Like many industries, commercial real estate has taken a hit over the past month. While some sectors, such as hospitality, have been severely battered, others should be able to weather the storm. One of those havens is middle-market multifamily, according to Jon Morgan, co-founder and managing principal at Interra Realty.
“I think people’s concern that this is a true recession is a little misguided only in the sense that I think it’s going to be specific for certain asset classes,” Morgan says.
In the last few weeks, Morgan’s firm, which brokers multifamily deals, has received several inquiries from people outside of the apartment industry.
“People are paying a lot more attention to our opportunities,” Morgan says. “What we’ve seen in the last three weeks is a rush from people that own office, hospitality and retail that have never really been interested in our offerings or talking about multifamily.”
Investors from one sector, in particular, appeared poised to look harder at apartments. “I think we’re going to see a pretty strong interest from those groups that had earmarked funds specifically towards hospitality,” Morgan says. “Why not go out and find alternative investments that are going to provide a safer, comparable yield?”
Compared to other sectors, Morgan thinks rent collection at middle-level multifamily properties has held up reasonably well, though no one knows what the future holds.
“I believe that most of the conversations landlords are having with their tenants are on an existing basis,” Morgan says. “If there’s a hardship, they’re working with them. But in the event there’s no hardship, it’s a normal course.”
It also helps that there’s still money being lent for apartments from the GSEs. “Fannie and Freddie have capital right now,” Morgan says. “The deals are getting closed.”
Add it all together, and Morgan says there are a lot of reasons to see safety in the multifamily sector. “You have all of these things that are working together, which is people need a home. People also need readily available debt, and that marketplace is fully available for middle market multifamily,” he says.
Further bolstering the sector is the difficulty of getting a new construction loan right now, according to Morgan.
“It’s much more challenging, and you can’t go get a loan on retail or hospitality for the foreseeable future,” Morgan says. “But I’m still getting phone calls from banks and investors about the middle market. People are scheduling tours already for weeks out. So I think it’s a pretty good sign that we won’t really see too much impact from this.”