(Read more on the multifamily market.)

LOS ANGELES-Now that the residue from the housing bubble has settled upon the single-family home industry, experts and residents alike have turned to the multifamily industry to see what options are left.

One of the biggest guarantees that came out of the RealShare Apartments 2007 conference, which was held Oct. 11 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, was that there were no guarantees anymore when it came to housing.

Nowhere were these sentiments more evident than in the keynote address, which was delivered by Angelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp.

“It was virtually impossible to see a bubble forming and even more impossible to predict its timing,” explained Mozilo, who was introduced by Real Estate Media’s group publisher and editorial director Michael Desiato. “[And] there was unsuspected shock in the credit markets. It happened virtually overnight and reciprocally migrated from shock to panic.”

Mozilo, who referred to the credit crunch of August 2007 as this industry’s version of 9/11, conceded that, as the bubble filled, Countrywide did become increasingly wary. “In retrospect, the classic signs of a bubble [were there],” he said before a crowd of more than 1,100. “It’s important to note that none of the vocal critics of the day expressed any concern about the bubble until it burst.”

In the bubble’s wake the single-family housing industry is facing overbuilding and shadow vacancies, while many homeowners are dealing with foreclosures and relocations. With few benefiting from this market, all eyes are on the multifamily market. Though it may seem logical that the single-family market’s pain would be the multifamily market’s pleasure, that’s not entirely true across the board, according to panelists who addressed the impact that the shaky housing market and economy has had on the apartment market.

“The single-family market going into a semi-meltdown created additional renters, but apartments don’t necessarily get those households,” said Greg Willet, vice president of research and analysis for M/PF YieldStar. “We still lost people to single-family rentals. But what was different was that we didn’t lose anyone to single-family buyers.”

Willet did note that rental growth is still going up, even though the apartment industry is a bit behind where it was a year ago.

Even with new renters emerging there are still multifamily products that are not doing well. Willet considered high-end properties to be one of the biggest risks today.

“Investors concentrate a lot on really high-end communities in urban cores,” he said. “I don’t know how deep that pool is. At some point we’re going to hit the wall.”

Though many high-end, class A Southland properties aren’t faring as well as initially expected, Harvey Green, president and CEO of Marcus & Millichap and a participant in the “Fact or Fiction” face-off, noted that B and C properties are performing nicely.

“Strong B apartments aren’t retrading,” he noted. “There is some retrading in the C market. In the B and C [properties] it’s still a very good time to buy. There is good supply in terms of the demand.”

Green cautioned, however, that many were not retrading throughout the second quarter of this year. Green’s counterpart, Al Brooks, president of Washington Mutual’s commercial group, also offered up an investor warning.

“Be careful with outlying areas–even though it might be a pretty building in a place like Lancaster or Palmdale–if there’s not a lot of differential between the mortgage and the rent,” he said.

Though the single- and multifamily housing markets were often met with uncertainty throughout the day, a panel addressing how one can still get deals done in a suddenly turbulent debt and equity capital market offered up some hope.

This panel forecasted that: cash buyers, especially those who can invest along the coast where a strong local economy will help the housing debacle, should do well in the future; insurance companies will still actively seek out good product; many condo conversions are and will continue returning to rental products; and, if anyone has a chance at a non-recourse loan, it will be for a multifamily project.

Apartments 2007, along with other RealShare events nationwide, is produced by Real Estate Media, publishers of GlobeSt.com, Real Estate Southern California, Real Estate Forum and other print and online publications devoted to commercial real estate.

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