Multifamily Housing – Insights on an Evolving Market

The need or multifamily housing is continuing to grow throughout our region, partially due to  the  increasing  median age of first-time home buyers, which is now 33 years of age (the oldest age since this statistic has been watched.) Demand is also being driven by empty nesters who want to downsize in their later years*. There is a wide range of multifamily hous­ing types available to suit the varying needs of consumers.

Types of Apartment Communities:

  • Affordable housing – units for those that meet certain income qualifications providing standard amenities
  • Market rate housing – standard unit s offering a wide range of luxury amenities that cater to a diverse resident population
  • Supportive Housing – helping the home lessor those that have disabilities transition into emergency or permanent housing
  • Workforce housing – these units are for a moderate level income and are located in close proximity to jobs and public transportation

Most of these apartment types can be found for senior/active living communities as well:

  • Affordable housing
  • Supportive Housing
  • Market rate housing

A current trend that we are seeing is an especially high demand for Affordable Housing. Most projects have waiting lists prior to any units being available for occupancy, and these lists contain many more people than the number of units that will be available. This housing is predominately for those individuals that earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) which varies by location. This group often includes lower wage workers, medium income families, and people that live on fixed incomes such as seniors and people living with disabilities.

Affordable housing projects require a certain proximity to support services, neighborhood amenities, and public trans­portation. As land becomes increasingly scarce, economical sites are harder to find, land use becomes more prescribed, and site work costs increase due to existing challenges which made these sites less desirable. Most projects utilize Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and additional funding sources to help offset some of these costs. The groups that provide these tax credits update their design standards on an annual basis; our team stays abreast of the changes as they are released to ensure that projects meet these requirements. These standards have to be incorporated along wit h local building codes, Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

We tailor our design approach for affordable housing projects to meet the specific challenges of this market. Because these pro jects are typically held long term, clients are highly concerned with  maintenance  and the durability of materials, affecting selections such as paint, floorcovering, hardware and countertop ma­terials. We also take into consideration the length of manufacturers’ warranties on bot h interior and exterior materials, including shingles, furniture, and siding ma­terial. In terms of design, we try to incorporate as many efficiencies into the production of  the  overall  project as possible. One way of doing this is to minimize the number of different unit types in order to increase the project ‘s potential. Because residents vary in stages of  life and family circumstance, we provide a variety of unit sizes to suit those different tenants’ needs. We also utilize consistent components of kitchen and bath layouts in units across the project to create economies of scale and overall design efficiencies. Doing this allows certain cabinets, for example, to be ordered in larger quantities by reducing the number of variations in configurations and sizing.

Early collaboration efforts with consult ants and contractors to keep budget and constructability at the forefront make our team stand out. Lessons learned are shared across the firm so that details and standards are refined for best practices, resulting in better end results for future projects. We pride ourselves on the fact t hat both clients and general contractors have often commented on our responsiveness and problem solving skills, which help keep the projects on track through ­ out the design and construction process. Our expertise with this project type contributes to our many longstanding clients and help s cultivate new client relationships through recommendations.

As active members of our communities, we recognize the need and importance of providing housing that is attainable to a variety income levels. We value our role in helping to create these communities for our neighbors, and in providing places for all to call home.

*Pickert, Reade. Young Homebuyers Are Vanishing From the US”
Bloomberg, 1108-2019

ABOUT KRISTA

Krista is a principal of the firm with 24 years of experience, handles operations from the day-to-day processes and procedures, production oversight and planning, and IT coordination, as well as ensuring project quality and employee performance are maintained. During her career, she has developed her proficiency in design and construction administration of numerous multifamily, municipal, commercial, higher education, and mixed-use projects.

kkarlson@sganwdesign.com

ABOUT SARAH

Sarah, an interior designer, brings over 9 years of experience as a detail-oriented and driven professional with a wide variety of experience in all aspects of design, construction, and project management. She also holds a Masters of Science in Interior Architecture and Historic Preservation.

smarion@sganwdesign.com