AUSTIN–Dallas-based Stream Realty Partners has expanded its national platform to include the multifamily sector. As reported, Stream has hired Jeff Patterson to serve as senior vice president. Patterson will split his time between Austin and Southern California. caught up with Paterson to get a feel for what’s ahead for Stream and the new multifamily focus. Stream Realty just launched a multifamily arm – what was behind the decision to launch into this sector?

Patterson: Stream Realty has a number of clients that own properties in the multifamily space and have been asking for service in the sector. Because of this, the firm had been searching for the right opportunity to launch the business and, especially with the recent boom in multifamily development, recognized the time was now. In addition, Stream Realty found an opportunity to bring on an experienced, specialized multifamily team to immediately service new and existing clients. The team and I were attracted to Stream Realty’s entrepreneurial culture because not only does it empower talented people, but that spirit greatly drives the firm’s revenue and success. How will Stream expand into the multifamily market? 

Patterson: Stream Realty will expand into multifamily just as it has into other markets and product types.  We focus on recruiting talented individuals and providing a great work environment that encourages growth, which is evident in the way the company has expanded in recent years.  We see lots of opportunities in the multifamily sector and look forward to expanding our team, serving our clients and capitalizing on new opportunities. You’re tasked with building out multifamily teams nationwide – what cities will you focus on first? Why?

Patterson: We are focusing on the markets in which Stream Realty already operates with more progress being experienced in some markets over others.  For example, we already have a team in Austin and are seeing good momentum in Dallas and Houston. Where do you see Austin’s multifamily market today?

Patterson: Austin, like Texas in general, is adding jobs at an impressive rate and building lots of apartments to meet the growing demand.  Investor demand for Austin is as high as many major coastal cities, so cap rates are extremely low.  So far 2014 has lived up to the expectations for moderated rent growth as a significant new construction pipeline delivers. You’re splitting your time between SoCal and Austin – what are the differences/similarities you see between those markets?

Patterson: Other than the similar topography between west Austin and Orange County, they are probably more different than they are similar.  Austin is growing very rapidly, but still feels small compared even to Orange County.  Austin has a defined CBD with a vibrant downtown, while Orange County is a collection of 34 cities without a population or business center.  Orange County is as business friendly as California comes, but Austin is a different league as it relates to job growth.  Austin (Travis County) is liberal by Texas standards, while Orange County is much more conservative than most of coastal California.  Finally, a perfect spring afternoon in Austin is hard to beat but coastal Orange County pulls it off with impressive regularity.  Both markets have unique dynamics that present both opportunities and challenges to the apartment sector. What do you see as the major Austin multifamily trends of 2014?

Patterson: I think the most significant trend to watch is the absorption of new units, especially the urban product, and how effective rents and occupancy are impacted by the growing supply. How have you seen the multifamily sector change and develop over the years?

Patterson: The sector has absolutely changed. The current trend is away from suburban, garden apartments to high-density urban living.  The key words are micro units, walk score, community amenities, etc.  The percent of home ownership has trended downward, maybe for good, which has benefitted the multifamily sector in general.  There are plenty of interesting trends, like housing and caring for the aging population, providing affordable housing, and the intersection of technology and real estate that will influence how multifamily changes in the future.

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