Los Angeles-based Mountain Pacific Opportunity Partners is bullish on multifamily investment in both the near- and long-term. Despite the current market dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the apartment sector still has attractive fundamentals, like a supply shortage and rising development cost, both of which are unchanged by the pandemic. In addition, job loss and low wage growth will create more demand for rental product.
“Multifamily provides attractive, risk-adjusted returns with relatively low volatility,” Joan Kramer, a partner at Mountain Pacific Opportunity Partners, tells GlobeSt.com. “Our business focuses on markets in which we believe have historically been undersupplied as well as locations that are on the border of areas that have already improved in which our site is in the direction of growth.”
Wide scale unemployment, however, will be a significant challenge for multifamily investors. Certainly, rents will be impacted, and migration patterns could shift as renters look for jobs in new, more affordable markets. However, Kramer expects minimal negative impacts in emerging markets. “Because we look to markets that have been historically undersupplied, we think that these markets will rebound ahead of the general economy,” she says. “For Mountain Pacific, the transaction has to work, regardless of whether it is an opportunity zone project/location, and then we add the economics of opportunity zones on top of that.”
Opportunity zone projects are a different story. Mountain Pacific has been active in the opportunity zone space, but the pandemic has made those investments more challenging. However, while rents have dropped, so have construction costs. “We continually look at all aspects of our projects, including rents/expenses and development costs,” says Kramer. “We are finding that some of our markets have softened in terms of rents, but we are also seeing 5-10% savings in construction costs.”
Looking ahead, Kramer anticipates renters will continue to migrate to more affordable markets, potentially at a faster pace. As a result, the firm is looking toward investment opportunities is alternative markets. “In many of our markets, home ownership has gotten out of reach for young professionals and singles and this demographic provides a strong renter base,” she says. “We think that this will continue following the crisis. As always, we will continue to look for solid underlying fundamentals that will situate our assets ahead of the curve.”