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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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Choosing a Real Estate Investment Partner? Six Questions to Ask

Before you entrust your funds to a real estate investment partner, ask some questions.

First: Is your real estate investment partner an Allocator or an Operator? There is a big difference.

Allocators distribute capital on your behalf to Operators. Allocators seek the best operators and invest, on your behalf, in whatever funds and deals operators bring to them. Allocators make sense if you are a pension fund (or similar) with no expertise in real estate investment. You are basically outsourcing that function and knowledge; however, it comes at a cost. You have no input in asset selection or fund strategy. And of course, the Allocator charges fees. This adds an additional layer of costs to you, and these fees come out of the investment thus reducing your returns. An Operator, on the other hand, is the preferred solution if you have the resources to analyze a specific fund or an individual deal. If you invest directly with a real estate operator, you will not only save a layer of expensive fees, but also get to choose a fund investment strategy, (or particular asset), its geography, investment term, and even the potential returns. But be careful how you choose an operator. They are not all the same.

Six questions you should ask your operator:

  1. Focus. What asset class do you specialize in?

If the answer is “retail, industrial, and student housing…” Run! An operator must be an expert in a specific asset class.

  1. Market. What markets do you specialize in?

The same applies to markets. A real estate operator must have a physical presence in the target market to really understand its nuances and trends.

  1. How long have you been in business? In the specific asset class? In the specific market?

Experience is priceless.

  1. How many economic cycles have you experienced? How did you weather the market crashes of early ’90s and ’08?

Real estate is great while the market is booming. Does your operator know what to do in a crash?

  1. Who manages your investment properties? Do you outsource to a 3rd party management company?

There is no substitute for your own, on-site management of your assets. As a wise farmer once told me, “The best fertilizer is the farmer’s foot on the soil.” This applies to property management, as well. You must have your foot – and your hands, eyes, and ears — on the property, at all times. The 3rd party manager has no skin in the game. It’s not his money at risk if there is a budget shortfall.

A word about property management: It is local, hands-on, and very difficult – and probably the most important aspect of a real estate investment. Your management team, especially at the site level, is critical to your property’s success. Few investors/operators pay enough attention to this fact. Let me assure you, it’s very, very difficult to assemble the right team. I can hire 1,000 financial analysts more easily than one, excellent on-site property manager. It’s that hard.

  1. How much of your own money are you putting in the deal?

Most sophisticated investors want to see the operator have money in the deal. It gives them comfort knowing that if the investment is not successful, the operator will share the pain.

At Lloyd Jones Capital, we always invest alongside our real estate investment partners, but, in fact, maintaining our good reputation and strong track record is what motivates us to succeed. With the transparency in the market today, an operator’s reputation is far more valuable than his money.

In summary, when choosing a real estate investment partner, ask these questions and remember:

Real estate is local and hands-on. Your partner should be, too.

Christopher Finlay is Chairman/CEO of Lloyd Jones Capital, a private-equity real estate operator that specializes in the multifamily and senior housing sectors. Headquartered in Miami, the firm acquires, improves, and operates multifamily real estate in growth markets throughout Texas, Florida, and the Southeast. Its affiliated management group is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO®) with a thirty-five-year history in multifamily real estate.

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.

Skip the Flip in Multifamily Investment

It’s time to go long.

Historically, multifamily investment has been about long-term, cash-flow returns. However, in recent years, as the industry caught the eye of private equity, the emphasis turned to a property’s IRR or Internal Rate of Return.

The “fix and flip”, the “value-add” became the standard: short hold, quick fix, big return. And the multifamily real estate buying frenzy began. The strategy has proved to be very profitable over the past five or six years, but in my opinion, those days are (almost) gone – for several reasons.

TODAY, THERE’S NOT ENOUGH MEAT left on the bones of C and B properties to ensure investors of increased rents and resultant returns. The fix and flip strategy had been to buy an apartment community and execute a “value-add” to approximately 20% of the units, thus leaving “meat on the bone” for the next investor. At the same time, the investor would raise the rents to cover the cost of the improvements. So rents increased, NOIs rose, prices went up, and the buying frenzy continued.

The next investor then thought he could upgrade another 40% of the units. But in fact, as cap rates fell and he had to pay more for the asset, he had to rehab 70% or 80% to reach his hurdles, leaving almost nothing left for the following investor. Consequently, today, after a couple of “flips”, most “value-add” deals don’t make financial sense.

