Pricing Multi-Family commercial real estate in Louisiana is often difficult because the sector includes a wide range of types, from 100 year old plantation housing called shotgun doubles to low-rise garden style to high rise complexes. Each property type contains its own revenue supply and demand line and expense percentage, producing a variety of net operating incomes which affect how a property is priced. This article examines what the average prices are for Multi-Family across Louisiana and details the New Orleans market, and also explains how to price property based on its net operating income.

Market Size of Multi-Family In Louisiana

There is 4.7 million square feet of Multi-Family commercial real estate for sale in Louisiana, on the market for an average 242 days with an average sale price of $43.88 per square foot. The average price can be deceiving since it is biased by high dollar transaction which skew the averages. Of the 125 properties that are on the market, approximately 6 to 7 are sold each month, with the average sale price 11% below the list price.

Doubles vs. Garden Style

Pricing Multi-Family is a function of the net operating income, which is the revenue less expenses, with one exception. If the Multi-Family property is under 4 units, it can be converted into a single family house, and the price should be compared to existing single family homes with the same square footage that could compete with the same buyers.

New Orleans Market Prices

If the property is larger than 4 units, the property should be priced using either net operating income or average unit price. The chart below shows prices for New Orleans Multi-Family per unit (currently $69,000) have been higher than prices per unit across the state (currently $54,000) for the last 8 years.

chart new orleans

chart new Orleans

Multi-Family prices peaked in 2008 after a 50% increase, then plummeted with the recession, then rallied, fell and rallied again. Year-to-date in 2014, prices are currently up 19.7% in New Orleans and up 6.6% across Louisiana.

Using Net Operating Income To Value Commercial Property

Whether you are investing in stocks or bonds or real estate or certificates of deposit, you do so to realize a greater future value after inflation. All of these investments have a value determined by two inputs: cash flow and appreciation. With stocks, you might get a dividend and hopefully a capital gain, and with CD’s you get income and no gain, just your principal back, and with bonds you get interest, or cash flow, and principal back at maturity and maybe a gain or loss if the value of the bond trades higher or lower before maturity. With commercial real estate, you get rental income and maybe appreciation when you sell.

The smart way to value all of these investments is to calculate the present value of the future cash flows. That is, what you would pay today for the future income generated by the investment? If you expect to receive $100 one year from now, how much would you pay for that investment today? First, you have to know your opportunity cost, or how much interest you would earn on your next best opportunity. Let’s say you could earn 3% in a CD for one year, then comparing that to an alternative investment for one year that would pay $100, you would divide the $100 by one plus the interest rate (1 +3%), or 1.03, which is the same as $100/1.03 which equals $97.087. Therefore, you would pay $97.087 today for $100 in one year.

To value commercial real estate, you use the same formula:

Value = Net Operating Income Divided By Cap Rate

table gross operating income

table gross operating income

You start with the calculation of the Net Operating Income, which is Gross Income less Operating Expenses. Gross Income is the income stream generated by the operation of the property, independent of external factors such as financing and income taxes. It includes both rental income and other income such as parking fees, laundry and vending receipts.

operating expenses

operating expenses

Operating Expenses are costs incurred during the operation and maintenance of a property. They include maintenance and repairs but not long term capital expenses, as well as insurance, accounting, permits, advertising, management fees, utilities, supplies, and property taxes. Smart investors will add in management fees on smaller properties that are managed by the owner for free.

The following are not operating expenses: principal and interest, capital expenditures, depreciation, income taxes, and amortization of loan points. The result is Net Operating Income which is divided by the Cap Rate to determine the price.

Average Revenues and Expenses For Multi-Family

What is the average for Multi-Family Net Operating Income? The National Apartment Association completes a survey each year to determine the average revenues and expenses, as shown in the table below. The first column shows the figures in dollars per unit and the second column shows the same in dollars per square feet.

table revenues and expenses 2013

table revenues and expenses 2013


Cap Rate Averages 3 Percent Over The 10 Year Treasury Rate

According to research from the largest financing institution, Freddie Mac, the Multi-Family sector has average national Cap Rates of 6.40%, and has been trending down since 1995 from its peak at 10%. Note the Cap Rate solid line tracks the 10 year Treasury Rate dotted line.

chart cap rate

chart cap rate

In summary, using the tables above to illustrate how to price Multi-Family, the national average Net Operating Income is $5,087 per unit, divided by the national average Cap Rate of 6.40% results in an average per unit price for Multi-Family of $79,484.




