280-320 East Main St. in Rockaway — Courtesy: Gebroe-Hammer Associates
By Joshua Burd
Gebroe-Hammer Associates is off to a strong start in 2021, touting the sale of more than 4,000 apartments in the first quarter with a combined value of nearly $500 million.
The Livingston-based brokerage firm said it arranged 29 transactions from January through March, representing private equity funds, institutional investors, family offices and private individuals with local, regional, national and global interests. The deals encompassed 4,041 units, stretching from northern New Jersey to suburban Philadelphia.
“Multifamily properties have established they are on firm footing during this COVID economic recovery, with all arrows pointing to 2021 as the year of strong occupancies and positive rent gains,” said Ken Uranowitz, Gebroe-Hammer’s president. “Both of these conditions cast multifamily investments in an extremely favorable light, paving the way for considerable rent and property-value appreciation over the long term.”
The firm touted the activity on Tuesday, highlighting deals such as 10 individual property sales across four urban municipalities in eastern Essex County. The transactions also include two North Jersey trades totaling $12.65 million, three closings in Central Jersey involving 98 units and 12 separate South Jersey deals, among others.
The deals totaled $490 million in value.
“Investor demand has been sustained in the COVID-19 economy as compared to previous recessions,” Uranowitz said. “While investors and financial institutions may have waited for some clarity at the onset and height of the pandemic in 2020, certain economies — North and Central Jersey for example — continued to outperform other metros nationwide. Greater clarity yields heightened confidence and resulting closing activity.”
According to the firm, occupancy rates have stabilized and investors have stayed active in submarkets with short to moderate commute times to major cities. Gebroe-Hammer also cited flexible work schedules and telecommuting as a boost for tenant demand.
“The boundary for what was once considered a maximum commute time (and) distance from one’s workplace has been blurred,” said David Oropeza, an executive managing director with the firm. “We’re also seeing the gradual return of Gen Z’ers, who are dipping back into the urban-apartment tenant pool after returning home to their families. When COVID hit, they wanted to be close to loved ones and a safety net. With confidence up, this cohort is eager to get back to their own lifestyle and abandon that of their parents.”
Gebroe-Hammer’s market specialists also pointed to investor demand for newer multifamily properties, value-add assets and workforce housing.
“The wide delta between multifamily investment demand and for-sale product availability remains prevalent, much like early last year and the months before that,” Executive Managing Director Joseph Brecher said. “Projections indicate 2022 will mark a return to pre-pandemic multifamily fundamentals, notwithstanding the uncertainties surrounding future tax legislation and/or interest rates.”