RENTAL RATE INCREASES  Because of demand, rents have risen sharply in nearly every market, but according to economists, that increase should moderate to about 3.5 to 4% due to new construction coming online. Consequently, investors cannot assume drastic rent increases in their acquisition proformas. If it doesn’t work now, it won’t work in the future.

THE ECONOMY:  We’re long into our economic expansion cycle having exceeded the historic five-year average, but today in the US, growth is virtually stagnant. Are we reaching the peak? The good news is that multifamily real estate will continue to be among the strongest asset classes (if not #1) for reliable, steady returns regardless of the stage of the economic cycle. Why?

DEMAND: There is still an unfulfilled demand that is expected to be with us for a long time. That is the multifamily investment’s ace in the hole. Seventy-five million millennials plus another 75 million baby boomers. The multifamily rental business is poised to perform better than any other asset class. We have all read about millennials and their student loan debt and inability to afford a home. I personally think it has little to do with money. It’s about lifestyle, flexibility, and priorities. Young people want flexibility to move to that next job; they want amenities and social interaction. A house is not a priority to them. Retiring baby boomers, on the other hand, have “been there; done that.”  They are ready to free themselves from the burdens and expenses of home ownership. Whatever the reason, more people are renting today than at any time in the past 51 years.

INTEREST RATES: This brings us to interest rates – a very key and important ingredient in real estate investment. Who knows what might happen next? Answer: Nobody. One thing we do know: there’s little likelihood of a reduction in interest rates, although it’s not impossible. In Europe, where the real rate is in negative territory, some banks are considering storing money in their vaults because of the negative yields. It costs them money to make loans! And the US is getting close to that level. (See my blog post from June 14, 2016, titled “Is it time to keep your money under the mattress?“) But luckily for the multifamily investment industry, this big question mark can be taken off the table. We can counter the risk by locking in fixed rates today. We know what our debt will be for the duration of our investment.

So what does all this have to do with “going long”?

Multifamily investment is probably the most stable, reliable investment one can choose. But the strategy has changed. It’s time to “go long.” Forget about the unrealistically high-return value-adds so prevalent at the beginning of this cycle. They no longer exist. Lloyd Jones Capital recommends buying quality properties that produce consistent cash flow. Focus more on yield than IRR. Consider a long-term hold and do not over-leverage. Then, assuming good management, you should enjoy a reliable, long-term return on your investment.

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.

Is It Time To Keep Your Money Under The Mattress?

Wait…There’s a better solution.

Interest rates are plunging around the world; some are even closing below zero. And with negative and minimal inflation, the real interest rates are also pushing 0%.

A June 9th Financial Times article on negative rates stated “Lenders in Europe and Japan are rebelling against their central banks’ negative interest rate policies with one big German group going so far as to weigh storing excess deposits in vaults.” And some fund managers are telling clients to keep their cash “under the mattress”! Wow!

It’s understandable when you see real interest rates. A recent Wall Street Journal article included an interesting chart of selected government bond yields. To calculate a real interest rate, economists subtract inflation from the nominal yield – thus the economic struggle between yields and inflation. And on June 10th, the 10-year US Treasury yield fell to its lowest close in 3 years. (At this writing, after Brexit, the 10-year Treasury has fallen below 1.50%.)

lloyd jones capital interest rates chart

No wonder some banks are considering storing money in vaults! Now, compare those returns to direct multifamily investment. With a conservative 60% leverage, a good multifamily real estate investment can earn 8% returns with minimal downside risk. Plus, real estate is a strong hedge against interest rate changes and inflation.

Wise investors are beginning to recognize the value of multifamily real estate investment. In light of this (sometimes negative) interest-rate scenario, it’s time to assign a portion of your investment portfolio to solid multifamily real estate in high growth markets with, of course, conservative leverage.

Look at the Harvard University endowment. Its fiscal 2015 real estate portfolio was its highest returning asset class, at 19.4%. And Yale’s legendary endowment fund, which has consistently outperformed its counterparts, attributes its success to its alternative assets.

Duplicating Harvard’s results going forward is unlikely. But multifamily assets can produce easily an 8% yield and a conservative 16% IRR over the next seven-to ten-year period. And, with depreciation, they will provide a significant tax advantage for the individual investor.

Granted, these investments are not available on your Bloomberg terminal, unless you want to invest in REITS, which are like stock. Even REITS can produce 4% returns and offer liquidity, but the after-tax returns will be substantially less than a good multifamily direct investment. An experienced real estate investment specialist will guide you through the investment process. Be sure that firm has a strong operations arm. Operations is the key to property performance.

