The Rise of Luxury Apartments: A Flight-to-Quality Trend
by: Will Lin
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the real estate market, with demand decreasing in the hospitality industry and among many others. However, in the luxury apartments sector, many tenants elected to hop on the trend of paying more for less and valuing quality over quantity; as a result, the demand for luxury apartments has increased significantly. According to JLL, overall leasing volume in luxury property types has increased 24% over 2021 activity and a record number of leases have been signed (1). This activity illustrates the resiliency and relevancy of luxury properties within the real estate market which proves to be valuable information for investors and developers who would like to capitalize on this market.
One of the major driving factors for the increase in demand for the luxury apartment sector is the increased growth of the U.S. population. In 2022, the U.S. Census data revealed that there was a 0.4% increase, or 1,256,003, to 333,287,557 in the U.S. resident population as well as an influx of 1,010,923 immigrating to the U.S. (2). With the continued population growth, the demand for housing will continue to increase and that proves to be true, especially in the luxury apartments sector. Furthermore, Mike Cobb Jr, director of analytics at the CoStar Group states that the increasing costs of construction and materials make it challenging to construct profitable multifamily properties of lower quality rather than higher quality (3). Not only are developers and investors flocking towards the high-end and profitable luxury apartment market, but consumers are also gravitating towards these properties that boast premium features and access to luxury amenities. This flight-to-quality trend is especially prevalent among young affluent professionals who are looking for places to live that provide access to a variety of high-end amenities within a short walking distance.
With the current economic conditions it is essential to take into account the impact of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases and how this can influence the luxury apartments market. At first glance, rising interest rates can pose a potential threat to investors of luxury apartments as they need to pull out money from their portfolios to purchase these types of real estate (4); however, higher interest rates can deter buyers from taking out mortgages to purchase homes which can drive up rental prices and potentially lead to higher profits for luxury apartment owners and investors. For example, JLL reveals in their 2022 end-of-year recap that tenants have signed a historic number of leases for premium rental spaces in Manhattan, with 190 leases starting at $100 or more per square foot and covering a total of 6.1 million square feet. This leasing volume is twice as much as the previous record set in 2021, which was three million square feet for premium rentals.
The flight-to-quality in the multifamily apartment sector is a trend that is continuing to grow in the post-COVID world. Here at Lever Capital Partners, we pride ourselves on our ability to finance all types of multifamily deals including your next luxury apartment project. Our expertise in financing luxury apartment projects in various stages is diverse and extensive and we are able to get you the most accretive financing options catered specifically to your strategy and business plan. We believe that understanding the availability of different capital structures is the foundation for curating the most efficient capital stack for our client’s projects. Our ability to promptly evaluate creative alternatives allows us to direct any project towards the most optimal capitalization structure given the current market conditions and our client’s strategy and goals.