The imminent failure of both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has already begun to have a detrimental impact on the larger US economy and the ability of home buyers to finance the purchase of a new home.
This is an unfortunate circumstance for many young families who may not be able to qualify for a mortgage to purchase their new home because of tighter bank underwriting guidelines. While this is a negative situation for young families looking for their own homes it could be a potential wind fall for the owners and operators of apartment building complexes across the United States. All of the people displaced by the housing bubble along with new populations of young people looking for housing will have to turn to rental properties for housing. The fact that more and more residential, single family homes are entering into foreclosure should also further diminish the available supply of rental units on the market.
When a home is in foreclosure or bank owned it can’t be rented and it sits as an empty, unavailable property. For example, on the residential street where I live in Fort Lauderdale there are 3 or 4 houses on one block that appear to be completely abandoned and in some stage of foreclosure or bank ownership. No one can rent these homes because they are bank owned and waiting for a buyer. Meanwhile the prices of homes in the neighborhood are still priced well above the ability for most working families to afford, especially considering the difficulty many are experiencing when searching for an affordable mortgage.
The obvious choice for many young families and those displaced from their homes because of foreclosure is to find a rental property to live in while saving money for the future purchase of a single family home. With the expected decline in available rental homes available on the market due to bank ownership many families and young people will be looking to apartment buildings for housing. This increase in the number of potential renters comes just at a time when the construction of multi-family buildings has begun to decline.
The decline in the construction of new apartment buildings is due to the fact that many banks and real estate financiers are cutting back on new construction projects nationwide. They are unwilling to take the risk of funding new construction during a time when residential real estate prices are dropping rapidly. According to the Associated Press, the “Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index tumbled a record 15.4 percent during the quarter from the same period a year ago.”
It remains to be seen what impact the decline in availability of rental properties will have on the rental rates for major metropolitan areas.