Nationwide, the jobs picture wouldn’t look as good if it weren’t for the energy industry.

Take out the 1.1 million jobs created in Texas, the state that has led in job creation, and the country would be 350,000 below the 2008 peak, according to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The U.S. economy achieved a milestone in May with employment exceeding the all-time high in January 2008. Yet 29 states have not recovered all the jobs they lost in the recession, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. The weakest employment rebound has been in the states worst hit by the bursting of the 2002-06 housing bubble. Arizona, Florida, and Nevada each remain more than 50,000 jobs short of the employment highs they logged from December 2007 to June 2009.

map GDP by region

map GDP by region

1250 poydras front

1250 poydras front

The largest contiguous Class A office tower space available in New Orleans' Central Business District is being converted to a Hyatt Hotel, according to Robert Hand, president of Louisiana Commercial Realty, LLC, who marketed the 56,000 square feet on three floors at the 1250 Poydras Office Tower, located on the corner of Loyola Avenue and Poydras Street, in downtown New Orleans. The 56,000 square feet on floors 11, 12 and 13 will be combined with existing empty office space on floors 14 through 17, and converted to 194 hotel rooms totaling 134,000 square feet on seven floors and expected to be open for business in 2015.

ENI Petroleum in April 2007 spent $4.7 billion to purchase Dominion Resources who in July 2007 leased five full floors because their space in Dominion Tower at 1450 Poydras Street was unavailable due to Hurricane Katrina. ENI Petroleum eventually moved their employees to Houston, Texas, and the space has been vacant since. Dominion Tower was purchased by Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, in September 2009, who renamed it Benson Tower.

ENI initially hired a local real estate firm to find a tenant for the vacant space, but after a year they were still unsuccessful in subleasing the space so they brought in Louisiana Commercial Realty who is known for using sophisticated strategies to market complicated commercial real estate. "The space was strategically located in the center of all the new and exciting activity in downtown New Orleans. There's more activity in this area than anywhere else in downtown New Orleans due the $200 million dollar South Market development," said Robert Hand, president of Louisiana Commercial Realty. "We promoted the space both locally and nationwide, utilizing sophisticated marketing strategies and negotiated a lease buyout which saved our client over $2.5 million dollars. Our research showed the space had what appraisers call a 'higher and better use'. It just makes economic sense, but it is out-of-the box thinking".

Hand says, "Our research also showed that of the 9,000,000 square feet of Class A CBD office space, over 1,000,000 square feet of Class A CBD office space is for lease and half of that is full floor space. With the thriving New Orleans tourism-based economy, there is more demand for hotel use than for full floor Class A office space, so we focused on that target market. Since there was an October 2018 expiration to the original lease, we implemented our expedited marketing strategy which included creating a detailed 20 page marketing presentation, pushing it to 2,900 SIOR and 9,500 CCIM's who are the top commercial real estate agents in country, and connecting with 30,000 commercial real estate brokers and site selection managers and 40,000 office leasing brokers to promote the property. We partnered with Duff & Phelps to reach out to targeted companies who might come to New Orleans to take advantage of the tax incentives. Once we secured an interested party, we drafted and negotiated a lease buyout, saving our client millions in lease expenses. The savings can make an impact to their bottom line and their stock price."

The seven floors of office space will be converted to hotel space and operated by Select Hotels Group, LLC, an affiliate of Hyatt Hotels. The 1250 Poydras building has walkway access to the existing Hyatt Hotel at 601 Loyola Avenue and has access to covered parking, creating synergies between the previous office space and the existing hotel space. The cost of the conversion will be financed by a $120,000,000 loan from Starwood Property Mortgage, LLC, a subsidiary of Starwood Property Trust, the nation's largest commercial mortgage real estate investment trust with a $5 billion capitalization (symbol STWD). The loan is guaranteed by a 60 year lease from the building owner, Poydras Properties, to Waypoint NOLA, LLC.

About Louisiana Commercial Realty LLC

Louisiana Commercial Realty LLC is renowned for its creative problem solving in marketing high value, complicated commercial properties. President Robert Hand is the only commercial real estate broker in Louisiana with an MBA and the CCIM and SIOR designations.


Louisiana Commercial Realty

Commercial Real Estate Experts
Robert Hand, MBA, CCIM, SIOR
Licensed in Louisiana & Mississippi
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