01/04/2012 | by
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Benefits Continue to Accrue for Luxury Apartments
Apartment fundamentals are strong but the office sector faces the toughest headwinds, according to Hans Nordby, managing director with PPR, a CoStar company.

In a video interview with REIT.com at REITWorld 2011: NAREIT's Annual Convention For All Things REIT in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole hotel last month, Nordby discussed opportunities and challenges within the various REIT sectors.

Apartment REITs have enjoyed lower vacancy rates, having gone from about 8.3 percent at the end of 2009 to approximately 6.5 percent today, Nordby said.

"They've already seen the decrease in vacancy rates. This is when you get the honest to goodness rent growth. We expect a lot of the benefits to continue to accrue for class A apartments, which is where REITs tend to play," he said.

He added that the increase in jobs within the past year has benefited the better educated, higher income population who often rent in class A apartment buildings.

"There is less of an interest in buying that condo as a means of getting rich, a lot less this year than in the past," Nordby said.

The class B and C apartments will do better when housing growth comes back in about two more years, according to Nordby. He said a big part of that population of renters tend to be construction workers or people who don't make as much money.

He also likes the warehouse sector. Nordby said that warehouse is a sure thing when it comes to GDP growth. Nordby said the correlation between occupied warehouse space and GDP growth is .9 percent.

However, the office sector is currently facing the toughest challenges, according to Nordby.

"Office has it tough, and it really boils down to one thing," he said. "Apartments average a one year lease term that's over pretty fast, now that hurts in 2009 when the market goes down, but with the office sector in 2009, the NOI felt pretty good. But the flipside is that you don't get the benefits of recovery either."