WNC tax-credit fund ready to create, buy affordable housing

Costa Mesa, Calif.-based WNC & Associates Inc. has closed a $33.8 million tax-credit fund to finance the building of more than 380 affordable housing units in New York and New Jersey. The fund is the company's 57th tax-credit fund. WNC will partner with local developers to build three new developments: one in Elizabeth, N.J.; one in South Plainfield, N.J.; and one in New York. The fund will also be used to acquire and renovate six existing properties in the following locations: Bayonne, N.J.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Jersey City, N.J.; and in New York.

Multifamily sector, investors make a good match Institutional investors looking to strengthen their portfolios may find just what they are looking for in apartment properties. That's one of the conclusions of a recent study of multifamily investments by Richard Gold and Lijian Chen of Atlanta-based Lend Lease Real Estate Investments. The study is entitled, "Multifamily Markets: 2000 and Beyond."

"Increasingly, investors have come to realize that without significant multifamily holdings, they are unlikely to receive the optimal risk/reward they are seeking," write Gold, a principal of Lend Lease, and Chen, a vice president.

There are numerous reasons for optimism when it comes to multifamily investments, says the study. First of all, supply and demand in the national apartment market are expected to remain in balance.

Also, the demand for rental units will continue, even though homeownership rates are rising. That's due in part to the offspring of baby boomers entering the workforce, says the study.

Another factor to consider is that apartments could likely better withstand an economic slowdown than other property types. "Everyone needs a place to live regardless of economic conditions," write Gold and Chen. "Barring excessive overbuilding, this results in relatively stable apartment occupancy throughout an economic cycle."

The authors also point to some illuminating statistics to back up their claim that the multifamily sector can make for sound investments. Referring to the Chicago-based National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries' (NCREIF) Property Index, the study notes that "the apartment sector has delivered double-digit total returns six years in a row. Over the past 15 years, the sector has generated the highest average annual total return (8.9%) while showing the least volatility of all property types."

In the course of approximately 40 pages, the authors present the reader with waves of statistics, charts and other information. This column presents merely a fraction of the information in the study.

Gold and Chen close their study by noting that "when all is said and done, investing remains a risky business and multifamily investing is no exception." However, they write, multifamily investments have a history of stable performance and have therefore "earned a role as a core asset in a mixed-asset portfolio."

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