The Importance Of Finding The Risk-Premium In Multifamily Assets

Multifamily News
Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil

When purchasing class “C” multifamily properties, the risk premium has to be there for the acquisition to make sense fundamentally.

The risk premium is the difference between the cap rate (or yield) of an 'A' property and that of a 'B' property, and a “C” property. Fundamentals of commercial real estate points to a lower cap rate in class “A” and higher cap rates in “B” and “C”. The yield must reflect the risk.

As investors' appetite for multifamily continues to be robust, there have been many opportunities brought to market that do not account for the risk profile of older, traditional class “C” workforce housing product.

Over the past few years, the cap rate spread between “B” and “C” assets have been relatively thin and disproportionate to the risk of buying older assets.

Whenever we’re evaluating older workforce product, the risk premium has to be there. I personally think this has been a lost art of importance for some operators and aggressive rent growth projections have replaced the fundamentals of multifamily. Overpricing market demand has similarly been a leading driver for returns for many operators. This speculative outlook can be detrimental to your business plan’s success.

Risk Factors

When it comes to multifamily real estate investments, understanding the risk factors is crucial. These risks can be broadly categorized into two main categories: tenant delinquency or vacancy rates, and local economic conditions.

The first category, tenant delinquency and vacancy rates, directly impacts the cash flow of your investment property. If you have a significant number of tenants who are behind on their rent or have been evicted, it can result in a decrease in rental income from that property. Additionally, vacant units mean no revenue until they are filled with new tenants who pay rent in a timely manner.

The second category includes local economic conditions such as crime rates, unemployment rates, and housing prices in the surrounding area. These factors can significantly influence the desirability of a certain area or neighborhood within an area for potential tenants. For instance, if the crime rate is high near one of your properties, it may deter people from wanting to live there, resulting in lower demand for leases and potentially higher vacancy rates. This, in turn, can lead to decreased rental income as the supply of available units exceeds demand due to the negative impact of high crime rates nearby.

It's important for multifamily real estate investors to carefully assess these risk factors and take them into consideration when making investment decisions. Conducting thorough market research, evaluating tenant screening processes, and being proactive in managing tenant delinquency and vacancy rates are essential strategies for mitigating these risks and ensuring a successful investment in multifamily real estate.

Market Demand

Market demand is a critical factor to consider when investing in multifamily properties. The local economy plays a significant role in determining occupancy rates, rents, and property values. A robust and thriving local economy can lead to increased demand for rental properties in the area. When people have stable employment opportunities and disposable income, they are more likely to rent apartments or homes, which can positively impact the demand for your property.

In addition, a strong local economy can also lead to higher rental rates. Landlords are often able to charge higher rents when there is a healthy demand for rental properties and a limited supply of available units. This can result in increased rental income and potentially higher property values, ultimately benefiting the investor.

For instance, if you are considering purchasing an apartment building in a neighborhood with a burgeoning local economy, where new businesses are opening up and the area is experiencing economic growth, it may present a favorable opportunity to explore further. The increasing economic activity in the area could lead to higher demand for rental properties and the potential for higher rents, making it an attractive investment option.

When investing in multifamily properties, carefully assessing the local market demand and understanding the impact of the local economy on occupancy rates, rents, and property values can help you make informed investment decisions and maximize your potential returns.

Rent Growth Projections

The performance of multifamily assets is closely tied to the dynamics of supply and demand. When there is a shortage of housing in a market, it often leads to an increase in rents. On the other hand, when there is an oversupply of homes, rents tend to decline. This trend is evident in cities like San Francisco, where there has been a rapid surge in multifamily development in recent years. Despite the increase in supply, and subsequently lower demand, rents have continued to rise due to the already high rental rates compared to other markets.

The same principle holds true when considering underbuilding versus overbuilding in the multifamily sector. If too many units are built relative to the demand or need of the market, it can result in lower occupancy rates, leading to reduced rental revenue. In contrast, building an optimal number of units to meet the demand can result in higher occupancy rates and, consequently, higher rental growth rates, leading to increased revenue.

It's crucial for multifamily real estate investors to carefully assess the supply and demand dynamics of the local market to make informed decisions about property development or acquisition. Balancing supply with demand is essential to maintaining optimal occupancy rates and maximizing rental revenue in the multifamily sector.

Terminal (Exit) Cap Rate

The exit cap rate is the projection of what an investor would potentially pay for the asset under certain market conditions , and ultimately plays an important role in your analysis and return projections.


Understanding the concept of risk premium is crucial when it comes to investing in multifamily assets as it empowers investors to make informed decisions about their investments. By assessing the risk premium associated with a multifamily asset, investors can determine whether it aligns with their investment objectives and risk tolerance. This information can guide them in deciding whether to proceed with the investment or explore alternative opportunities.

Furthermore, the risk premium analysis can also aid in determining the most suitable types of multifamily properties to include in one's investment portfolio and align with their investment strategy. Different multifamily assets may carry varying levels of risk premium, which can impact their potential return on investment and overall performance. Understanding the risk premium associated with different types of multifamily properties can help investors strategically diversify their portfolio and optimize their investment strategy.

In summary, comprehending and evaluating the risk premium of multifamily assets is vital for making informed investment decisions, determining the right investment opportunities, and aligning one's investment strategy with their risk tolerance and objectives.