So what is the proper allocation? In my opinion, you need 20% in direct, multifamily real estate investment. (Harvard’s real estate commitment for 2016 is between 10% and 17%. Yale University allocated 17.6 percent to real estate in 2014.) After that, I’d suggest 40% stocks; 30% bonds; 10% alternatives.

In all my years (35 in this business) I have never seen such a disparity between yield on the 10-year Treasury and a quality multifamily asset. You’ll notice that I stress “multifamily.” I would be extremely cautious about retail and office investment. But nothing makes more sense than direct multifamily investment. The demographic demand is unprecedented. And everybody needs a place to live.

 

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.

Thank You, Harvard. New Study Confirms Multifamily Rental Growth

Thank you, Harvard.

Once again, Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies has published a brilliant paper on the status of rental housing. This study supports what we have been saying for the past couple of years– but says it much better than I can. I thought I would share some of the findings relevant to the multifamily investment community and add my two cents. (You can ignore my two cents, but do read the study. It is very interesting.)

 

Among the findings:

Renter Households Number Almost 43 Million (Out of 116 Million Households)

  • Renters now represent 37% of all households, the highest number since the mid-1960s.

That’s a lot of renters, and they need decent housing.

 

Rental Demand is Broad-Based

  • Income: Renters in the top income bracket grew by 61%. In fact, households with incomes of $100,000 or more accounted for 18% of the rental growth from 2005 to 2015.
  • Household size: Single-person households or married couples without children represented half of the growth.
  • Age: The number of renters aged 50 and over grew 50% in the past ten years. In fact, Baby Boomers (50+) represented the largest share of rental growth.

In fact, households of all generations and all income levels have created an increasing demand for rental housing. We now have 43 million renter households in America. And Millennials – the typical, young, first time renters – are still living at home – 25 million of them! Add that to the current 43 million. On top of that, Baby Boomers are predicted to occupy another 12 million rental units in the coming years. That’s a huge pent-up demand! These are astonishing rental housing demographics. And the study suggests that growth in the adult population alone will increase these numbers.  

 

Investors Are Seeing Strong Returns

  • Annual returns grew to 12% in the 3rd quarter of 2015. Historically they have averaged 9.5%.
  • Cap rates are down to about 5 percent, the lowest since the housing bubble.

And this is why Lloyd Jones Capital advises caution when investing in multifamily real estate assets. There is too much capital chasing too little supply. You have to be very careful not to be caught up in the real estate buying frenzy. And be sure you have a seasoned operator who can manage the investment asset.  From personal experience, we know the importance of dedicated property management to the success of any project, which is why we have worked very hard to create the finest management arm in the industry.

 

Housing Affordability is a New Challenge

  • Housing costs are up 7% in real terms since 2001; median renter household income is down 9% in real terms.
  • “Burdened renters” (those spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs) now number 21.3 million, half of whom are severely burdened (spending 50% of income on housing costs).
  • There are 11.1 million extremely low-income renters (30% of median income) and only 7.2 million units affordable to them.

There’s a lot of new multifamily rental construction, but it is only for high-income renters. The very-low-income renters have at least some assistance. It’s the middle-income American workforce that lacks a supply of quality housing.

 

Federal Assistance Falls Short

  • Since its inception in 1986, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program has added or preserved more than 2.2 million units. (However, many affordability periods will end between 2015 and 2025 which could jeopardize affordable housing options.) This program provides affordable housing to households earning less than 50% or 60% of median income.

This sounds good, and the LIHTC units are typically well constructed and well maintained. As a developer of approximately 40 LIHTC communities throughout the US, I know the program well. However, what began with great intentions during the Reagan era, has subsequently been diluted by all the layers of bureaucracy and special interests. Now, in fact, the cost to construct a LIHTC property can be double that of a market rate, Class A property.

  • The United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has programs, including the voucher assistance, which cover very-low-income households (those earning less than 50% of median income). But real funding for those programs remains below 2008 levels. And the average wait time for a voucher is 23 months.

