D-FW’s biggest apartment builder is ramping up for more construction

Written by MLHA Team

April 19, 2021

North Texas’ biggest apartment builder is gearing up for more than a dozen new area apartment starts this year.

Irving-based JPI plans to build a combination of market rate and more affordable rental communities throughout the area.

The ambitious development program JPI has in the works is a turnabout from a year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, construction projects were put on hold and there were worries that the apartment sector would suffer huge declines.

“The view today is dramatically different,” JPI CEO Brad Taylor said. “Multifamily has fared much better than expected a year ago.

“It’s been a blessing to have so much activity in Dallas-Fort Worth,” he said. “And the recovery here is stronger certainly than other markets.”

In the first quarter, net apartment leasing in the D-FW area was the strongest in more than a decade. And North Texas led the country in apartment demand.

“Our rent collections and occupancies in our Texas assets have been good,” Taylor said. “It’s certainly exceeded expectations a year ago.”

The D-FW area continued to see thousands of migrants from out of state, even during the pandemic.

Continued moves to the area and the severe shortage of houses for sale have been a boon to apartment owners.

“For decades, D-FW has, relative to the national average, been a high-growth market for employment and population,” Taylor said. “The expectation is there will be continue to be above-market growth in D-FW relative to the national economy.

“We’ve been short on the single-family housing side many years now — especially entry-level single-family,” he said. “Our industry has always found comfort that a growing population will always need housing.”

To meet demand for housing in the area, JPI plans to start from eight to 10 market-rate rental communities in North Texas this year. The developer is also working on starts of more affordable, workforce housing rental projects in the D-FW area.

“Our business plan is four a year — maybe 1,200 units,” Taylor said. “More and more of our products (rental communities) have moved to lower-density, more suburban locations.”

Taylor said the workforce units will rent for between 15% and 25% less than the buidler’s standard product.

Taylor said JPI has previously built about 10% of the apartments under construction in North Texas. “Our business plan going forward is to increase our market share in D-FW to 15%.”

JPI can sell almost every apartment development it builds.

Demand for rental housing from investors has soared in the last year, with the D-FW area leading the nation in apartment building buys.

“The Sun Belt is preferred and D-FW is a preferred market to invest in,” Taylor said. “Multifamily continues to be a favored asset class.”

In 2020, JPI sold eight of its properties to an affiliate of investor Lone Star Funds. The purchases were some of the largest apartment acquisitions on record in North Texas.

“There is more liquidity in the market today than I have probably ever seen in my career,” Taylor said. “There has been a capital windfall as investors pivoted from other markets — think about New York, San Francisco, etc. — to Texas.”

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