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CHICAGO-It’s somewhat of surprise, though maybe not with every other commercial real estate market stagnant or going south, that most investors who answered the recent Jones Lang LaSalle 2009 Multifamily Forecast Survey said they plan to buy, buy, buy in the property category in the coming year. The results of the survey were unveiled at the RealShare Apartments 2008 conference by the locally-based JLL.

Almost 70% of respondents to the survey said they plan to increase their multifamily investment in 2009, while only 6% said they would decrease allocations. “I think it shows that though many in the market are reacting to psychological factors, they’re not afraid of apartments,” says Jeff Morris, a JLL managing director. “They believe value is going to be there in the future. I think that’s an optimistic sign for the market.”

More than 200 investors across the country answered the survey during the past three weeks, Morris says. He agrees that the apartment market, buoyed by foreclosures and hard-to-get home loans, has seen higher demand as of late. “But still, the national economy is shedding jobs, and jobs and apartment demand are fairly linked, so demand isn’t as high as it could be. However, the investors could choose to remain on the sidelines, but they instead choose to participate.”

Another common thread through the survey was the desire by most to invest into value-add properties in the Northeast and Southwest, sell core properties and hold in struggling areas such as the Midwest and Southeast. “Midwest has just had very slow growth, there’s so many better places to invest,” Morris tells GlobeSt.com. “Also, the Southeast problem is mostly Florida, the values down there have gotten hit. And of course the core property sales make sense anywhere, that’s the only thing that’s going to sell well in this market.”

Most respondents also said they think cap rates will increase, and rental rates will stay the same or decrease by 5%. “It’s typically very hard to push rents when demand is falling,” Morris says. “Also, in this economy, you’re seeing more roommates moving in together, whereas before they may have had separate apartments, lowering demand.” He admits that two of the best markets in this economy, seniors and student housing, are seeing a lot of development activity, but “it’s a much smaller piece of the overall rental stock, it’s not enough to move the needle.”

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