Why Are Small and Medium Multifamily Properties So Inexpensive?
Forthcoming, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics
49 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 7, 2019
Small and medium multifamily properties — defined as buildings having between 2 and 49 units — house over 20 percent of the U.S. population, yet they remain an understudied segment of the housing market. Using a rich, transaction-level dataset in eleven major urban counties, we find that they transact at a significant price discount relative to both single-family and large multifamily properties on a per square foot basis. Controlling for both unit- and building-level structural characteristics, small multifamily structures (with 2 to 4 units) transact at a 13.2 percent discount relative to single-family houses. Further analysis shows that neighborhood characteristics can explain 48.5 percent of this difference, leaving a sizable residual unexplained. We also find that medium-sized multifamily structures (5 to 49 units) are similarly discounted relative to larger multifamily buildings. This persistently remaining discount may result from asset-specific characteristics. On balance, the analysis reveals a U-shaped price gradient, with the greatest discount for the smallest multifamily properties (2 to 9 units) and a diminishing discount for greater building size.
Keywords: Small and medium multifamily, affordable housing, asset pricing, neighborhood effects, asset-specific characteristics, local housing markets
JEL Classification: R3, R31, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation