Blog July 30, 2020

Affordable, public, and multifamily housing trends in June

By Brian Zrimsek

June data from the MRI Software Market Insights report indicates that the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt across the multifamily market. While traffic for the conventional multifamily housing industry is on the rebound, the affordable and public housing industries are lagging behind 2019’s numbers on a much broader scale.

MRI’s report from May showed promising trends for all three sectors, despite the fact that affordable and public housing were recovering at a slower pace. However, in June, the data tells a different story – the only unified attribute among these three is divergence. Traditional multifamily housing appears to continue its steady rebound, but affordable and public housing are lagging behind 2019’s pace in two different ways. They’re diverting away from each other and from the conventional market.

While the Market Insights team has been tracking the impact of this pandemic on housing statistics such as lease terms, pricing, and move-ins since February, several of MRI’s partners shared their own data in a recent webinar. These unique perspectives give us a better look at what happened in the affordable, public, and conventional multifamily housing markets throughout the month of June.

Inspections

MRI’s partner in the residential property operations management business, Happy Co., took a close look at data surrounding residential inspections in the first half of 2019 compared to the first half of 2020.

As seen above, move-in/move-out inspections only dropped by about 8.4% from 2019 to 2020. This data generally lines up with MRI’s own findings that work orders across the multifamily market have dropped, but are currently on their way back up. The story changes, however, when it comes to preventative maintenance inspections, which have seen a 26.6% drop. This also seems to line up with the drop in work order requests referenced in MRI’s report on the affordable and public housing markets.

Customer service calls

MRI partner Conservice, a leading utility billings company in the multifamily market, presented data that shows an unprecedented drop in customer service call volumes between 2019 and 2020.

This statistic ties back not only to the drop in preventative maintenance illustrated by Happy Co., but also to MRI’s own data about the lack of move-ins and move-outs throughout the month of June.

Debt collection trends

Data from Fair Collections & Outsourcing Inc. (FCO) shows that throughout the first half of 2020, managers have been mostly holding rental debt and not placing new debt. This is because managers are, in large part, working with payment plans and other accommodations. In spite of this, FCO says that debts held by residents are still being repaid, which might mean that consumers who received financial relief from the CARES Act are paying off old or current obligations.

How should operators and other property managers respond to this information? According to FCO, proactively managing resident payment plans and communicating with residents will be crucial, as will responding to debtor disputes with proper documentation.

With affordable, public, and conventional multifamily housing markets all moving in different directions, what will it take to adequately respond to the challenges that property owners and managers will face in the coming weeks? In a survey conducted by AvidXchange, they found that out of the 500 finance executives surveyed, three out of four respondents indicated that their organizations had implemented at least one new technology or system in the wake of COVID-19. This also lines up with an approach that Happy Co. has taken, developing two entirely new solutions to help housing markets mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

In a market where the only certainty is uncertainty, leveraging technology solutions to face unique challenges is shaping up to be one of the best ways to mitigate risk. To learn more, watch the full webinar based on the MRI Market Insights Report from June.

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