This year’s BISNOW multifamily summit featured two separate panels, one focused on Development and the second focused on multifamily owners and operators. The development panel gave us more insight into the frenzied building environment in Boston and noted that the roughly 5000 new units planned as of last year are mostly on track to meet their target deadlines and roughly 2000 units are already in construction. Of note is the fact that the majority of these new units are targeting high end renters with projected rent prices at or above $4 per sq.ft. The general consensus of the panel was that it will be interesting to see if the market will absorb all of these high priced luxury rentals or if the later projects will have a tough time in lease up. My guess is yes! At $4+ per sq.ft were looking at an average 2 bed renting for around 5k per month which adds up to roughly 80k in pre tax dollars. Are there really 5000 new households that can afford that much in rent? With rates so low, why not buy? That’s exactly what the saving grace may be. It seemed as though the panels consensus was that the majority of the new projects are being built so they can easily be switched to a condo project should the rental market for high end luxury show weakness. I say congrats and I’m glad we learned something from the last real estate bubble! Flexibility is key in new development.
The second panel was the most interesting to me as it was comprised of two of what I consider to be the best players in the Private sector Boston Multifamily market; Harold Brown and Bruce Percelay, and they didn’t disappoint. The duo expressed cautious optimism and that now is still a great time to buy, but expressed concern over new players in the market driving prices up and cap rates down. As Harold put it, “im bullish on the market for the next 2 -6 years”. They also discussed how their respective companies now discuss how long their wait list is for apartments, not how big their vacancy rate is; how about that for an indicator of how good the Boston rental market is? Both men are steering their companies towards increased acquisition and more development in the next 12 months and with seemingly negative vacancy rates in the higher quality rental assets it seems like we should all do the same. Lets face it these guys know what they are doing. Lastly, and most notably, ill leave you my quote of the day from Harold, “To make money in real estate is easy, you just have to stay alive”. I love this guy.