Still Ahead Of Most Other National Markets

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We expect 2009 to continue to be a tough year for commercial/investment real estate, but multifamily is certainly the preferred product type for institutional and private investors delivering stable, solid returns, particularly in the supply-constrained New England markets. Transaction velocity was actually fairly strong through EOY 2008 although cap rates and IRR have increased by 100 to 150-plus basis points from a year ago, and currently we are pricing properties using cash-on-cash returns based on true, twelve month trailing operating data. Fortunately, the greatest demand from institutional investors is for well-constructed Class “B+” to “A” properties in the region. While we don’t have the problem of shadow inventory that we do in Florida, Arizona and other markets, we have noticed an increase in vacancy for Class A and B properties in the region. Occupancy in a number of properties we analyze for our monthly same-store rent comp survey has dipped, but we’re still ahead of most other national markets. We are generally seeing an increase in vacancy in New Haven, Fairfield, Middlesex, New London and Hartford County properties from 100 to 400 basis points but we expect strengthening later this year.

After 30-plus years in this business, my honest opinion is that if an owner is contemplating a sale in the foreseeable future (within 2 to 4 years), there could be no better time to sell as we only expect yield criterion to continue trending up.

— Steve Witten is vice president investments, senior director with the National Multi Housing Group at Marcus & Millichap.

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