% and 100% of median? Families earning $30,000 to $60,000 dollars? According to a 2015 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, 20 percent of households earning $45,000–$74,999 (median area income range) were cost burdened in 2014.

The term “cost burdened” typically refers to those paying more than 30 percent of income on housing expenses, including utilities. In my opinion, that definition should be raised to 35 percent or 40 percent.

New System:

Now let’s design a system to provide funds directly to the end user– the household or person needing the assistance. Note that I said “directly.” Let’s cut out the middlemen. Let’s keep it simple. Basically, the recipient needs to prove his/her income, perhaps with an income tax return.

Households whose incomes are below national median income (adjusted for family size) will receive a stipend to supplement their incomes to the point that they can afford a median income rent (i.e. 30 percent of national median income.) This stipend will allow renters to go to any apartment in the country and rent whatever they want and wherever they want.

Assume national median income is $55,000. (In 2015, it was $55,775, per US Census.) Affordable rent for a median-income household of four is $1375 per month. ($55,000 /12 x .30)

So, let’s make sure every household can pay $1375 (adjusted for household size).

For instance, if the household earns only $40,000, it can afford $1167 without being overburdened. That household would receive a monthly stipend of $208. ($1375-$1167)

What if the household lives in a high-income area? Let’s take Dallas as an example.

Median income is $71,700, so median income rent is close to $1,800. This same household would have a choice: Stay in Dallas and pay an extra $450 out of pocket (The difference between national median rent and Dallas median rent) or move to a more affordable community. Again, it’s a choice.

The point is: instead of spending billions of dollars on bureaucracy and expensive production, give the money to the end users. Let them decide their own priorities. Proximity to work? Superior school system? Or maybe someone just likes a blue building. Whatever. The recipients may decide to spend more (or less) than 35% of their income on housing (like our Dallas household). That’s OK.

They can’t do that now with a HUD housing voucher. HUD restricts the amount they can pay, so they have no choice of lifestyle or location, or even the number of bedrooms, for that matter.

Employment- a very important issue

I’m talking here about low-income wage earners. There’s no employment requirement to receive HUD housing vouchers. In fact, the CBO report refers to studies that indicate receipt of a voucher reduces both household employment and earnings. About one-half of HUD’s housing voucher and public housing recipients are of work age and able-bodied, but only half of those count work as a majority of their income. Their other income comes from supplemental non-housing assistance.

In my plan, to receive the proposed stipend, households must show a willingness to work, preferably in a full-time capacity. But, per the report, the cost to wean recipients off housing assistance will cost about $10 billion. (more bureaucracy/administration?)

What has happened to common sense? Our voluminous legislative regulations, encouraged by special interest groups have us so tied up in “programs” that we are failing the working American family. There’s a lot of talk about adjusting programs, but I am talking about eliminating them.

Of course, my broad-brush vision is just that – a general concept. But it is based on my thirty-five years in the multifamily industry, as LIHTC developer, manager and now, investor. I think the number crunchers will show it can work. To get from here to there, however, will not be an easy task.

Christopher Finlay is Chairman/CEO of Lloyd Jones Capital, a private-equity real-estate firm that specializes in the multifamily sector. With 35 years of experience in the real estate industry, the firm acquires, manages and improves multifamily real estate on behalf of its institutional partners, private investors and its own principals. Headquartered in Miami, the firm has operations throughout Texas, Florida and the Southeast. For more information visit: lloydjones.wpengine.com.

Chris Finlay Reflects on His Journey From Airline Pilot to Real Estate Investor

By: Nicholas Nehams

December 11, 2016

Real estate investor Chris Finlay got his start as a commercial airline pilot.

“I’d fly down to Acapulco, spend a day and a half, then fly back to New York,” Finlay said. “It’s not a bad way to make a living.”

He says he learned one lesson from his old profession that applies to his new one: “Don’t run out of gas.”

Finlay runs Miami-based Lloyd Jones Capital, which owns about 25 multifamily apartment buildings with 5,000 units in Texas, Florida and South Carolina. Total value? More than $500 million.

His firm looks for deals in the $20 million to $50 million range, renovating buildings and expecting at least a 20 percent return on the improvements. He also leads Jacksonville-based company Finlay Management, which manages the properties.

