Jillian Mariutti is director of debt and equity finance at Mission Capital Advisors.

The real estate development process is wrought with an array of potential landmines, and developers embarking on new projects always look for deals with enough upside to compensate for the inevitable snafus along the way. However, a reasonable expectation of upside only exists in a market where the rent-to-income ratio is not out of control.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, individuals and families who spend more than 30 percent of their total household income on housing are classified as “rent-burdened.” And while these metrics are of critical importance to housing advocates and local governments seeking to provide relief to a rent-burdened population, the same numbers are extremely relevant for real estate developers. In cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Tallahassee, Florida – each of which has distinct merits – the upside for multifamily developers is muted, as each market’s median gross rent surpasses 40 percent of the city’s household income. (All figures are based on Governing.com’s metrics, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau and 2010-2012 American Communities Survey Estimates).

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