As the US housing market continues to be taken through the ringer, executives of the Houston Apartment Association paneled up and answered questions Thursday at UH about how the economy is affecting their market.
The C.T. Bauer College of Business Graduate Real-Estate Program invited three of Houston’s leading apartment complex developers: Bill Sengelmann, Kim Small and Jerry Winograd, to a mediated panel discussion about multi-family developments’ place in the current housing economy.
“It’s a great time to be an apartment owner,” said Sengelmann, President of Camden Property Trust. “All the bad things in the single family market aren’t happening to us.”
In 2011, Fortune Magazine ranked Camden the 7th best company to work for in the country.
“Buying a home today is tough,” Sengelmann said. “I witnessed a young couple with 50 percent down, but no credit established, try and buy a home only to get turned down. This is what’s driving up occupancy in multi-family housing.”
Camden has had recent success in the Orlando, Fla. market re-leasing 50 apartment units in one complex within a month. The housing market in Houston was this hot in the early 2000’s. New Home Developers were capitalizing on flexible housing qualification, which later burned down the economy. Now, the nation’s home qualification process is fueling multi-family housing and sending these three panelists to the bank.
“Houston is a healthy market for apartments,” said Small, a UH alumnus and current Houston Apartment Association president. “The energy corridor, medical center and minimal new home construction are beautiful things for my business.”
Small traded blows about competition in the apartment business.
“At the end of the day, it’s about who can execute best,” Small said. “Quality execution in the apartment business starts with the managers who are on-site. The good managers have balance and are able to do it all.”
Small said apartment management in Houston is a healthy line of work to get into. These are the people who stay when times are good and bad. They stay because they are the full package — managing fires, developing business strategies and keeping business going.
“I’m thankful I’m in Houston,” said Winograd, 2006 Houston Apartment Association president and current president of Judwin Properties. “The Houston market is hitting on all cylinders.”
Winograd gestured toward his two colleagues sitting to his right.
“People in this business are good to each other,” he said. “There’s enough business to go around. We are not competitors; we’re friends in the same business. When the meeting is over I’m going to ask Mrs. Small about a workout machine that I want to buy for one of my apartments, and I know she will give me the honest truth about it.”