The Truth About NYC Apartment REITs

A new report by Bloomberg Intelligence revealed a few surprises about REIT-owned apartments in New York.

By Keith Loria, Contributing Editor

Jeff Langbaum
Jeff Langbaum, Bloomberg Intelligence

A new report by Bloomberg Intelligence revealed that REIT-owned apartments in New York rent for considerably more than privately owned buildings.

According to the research, rents have climbed 6.4 percent this year, from the leasing sites of four REITs with a large residential presence in New York. The report showed that factors such as demand for housing within a short commuting distance and average purchase prices approaching $2 million, attributed to the growth.

“The REITs that report their market-based performance (AvalonBay, Equity Residential and UDR) have grown rental rates in their New York portfolios by an average of 3.9 percent year to date 2015 over 1H 2014,” Jeff Langbaum, Bloomberg Intelligence’s senior REIT/CRE equity analyst, told Commercial Property Executive. “Total revenues in New York in their portfolios grew by an average of 4.2 percent. Meanwhile, industry data from Reis shows rents went up 4.3 percent in New York from 2Q14 to 2Q15.”

The report shows that REIT-owned properties tend to be newer, better-located and more professionally run than the full sample size in a market, especially as diverse of a market like New York.

According to Langbaum, the major takeaways of the report were two-fold: 1) that REIT-owned assets in New York, albeit a small percentage of the whole, are asking for higher rents at their buildings than the broader market; and 2) Asking rents increased significantly as of mid-year (the peak leasing season) vs. the last time we did this study at the beginning of the year.

Based on current asking rents as of the date of the report, rents in REIT-owned buildings increased the most in Flatiron, Chelsea and Brooklyn. Hoboken was the weakest, where rents actually declined. When looking at REIT owned apartment by neighborhood, rents per square foot of available apartments in buildings are up 14.5 percent in Chelsea and 10.7 percent in Flatiron, while dropping 1.3 percent in Hoboken.

In New York’s Midtown West, the report shows renters will pay $416 more a month on average to rent a one bedroom than they would have just six months ago. An influx of tech jobs at companies such as Google and Twitter in Chelsea are drawing people to the neighborhood.

Looking ahead, Langbaum expects increases to continue in the months ahead.

“Based on comments made by REIT executives, demand remains strong throughout the New York market which means rents should continue to rise,” Langbaum added. “Neighborhoods including the Upper West Side and Brooklyn have been identified by REIT executives as facing potential supply pressure from new construction that could limit rent growth.”