The following was published in the Wichita Business Journal on October 24, 2014

Macroeconomics and Multifamily Housing

by Jason Van Sickle



Over the last several years, as the economy has struggled to find a solid footing, multifamily housing has continued to show long-term strength and stability. In recent commentary on their 2014 Multifamily Housing Outlook report, Freddie Mac’s Senior Director and Economist (Steven Guggenmos) explained, “In recent years multifamily market conditions and fundamentals have been strong. Occupancy rates have been above long-run averages for a couple of years and rent growth has been robust.”

As an analyst, I have dedicated a lot of time to studying the macroeconomics of multifamily housing. As the President and Senior Analyst for the Kansas Rural Housing Coalition, I have written and published over 60,000 pages of data, research, and information on housing trends. Due to my level of expertise, I am regularly asked to speak at conferences and events across Kansas. Last week I spoke to Kansas community leaders on “The Future of Kansas Housing” at the Kansas League of Municipalities annual conference.

Through my research, one of the strongest trends that I have seen in Kansas is the fact that almost every city (i.e., with a stable and growing population) has is an ongoing demand for quality rental housing. I have also found that multifamily housing – when developed and managed the right way – can achieve high occupancy rates, as well as rents that increase over time. One analysis that I completed analyzed the rental rates in Wichita since 1975, and that study revealed a long-term average occupancy rate above 90%.

As a developer, I’ve put my research into practice. My first project was a partnership involving the conversion of the original Wichita High School into downtown apartments. Most recently I developed a 216-unit complex at K-96 and Oliver. As the developer of hundreds of apartment units, I have learned a few keys lessons for success: A solid real estate development / investment model requires 1) research into existing demographics & market conditions, 2) a deep understanding of the many aspects of development & management, AND 3) a well-researched, intelligent, conservative, and financially feasible project plan.

Based on lessons learned, I recently launched the next evolution of my research and development efforts with the unveiling of a new prototype for high quality multifamily housing. That model was recognized for its groundbreaking innovation, when my company was invited to co-host the first annual Kansas Rural Housing Conference with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since that event (in December), I have begun to apply my new prototype to apartment projects in Wichita and in communities all across Kansas.

I realize that it is hard to find relatively safe, stable, and reliable investment opportunities in today’s changing economy. I am also smart enough to realize that there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to investing, and investors should not trust anyone who claims that they can guarantee future returns. That being said, when done right, multifamily housing can represent a solid investment option within today’s environment of low interest rates and uncertain (and changing) economic conditions.

If you are interested in learning more about multifamily housing, then I am happy to share my research and insights. For questions or inquiries, please feel free to contact me directly:

Jason Van Sickle - President, J Van Sickle & Company 151 N Rock Island, Suite 1C | Wichita, Ks 67202 | 316-262-2720 | jvansickle@jvscompany.com