In an online poll conducted by NAHB in recent days, 90 percent of multifamily developers said the coronavirus has had an adverse effect on how long it takes to obtain a plan review for a typical multifamily building, and 88 percent said it has had an adverse effect on timely collection of rent payments. The poll collected 49 responses from members of NAHB’s Multifamily Council, NAHB’s Affordable Housing Group, and NAHB’s Multifamily Leadership Board between April 3 and April 9.
The poll listed nine aspects of a multifamily developer’s business and asked if the coronavirus has so far had a major, minor, or no adverse effect on each. After plan review and rent collection, the most widespread problems were supply of n95 respirator face masks (cited as a virus-induced problem by 86 percent of multifamily developers), traffic of prospective buyers/renters (85 percent), and costs related to renters’ health and safety (82 percent). The items most often characterized as subject to a major, rather than minor, virus-induced effect were face masks and traffic.
Of the nine items listed in the poll, how long it takes the multifamily building department to respond to a request for an inspection, supply of building products and materials, and willingness of workers and subs to report to a construction site were the least common, but even these were cited as virus-induced problems by well over 60 percent of the developers. These same three items have been among the least common of the listed problems (but nevertheless cited by over 60 percent of respondents) in NAHB’s general poll of the residential construction industry.
In contrast, the two polls show that obtaining a plan review has become even more of an issue for a multifamily project. Rent collection, of course, is an issue largely specific to the multifamily sector.
For more detail on rent collection, NAHB’s multifamily poll included a question on the percentage of tenants who missed their last payments. In response, 96 percent of multifamily developers reported that some portion of their tenants missed their last rent payment. The most common response (from 39 percent of developers) was that between 1 and 10 percent of tenants missed their last payment, but 18 percent said the missed-rent share was over 30 percent. On average, 18 percent of tenants missed their last payment.
The average missed-rent share was higher (24 percent) among respondents who are members of NAHB’s Affordable Housing Group (developers who specialize in building tax credit and other forms of affordable housing), indicating that rent collection has become somewhat more of a problem in that segment of the industry.