“Florida is booming,” Finlay says, but his company avoids investing in South Florida because of exorbitant prices. It recently sold its last property in Miami Beach. “It’s like New York City. The returns are very low. A lot of money wants to be here.”

He answered these questions from the Miami Herald via email.

Q: How did you go from being a pilot to investing in real estate?

A: I began my career as an airline pilot for Eastern Airlines. I married a Miami girl, but my flying took us north to New York and Boston.

In those days, airline pilots enjoyed an abundance of free time, so in 1980, I started a commercial real estate company. The Finlay Company took off as we opened offices throughout New England and expanded to include property management and appraisal divisions, in addition to commercial brokerage. Eventually, I took early retirement from Eastern in order to concentrate on my real estate businesses. Sadly, a few years later, Eastern closed its doors.

In the late ’80s, the FDIC shut down many of New England’s largest banks, and the commercial real estate industry came to an abrupt halt. We worked our way through that period by expanding our property management arm to become the asset manager of the FDIC’s second largest portfolio of OREO assets.

By the early ’90s, things had settled down and we entered our “development” phase. Specializing in affordable housing, the low income tax credit program in particular, we developed and constructed approximately forty affordable apartment communities throughout the country, including some award-winning historic renovation projects. At the same time, we continued to expand our property management arm, Finlay Management, to accommodate our growing portfolio of multifamily assets. We also found a niche “build to lease” opportunity with the US Postal Service, so we spent several years acquiring land and building post office facilities as far west as Oregon and New Mexico. Our final real estate development was in 2008 when the Orlando Housing Authority chose us to be the developer of its $50 million HOPE VI inner city revitalization project.

Then the “Great Recession” hit, and we started acquiring multifamily communities. In 2010, our model was to acquire underperforming multifamily assets, operate and improve them with the help of Finlay Management. This proved to be extremely successful, so in 2014, we officially established Lloyd Jones Capital to open our investments to private investors and institutions. And the establishment of Lloyd Jones Capital brought us happily back to Miami.

Q: What was your first real estate deal and what did it teach you?

A: Back about 1970, my new father-in-law suggested that we share an investment in a South Florida avocado grove. That investment launched my interest in real estate, and the words of the grove manager have stayed with me throughout my career: “The best fertilizer is the farmer’s foot on the soil.”

Q: What do you look for when investing?

A: We are multifamily investors. Multifamily has been the most secure and least volatile of all real estate assets classes. In fact, all real estate has outperformed the equity markets for years. And we specialize in workforce housing. In our model, workforce housing represents housing affordable to median income households. Our goal is to identify and acquire assets that can be improved – through strong management and/or through the addition of amenities and unit upgrades, including energy efficiencies and water conservation—to provide a quality, but affordable, lifestyle for our residents.

We focus on metro areas of Texas, Florida and South Carolina. Our acquisitions are “C” and “B” properties in good neighborhoods. We look for highly rated school districts and low crime rates — and always areas with high population and job growth.

Priorities: Preservation of capital, i.e., don’t lose money, even in down markets. Reasonable return throughout our hold period. Our acquisitions are not predicated on big “pops” at disposition. Capital appreciation.

Q: Why do you focus on Texas, Florida and South Carolina?

A: ▪ Job growth.

▪ Population growth.

▪ Pro-business, low tax, “low bureaucracy” states.

Q: Why is investing in South Florida a challenge?

I think this is due to the amount of international money flowing into the area. People just want a “trophy asset” in Miami regardless of its economic value (or lack thereof). The area’s desirability to foreign investors pushes up prices and erodes returns.

Q: How can we fix America’s affordable housing system as it exists today?

Government bureaucracy, special interests and subsidies have created a very expensive system. It costs $240,000 per unit to produce a property under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. A market-rate developer can build the same product for $140,000 per unit.

Instead of burdensome, bureaucratic subsidies to developers, perhaps a better solution would be to provide subsidies directly to the users themselves. Give them vouchers, depending on their income, to help bridge the gap. (But not like Section 8 vouchers that limit their choices.) Let them choose where they want to live, their neighborhoods, and their schools, instead of relegating them to specific buildings and even specific unit sizes. In my opinion, that approach would at least double the number of households receiving help.

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