For the most part, apartment investors took the last months of 2008 off.
Buyers of apartment properties closed deals totaling just $4.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to data from Real Capital Analytics (RCA), a national research firm based in New York City.
That’s a fraction of the $27 billion in sales that closed in the fourth quarter of 2006. The volume of apartment transactions fell to $14.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, after the collapse of the conduit lending business, and activity nearly ground to a halt after a string of failures and government bailouts of large financial institutions this fall.
The average multifamily price-per-unit also fell to $87,000 in the fourth quarter. That’s down from a peak of $121,000 two years before, according to RCA. However, the drop largely represents a change in the types of properties bought and sold, rather than a collapse in prices relative to rents earned at the properties. Capitalization rates, which rise as prices drop, averaged 6.81 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 6.11 percent two years before. Cap rates express the operating income from a property as a percentage of the sale price.
Despite the financial crisis, loan applicants with strong projects can still get attractive rates. Interest rates for seven- to 10-year loans for closed sales of apartment properties averaged 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter, according to RCA. That’s an increase from 5.77 percent two years ago, when conduit lenders still made deals. But it’s still a lower rate than 6.27 percent the year before, before the benchmark yield on 10-year Treasury bonds, the basis for many long-term interest rates, dropped as low as nearly 2 percent from nearly 4 percent for much of 2008.