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WASHINGTON, April 26 - The multifamily housing sector is well positioned to
survive the current economic downturn, and the long-term outlook for the
industry is healthy, according to economists speaking at the National
Association of Home Builders' Semi-Annual Construction Forecast Conference
held here yesterday.

"Multifamily starts have been cruising at just the right altitude, staying
close to 300,000 units annually for the past four years," said Jack Goodman,
a nationally recognized real estate economist and principal of Hartrey
Advisors of Arlington, Va. "That's a very sustainable level for multifamily
starts -rents have shown healthy increases, vacancy rates have remained
low-and those two facts have made apartments the darling of the investment
community," he said. Goodman also was optimistic about the industry's long-term prospects, despite the current weakness in the economy.

"Consumer demand is likely to maintain moderate growth, and the supply of
financing is ample," he said, noting that the participation of Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac in the secondary mortgage market for multifamily provides
added safety for this sector of the market.

With the average age of the nation's apartment buildings now close to 35
years, rehabilitation opportunities should also be plentiful in the future,
Goodman said, particularly because much of the aging stock is located in
central cities. "Public policy in some jurisdictions is becoming much more
friendly toward urban development of multifamily housing and the clamor for
shorter commutes and smarter growth is accelerating," said Goodman.

"The suburban apartment product in a cornfield is going away," agreed
Kimberly Fiala, Senior Vice President of Market Research for JPI of Irvine,
Texas. She said JPI, one of the nation's largest luxury apartment developers
and a member of NAHB's Multifamily Executive Leadership Board, has primarily
been looking at infill sites, for both new development and rehabilitation

Fiala also noted that the characteristics of both apartments-and the people
who rent them-have changed over the past decade.

"Our typical apartment resident is 25- to 35-years-old, single, and earning
an average of $60,000 per year," she said. "They are looking for apartments
that are close to where they work or go to school and which offer spacious
floor plans and plenty of amenities." Apartments are getting bigger,
statistics show, with the average square footage up 8 percent during the

When asked whether apartment owners and developers should be concerned that
multifamily starts have yet to return to the highs seen in the mid-1980s,
when production averaged 650,000 units annually, Goodman said no. "Right
now, there are very few markets in the country that are overbuilt-if we do
get back to the production levels of the '80s, that's when we should start
to worry."

About NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based
trade association representing more than 203,000 member firms and
professionals involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily
construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance,
building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light
commercial construction. Known as "the voice of the housing industry," NAHB
is affiliated with more than 800 state and local home builders associations
around the country. NAHB's builder members will construct about 80 percent
of the more than 1.5 million new housing units projected for 2001. During a
typical year, residential construction accounts for about five cents of
every dollar spent in the U.S. economy, making home building one of the
largest and most influential industries in the country.

CONTACT: Laura Zaner

mailto:[email protected]> [email protected]
http://www.nahb.com/news/default.htm> http://www.nahb.com/news/default.htm

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