3 Key Topics From the 2022 NMHC Annual Meeting
The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) Annual Meeting returned to Orlando, FL in 2022, after being held in San Diego, CA last year. The event, which brings together many industry leaders for exclusive networking and in-depth sessions on the market and industry-relevant topics, took place from Jan. 15 through 18. The general sentiment seemed positive—reflecting strong performance of multifamily assets, high transaction volumes through 2021, and optimism for a good year ahead.
Of the many dynamic topics presented on-stage and overheard in the corridors during the 2022 NMHC Annual Meeting, three that merit special mention and industry consideration for the year ahead are:
Property amenities must adapt to renter preferences
Many of the shifts in renter preferences that property managers and owners have seen during the pandemic may persist even after the pandemic subsides. During a general session discussion, panelists agreed that remote work and work from home are here to stay. As a response, they are adapting their properties to accommodate their tenant workstyles. For some of the panelists, this means reconsidering layouts of shared amenities—shifting towards more, smaller work-oriented spaces instead of fewer, larger community-oriented spaces.
An additional area of focus for owners looking to upgrade their properties for the post-pandemic renter: technology. The panelists discussed how many properties may already incorporate technology within different property elements (e.g., property-wide WiFi, smart appliances, smart locks). There is still a significant opportunity for the renter experience and property management processes to be better connected via technology. The panelist making the point used the hotel industry as an example, pointing to the guest experience, which can largely be managed with or without human interaction and almost entirely from either computer or phone.
Rent control on the regulatory radar
Regulatory outlooks are guaranteed at multifamily conferences—especially when the host organization is an industry advocacy group. In addition to highlighting the ongoing advocacy work and recent wins, one topic that got much attention was state-level rent control. According to one presentation, despite only five states and the District of Columbia having current rent control regulations currently, 16 states introduced rent control legislation over the past year. While not all of this legislation is expected to make it into law, it likely means that the topic of rent control will be a focus for many owners and operators in the coming years as state and local officials debate and determine.
Institutional excitement builds for SFR & BTR
One of the hottest topics both on- and off-stage: single-family rentals (SFR) and build-to-rent (BTR). The sector may not have received the most attention during the conference, although the amount of attention it did receive was impressive, given the size of the market compared to more traditional multi-unit multifamily properties.
SFR and BTR were garnering so much attention because many of the large multifamily owners and operators are beginning to dip their toes into this rapidly growing industry. While the SFR concept of owning and renting multiple single-family homes is not new, institutions are now financing new ground-up developments specifically for the purpose of renting, BTR. Although few institutions moving into this space think it will replace more traditional multifamily properties, many are attracted to the return profile and demand drivers, which are often supported by generational demographics (i.e., Millennials and empty-nesting Baby Boomers).
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