07/23/2012 | by
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Continued Confidence in Multifamily Sector Spurs Development
Positive fundamentals in the multifamily sector are expected to continue into the "foreseeable future," according to Tom Lowder, chairman and CEO of Colonial Properties Trust (NYSE: CLP).

"This is one of the best cycles I have seen in the multifamily business. I can't recall in the last 40 years a time where things have come together like they have in the environment we are in now," he told REIT.com in a video interview at REITWeek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum.

Lowder said there are a number of signs in the market to indicate continued healthy fundamentals and robust growth. In addition to increased traffic at all of its properties, he said Colonial Properties has been able to raise rents in its properties for both new and current residents.

"Our delinquency rates have been less than 1 percent consistently giving us the idea that our residents are fully employed and doing well in that that they are able to pay on time and handle the increase," he said.

When it comes to new development, Lowder said the company is taking advantage of positive fundamentals and has about 1,500 new units underway which represents a 5 percent increase in Colonial's total portfolio of more than 30,000 units.

Those locations with new Colonial Properties construction sites are located in four markets including Tampa, Orlando, Austin and Charlotte. Lowder calls them "good growth markets for us where we have seen some job growth."

He added that the company is also building on sites that have been in its balances sheets for "awhile" and since the last recession.

"We have another six sites that we can develop on our balance sheets for another 1,500 units,"," Lowder pointed out. "Those are our plans and we think that's a good pace if we continue to see the pace of rental rate and occupancy growth we have to date."