With stagnant wages, growing debt, and minimal savings, it has become harder and harder to buy a house. Instead, many families are opting to rent single family houses. The best of both worlds; the horizontal multifamily detached (HMFD) is a new asset class that has become a rising phenomenon. What is HMFD and will the trend last?
Horizontal multifamily detached developments are single family homes for rent on a single lot — as part of a community, they have some of the benefits of traditional multifamily buildings such as on-site property management. It has been rising in popularity since before the pandemic, but was accelerated by COVID. It offers those that don't want to live in traditional vertical apartments their own space without having to buy a house.
Like traditional multifamily communities, each HMFD community is different and has its own appeal. For some horizontal communities, tenants have access to the amenities they want, but none of the amenities they don't (or vice versa). Others offer no common amenities.
Because of COVID, the lack of common amenities can be both positive and negative.
For safety reasons, many tenants did not want to go the traditional route of living in high-rise buildings due to space — they did not want to be stacked on top of each other in apartments. The detached style of HMFD allows renters/tenants to safely distance themselves and obtain more privacy.
While there are no shared walls or ceiling/floors, there are also no amenities that some may rely on while working from home. Tenants have to allocate space in their own homes to use as an office and get their own printers and Wi-Fi and other amenities that may be offered in other communities.
Those interested in HMFD structures also typically do not want to buy a house and a lot of that reasoning can be attributed to price.
COVID has affected many behaviors and migration patterns are no different. Since many workers were no longer tied to the city, they flocked to lower cost-of-living areas such as the suburbs. Many others left the city simply to get away from the density that was once desired. Regardless of the reason, the fast increase in demographic demand in some areas has been unable to keep pace with housing production, resulting in higher housing prices.
In some places, housing prices have risen to new all time highs and that kind of housing marketing just isn't attractive.
The HMFD structure isn't just popular with potential tenants, it's also popular with investors. Investors have previously shown an interest in the new asset class and demand has only increased.
While zoning laws are more strict and difficult for horizontal multifamily detached housing than regular single family homes, it is easier to gain zoning rights for HMFD than for traditional multifamily rentals such as apartment complexes.
However, due to the sheer nature of the structure of horizontal multifamily, it requires a lot of land which can be costly as the owners have to offset their cost of land with the price of rent. The scarcity of land also limits the amount of places that HMFD structures can be built. This could become an issue if people have to relocate closer to the city (again) for work or other reasons post-pandemic as the available lots are likely to be farther away from the city.
While the rise of the horizontal multifamily was clearly exaggerated by COVID, we still found it interesting to see how external shocks have affected trends within the industry.
We are excited to see what other trends emerge and if this one will last.
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