I have some suggestions here, but will leave the details up to those who understand the HUD housing programs better than I. There are a lot of programs for the very poor. But what about the American workforce that also struggles to find affordable housing? These households don’t have all the assistance that is available to the very low income households. If you took all the money poured into various programs, including LIHTC, and applied it directly to vouchers, I suspect households would be moving out of bad neighborhoods and into safer communities. First, I would expand the voucher program. I would include households above the “very low-income” levels (50% of median income). I would give the low-to-middle income earner some financial assistance, and then let the household choose a neighborhood. Right now, the household is limited by the maximum rent HUD decides is appropriate, and often that is not high enough to meet the asking rent in a nice property. Let the voucher holder contribute to the rent. Let the voucher holder decide priorities. It might be worth being “burdened” in order to live closer to work or in a highly rated school district.

Again, at Lloyd Jones Capital, we are a real estate investment firm that is addressing this issue with our American Workforce Housing Fund. Through this fund, we are acquiring C and C+ properties in good neighborhoods. With modernization and upgrades, we can give these communities amenities similar to those found in Class A properties. And the rental rates remain affordable.

In summary, this is fascinating information regarding the multifamily real estate sector. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University does an exceptional job compiling and presenting the data. The study is full of interesting charts and facts. At Lloyd Jones Capital, we have been saying these things for the past couple of years as we follow trends in cap rates, occupancy rates, etc. We are grateful to Harvard for supplying the quantifying support. You can find the complete study with abundant charts and data here.

 

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.

 

What Does 2015 Tell Us About 2016?

In reviewing 2015, I am reminded of the issues that dominated multifamily investment discussion.

Let’s start with the funds. Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest alternative-asset manager, has collected $15.8 billion for its global real estate fund. As of June, 2015, it was overseeing $93 billion in real estate assets. Goldman Sachs is oversubscribed for its $5.3 billion real estate fund. (bloomberg.com/news.)
What does this mean? These are smart people – and they have chosen real estate as their investment class. We all know that real estate provides a stable diversification to the volatility of the equity markets, and it has outperformed those markets for many, many years. But the enormity of these funds is concrete affirmation of its global favor.

Then consider the Millennials: 25 million classic apartment renters are still living at home. And it will be a while before they can afford—or want –to purchase a home: student debt; flexibility to move for job opportunities; later marriages and children, etc. And recently FHA has ruled that potential home buyers who carry student debt will have to include that debt (even deferred) in their debt-to-income calculations. So it will be even harder to qualify for a mortgage. They (25 million) will need rental housing. That’s a lot of apartments.

And the Baby Boomers (born between mid-40s and mid-60s) are also looking to rent. There will be 76 million baby boomers retiring en masse in coming years. Some reports anticipate that in the next fifteen years, renters 65 and older will grow in number to 12.2 million. (Gloria Stilwell, Bloomberg News) Other reports suggest that Boomers may be slower to downsize as the housing bubble peaks, but add that this situation is temporary. Boomers currently occupy 32 million homes, but as circumstances inevitably change, “their actions will reverberate through the housing market.” (Kenneth Harney, Washington Report to Miami Herald. 12/6/15.) That’s even more demand for rental apartments.

That brings us to the housing bubble. With the rise in housing prices, the “US housing market across the board is moving toward rent territory,” Ken Johnson, Ph.D. Especially in Dallas, Houston, and Denver, in terms of wealth creation, data suggest renting as opposed to buying.

Finally – senior housing: It’s not your grandma’s “old folks” home. No more rocking chairs; no more flowered wallpaper, antique credenzas and calico curtains; no reference to “retirees.” By federal law, 55 is the minimum age for “senior housing,” but who at 55 wants to be considered “senior”? (My wife has refused senior discounts because “It sounds so old.”)

Our Baby Boomer renters want a continuation of their active and social lifestyles –but without the headaches. They want modern, show-house furnishings, designer finishes. They want a carefree, luxury lifestyle. They want rental apartments.

Put these all together, and the future of multifamily investment is very exciting. We are going to be busy. The problem is that everybody is jumping on the bandwagon, and there are some crazy deals going down. Good investments are out there, but they are really hard to find. That’s why Lloyd Jones Capital has “boots on the ground” in each of our markets. Not just any boots, but highly experienced VPs, teamed with regional property managers. They scout the area for off-market opportunities.

For 2016, multifamily will continue as the darling of the real estate investment industry. But we must be careful. I predict a cap rate compression unlike anything we have seen before. And that will create other issues. (But I’ll discuss those in another message.)

In the meantime, we aggressively look for solid B and C properties in B and B+ neighborhoods, properties with steady cash flow that show opportunity for improvement. It takes hours and hours of looking and a lot of hard work, but we at Lloyd Jones Capital are very proud of our work ethic and the success it brought us in 2015. And we expect 2016 to be even better.

 

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.