Mindy Korth and Ryan Spiekerman

PHOENIX – A panel of real estate professionals met Thursday to discuss multifamily housing as a market indicator as part of the RealShare Phoenix Metro 2013 conference at The Phoenician Resort. The panel was moderated by Daniel Palmier, president and CEO of UC Funding, LLC.

Some of the discussion centered on interest rates, with little conclusion.

“What the interest rates mean, and they will rise,” said Cliff David, vice president of investments for Marcus & Milichap Real Estate Investment Services, “is that it’s a healthy thing fundamentally. If you are booking seven to ten-year debt, that’s a really good story for Phoenix.”

Mark Forrester, senior partner at Hendricks-Berkadia, had a different take.

“You can’t just look at the interest rates because they’re not happening in a vacuum. There are so many other components,” said Forrester.

Michael Klein, chief operating officer and fund manager for Partners Capital Solutions, Inc. admitted the relative unpredictability of interest rates, but stated: “You can take a look out at your projects and see where they may land. Most of ours are 12 to 18 months. But if you’re asking, I think things will remain relatively flat for a while.”

The trend of adaptive re-use and repurpose of older buildings was a popular topic, as were infill projects in general.

“We’re achieving rents we’ve never seen before because we’re seeing renters by choice rather than by necessity. They are attracted to amenities, to shopping, to proximity to public transportation,” said David.

Neal Churney, senior vice president for Johnson Capital concurred. “People are now more than ever looking for good locations with the right amenities.”

“We are seeing teardowns in downtown Phoenix,” said Forrester. There is still some vacant land. The problem is that downtown, the land prices have gone sky high, though infill development is clearly coming along.”

Enthusiasm for the Phoenix multifamily market ran high among the panel, citing a business-friendly climate and overall high standard of living.

“Investors are ecstatic about the cap rate, it’s a well-rounded community, I mean it’s reaching critical mass,” said Forrester.

Churney cited the big push to be sub-market driven, “Much more so than it was 20 years ago,” he said.

Michael Klein, chief operating officer and fund manager for Partners Capital Solutions, Inc., who is based in Southern California, said, “I’m always amazed that there are more and more reasons why California is less and less business friendly than Arizona.”

Summing it up, moderator Palmier said, “Phoenix is an exciting place. The demographics are fascinating. As a lender, it’s a place we want to be.”