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New research released today by Freddie Mac indicates that affordability and changing attitudes towards renting are playing a significant role in the growing demand for rental housing. The study finds that an increasing number of America's renters are satisfied with their living situation and consider it the most affordable option for the foreseeable future. More renters believe this despite their view that housing prices -- both to purchase and rent -- continue to rise and supply continues to tighten.

According to the latest Freddie Mac renter survey, a large number of renters view renting as an option that fits their lifestyle, and a strategic choice at many life stages. While sentiments differ among urban, suburban and rural households, nationally those who believe that renting is more affordable has increased to 76 percent from 68 percent since Freddie Mac's last renter survey in March, 2017.

"Our rental survey confirms what we're seeing in the market -- that a growing number of individuals across demographic groups view renting as more affordable and better suited to their current economic situation," said David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily. "These changing perceptions, combined with rising rents and tightening supply of affordable housing, are likely to fuel continued multifamily market growth in the years ahead. More importantly, it makes our role -- providing financing to meet the nation's growing workforce housing need -- even more important."

Changing Perceptions Towards Renting
Conducted by Harris Poll, the survey finds an increasing number of renters view renting as a good choice for them, increasing in August to 57 percent compared to 52 percent in March, 2017. Over half of renters -- 58 percent -- believe that "renting fits my current lifestyle". Of these respondents, 63 percent of Young Millennials ages 21-27 and Baby Boomers ages 53-71 feel the statement reflects their views. Moreover, 55 percent see renting as a strategic choice at many life stages, with 45 percent of Younger Millennials, 51 percent of Older Millennials (aged 28-37), 56 percent of Generation X (aged 38-52), and 68 percent of Boomers sharing those views.

A Majority View Renting as the Far More Affordable Option
Bolstering these perceptions are evolving views on affordability. While more than seven out of 10 renters view renting as more affordable than owning generally, perceptions of renting as more affordable have increased across all generations as well. In fact, since September of 2016, the view that renting is more affordable has increased by more than 10 percentage points among Millennials (66 percent to 76 percent), Generation X (56 percent to 75 percent) and Baby Boomers (71 percent to 82 percent).

Simultaneously, most renters believe all housing is becoming costlier, with 57 percent believing home prices have increased, and 56 percent viewing rents as on the rise. The research finds that renters living in urban areas are feeling the cost increases most significantly, with 6 out of 10 renters living in urban areas saying housing prices are more expensive compared to last year. Further, most renters see supply tightening, with 52 percent citing the supply of available homes to purchase -- and 63 percent viewing available rental options -- as about the same or lower than last year. The rental shortage is particularly pronounced among rural renters with a third (33 percent) believing there are fewer homes to rent where they live.

While owning a home continues to remain an aspiration for many, the financial realities of cost and tight inventory make renting the more practical option. An increasing number of renters believe it will be more affordable to rent than to own in the future. The number who view renting as more affordable in the next 12 months increased to 25 percent from 20 percent in March, 2017, while the number who believe buying a home would become more affordable decreased to 15 percent from 18 percent over the same period.

Views on the Rental Experience Remain Positive
Overall, satisfaction with the rental experience remains high and largely unchanged. Approximately 60 percent of renters express satisfaction with their overall rental experience. While 41 percent of those surveyed cited affordability as the primary driver of their renting decision, one-third (33 percent) said buying a home is just not a priority at the moment.

The survey also explored views about rental housing as it relates to working life. About half of renters (56 percent) express high satisfaction with their commute. However, a much higher percentage (76 percent) indicated they are at least somewhat willing to move to a smaller property to live closer to work. About 41 percent of employed renters find it difficult to find affordable housing close to where they work.

Conducted in March for Freddie Mac by the Harris Poll, the findings are based on responses from 1,342 renters in urban, suburban, and rural markets, including Millennials (aged 21-37), Gen-X'ers (38-52) and Baby Boomers (53-71).

Underscoring the growing popularity and demand for Freddie Mac’s Small Balance Loan offering, it was announced today that the platform has achieved, for the first time since the SBL offering’s inception in late 2014, $1 billion in funded loans in under a year from a single lender, Greystone.

Freddie Mac’s Small Balance Loan offering provides a competitive option for loans between $1 million and $6 million on multifamily properties comprising between 5 and 50 units. The flexible loan offering provides six different hybrid ARM and fixed-rate financing solutions with 30-year amortization and up to 80% LTV in certain markets.

Since its launch in 2014, the SBL offering has funded a total of $10.5 billion and over 4,000 loans. Illustrating its commitment to the Freddie Mac SBL lending platform since the offering’s launch, Greystone was the first lender to close an SBL loan in 2014, a $1.9 million loan on a 6-unit property in Newport Beach, CA.   

