Turbulent Housing Market: Implications for Multifamily Investments

Eric Wilson


March 20, 2023

7 min read

Eric Wilson


March 20, 2023

5 min read

In the dynamic landscape of the U.S. housing market, we're experiencing notable shifts that are of significant importance to the multifamily sector. With 30-year mortgage rates cresting between 6.5% and 7%—a high unseen in over two decades—single-family home transaction volumes and values have descended notably from their mid-2022, post-COVID peak.

Pertinent Market Trends

The entry-level housing market and the North and West regions have experienced the most pronounced declines, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Alarmingly, existing home sales have sunk by 0.7%, marking the 12th month of consecutive decline—a record that has been untouched since 1999.

Yet, amidst this seemingly dreary market environment, there are glimmers of hope. According to NAR's data on pending home sales, a reliable predictor of future home sales trends, January saw the second month of growth in succession.

Source: Freddie Mac via St. Louis Federal Reserve

Innovative Strategies by Homebuilders

To counteract these market challenges, homebuilders are implementing ingenious strategies to rekindle buyers' interest. The practice of "buying down" buyers' mortgage rates is one such innovative approach, as reported by 75% of builders in a John Burns Consulting survey.

While these measures might echo the adjustable-rate mortgages of the Great Financial Crisis, current stringent standards ensure that borrowers can handle payments even under the fully adjusted rate. The outcome of such measures could potentially be a decrease in mortgage rates in the coming years, enabling homeowners to switch to lower fixed-rate mortgages.

Impact on the Multifamily Sector

The success of these strategies is evident in the dwindling home inventories, especially in the Sunbelt and Mountain regions, inducing homebuilders to reconsider their production plans.

If such trends persist, we forecast a potential decrease in opportunities for investors to convert existing homebuilder inventories to build-for-rent (BFR) units, possible inflation of multifamily project materials, and sustained pressure on multifamily rental rates.

Despite short-term challenges, the underlying strength of a robust housing market remains crucial to a healthy U.S. economy.

Mastering the Margins: The Challenge in Multifamily Operations

With the multifamily sector facing hurdles such as rising inflation and negative rent growth, it's paramount to proactively manage expenses while augmenting resident retention.

Innovative Solutions for Challenges

For instance, rising insurance costs necessitate a strategic approach, involving portfolio-based negotiations with insurance brokers. Emphasis is also on resident retention, and technology plays a crucial role here. The use of AI platforms to detect and resolve resident concerns can significantly boost customer satisfaction and retention.

The increase in utility costs calls for smarter energy management. The use of smart home devices and submeters has proven effective in controlling and monitoring energy consumption.

Tech Forward Operations and Maintenance

The cost of administrative operations and maintenance in multifamily properties is also on the rise. Modern residents demand more tech-forward solutions, necessitating innovations such as leasing bots, self-guided tours, and property apps.

Efficient Payroll Management

Payroll costs have seen a steady increase over the past decade. Efficient management of this expense necessitates competitive offers to retain employees and effective timecard management. Mobile-friendly service request platforms can streamline operations, thereby freeing up the leasing and maintenance teams to focus more on the customer experience.

In the current economic climate, multifamily operators need to embrace a systematic approach to implement and test technology that can enhance service quality and trim costs. With the pressure of rising expenses in almost every facet of asset management, strategic application of technology is undoubtedly the way forward.


In conclusion, the multifamily sector is undergoing a period of unprecedented change due to shifts in the wider housing market. A confluence of factors, such as rising mortgage rates and changes in homebuyer behavior, is reshaping investment strategies and operational methodologies. Multifamily operators must navigate this complex landscape through creative, tech-forward approaches.