HUD and the Census Bureau Examine Rental Housing Finance Trends
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HUD and the Census Bureau Examine Rental Housing Finance Trends

March 15, 2013

Approximately 20 percent of American households live in multi-family rental buildings, yet until today little was known about how these larger rental properties are financed. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau has released the new 2012 Rental Housing Finance Survey, which provides a more complete picture of the nation’s multi-family rental properties, including data on property values, how their mortgages are financed, and characteristics of the structures.
“Given that one-in-four families rent apartments in these multifamily properties, it’s critically important we broaden our understanding of how these developments are bought and paid for,” said Erika Poethig, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. “The Rental Housing Finance Survey fills an important gap in our understanding of who owns multifamily rental housing—mostly individuals, not large companies—and how multifamily rental housing is financed, especially as the structure of finance is changing. In light of recent changes in the availability of capital for rental housing, the Rental Housing Finance Survey also provides important insight about the financial health and stability of multifamily housing properties.”
This new survey builds on previously known information and collects data on property values of residential structures, characteristics of residential structures, rental status and rental value of units within the residential structures, commercial use of space within residential structures, property management status, ownership status, a detailed assessment of mortgage financing, and benefits received from Federal, state, local, and non-governmental programs.
HUD recognized that there was a gap in knowledge about who owns multifamily rental housing, how it is financed, and the financial health of the housing. The nation’s recent housing crisis underscores the need to understand the financing that supports this important segment of the rental housing market, including the performance of the mortgages that support the housing in which one-in-five American families live.
With these data, HUD can gain a better understanding of multifamily rental loan origination volumes, property characteristics associated with these originations, and operating cost and revenue characteristics for the multifamily rental properties in the United States. The survey will play an important role in enabling the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to fulfill its requirements to set affordable housing goals for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and to develop standards for underwriting multifamily mortgages. The data can be used to provide a statistically representative picture of multifamily financing and critical components of the national income accounts.
The 2012 Rental Housing Finance Survey was conducted in the winter and early spring of 2012 by the Census Bureau and includes information from detailed interviews of a nationally representative sample of 2,264 properties. Major findings from the Survey on multifamily rental properties include:
►There are 2.3 million such properties in the United States.
►73 percent are just one building, while four percent have 20 or more buildings on the property. In multifamily rental properties with 50 or more units, 45 percent have 20 or more buildings.
►77 percent provide parking.
►19 percent contain buildings built prior to 1920.
►67 percent are owned by households or individuals.
►70 percent are managed day-to-day by the owner or an unpaid agent such as a family member.
►54 percent of two to four unit multifamily rental properties have a mortgage compared to 85 percent of properties with over 50 units.
►73 percent were acquired by their owners prior to 2005.
► 87 percent of multifamily properties owners reported making repairs to their housing units; the median cost of repairs was $699 per housing unit in 2011.
►69 percent of all multifamily rental property owners reported making capital improvements to their properties in 2010 or 2011; then median cost of capital repairs was $1,167 per housing unit.
The survey provides a measure of financial, mortgage, and property characteristics of multifamily rental housing properties in the United States. The Survey also focuses on mortgage financing of multifamily rental housing properties, with emphasis on new purchase and refinancing transactions, and the characteristics of these new originations.
The rental apartment industry will be able to use the data to benchmark individual project performance against national data to help them make better business decisions. Multifamily rental housing is critical to solving the nation’s affordable housing problems, and potential investors in the multifamily rental housing market will gain a better understanding of the ownership and financing structures of the industry with these data.

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