"Greystone has been a strong partner from the inception of our Small Balance Loan Program and remains a pillar of its success," said David Brickman, executive vice president and Head of Freddie Mac Multifamily. "On behalf of Freddie Mac Multifamily, we congratulate Greystone on achieving this significant milestone, and look forward to strengthening our partnership in the months and years to come." 

“Appetite for the Freddie Mac Small Balance Loan offering is growing by leaps and bounds, and we look forward to the next billion in funded deals,” added Rick Wolf, head of Greystone’s small balance loan production.”

"Our relationship with Freddie Mac is stronger than ever, and we are honored to have reached this funding milestone with them," said Stephen Rosenberg, CEO, Greystone. "Greystone is committed to being the easiest and most delightful lender to work with by empowering our employees and investing in technology." 

Greystone, a real estate lending, investment and advisory company, today announced its closing of a $550,000,000 permanent Freddie Mac loan made to joint-venture partners The Moinian Group and SL Green Realty Corp. for Sky Residences (“Sky”), one of Manhattan’s premier mixed-use residential buildings. The Greystone Bassuk debt advisory team, led by Richard Bassuk and Drew Fletcher, represented the Borrower and assisted in obtaining the Freddie Mac loan through Greystone’s Affordable Lending team. The transaction marks the largest-ever single-asset tax-exempt financing completed by Freddie Mac and a first-of-its-kind private placement structure that includes permanent financing for hundreds of affordable housing units in New York City. Steve Rosenberg, CEO of Greystone, together with Billy Posey, Joe Mosley, and Jeff Englund, collaborated with Freddie Mac on the structure for Moinian and SL Green, and spearheaded the loan process for Greystone.

Sky, located at 605 West 42nd Street, is one of New York City’s most iconic luxury rental buildings with 1,175 units and 70,000 square feet of amenity space in a 71-story tower. Developed by Moinian and designed by internationally acclaimed Rockwell Group, Sky offers an unparalleled suite of services and amenities for its residents including an exclusive multi-level fitness club; water club; spa; lap pool; NBA regulation-size basketball court; two outdoor pools; café; kids’ club; and a private outdoor park design by Thomas Balsley. The building also holds the unique distinction of being the largest single-tower residential building in the United States, with 25% of its units designated as moderate and affordable housing.  Lifetime Fitness, Volvo and Icon Parking occupy commercial space and the property also includes an onsite parking garage. The project is utilizing 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits and both tax-exempt and taxable variable rate bonds issued by New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA).

The Freddie Mac loan completes an exit from the original construction financing provided by Bank of China and Union Labor Life Insurance Company in 2014.  The permanent loan was structured as a direct purchase by Freddie Mac of the HFA bonds with a pre-stabilized funding and early spread lock. Freddie Mac completed the direct purchase of the bonds with plans to securitize the bonds in a single-asset securitization, a first-of-its-kind structure that provided certainty of execution while also delivering pricing far below a standard bond credit enhancement. The structure was put in place under the Affordable New York Housing Program, the city’s revamped 421-a tax abatement program.

“Sky brings more than 1,100 new apartments—25 percent with long-term affordability restrictions—to the front lines of the affordable housing crisis,” said David D. Leopold, Vice President, Targeted Affordable Sales & Investments at Freddie Mac Multifamily. “Such a large, complex transaction took a strong partnership between Freddie Mac, the New York State Housing Finance Agency, Greystone, and The Moinian Group. I thank them for their dedication to increasing the amount of affordable rental units in an area that critically needs it.”

“The Moinian Group is extremely proud to deepen its relationship with Freddie Mac with this ground-breaking transaction,” said Joseph Moinian, CEO and Founder of The Moinian Group. “David Brickman, David Leopold and the entire senior leadership team at Freddie Mac worked tirelessly alongside Steve Rosenberg and his counterparts at Greystone, to deliver a one-of-a-kind execution for the premier asset in our portfolio. For more than 20 years we have been investors along the Far West Side, where we own more than four million square feet. Our enthusiasm for the neighborhood is greater now than ever before.” 

“We are thrilled to have collaborated successfully with Freddie Mac and Greystone’s lending team to deliver such a market-leading execution for Moinian’s premier project, Sky,” said Drew Fletcher, President, Greystone Bassuk. “This financing marks the culmination of over a decade of investment by Joe Moinian which has catalyzed the development of Manhattan’s Far West Side into one of the City’s most dynamic and fastest-growing residential neighborhoods.”

"While mixed-income multifamily lending deals of this size don't occur every day, it's truly gratifying to know that Freddie Mac's commitment to affordable housing can be applied in such an impactful way," said Jeff Englund, Senior Managing Director of Greystone's Affordable Lending group. "Affordable housing is desperately needed in New York and nationwide, and Greystone remains committed to helping to finance transactions that create or preserve this housing for the long term."