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Apartment communities in central America (NYSE: COUNTRY), one of the leading real estate investment trusts (REITs) specializing in apartment rentals, has had an impressive performance over the past year. Stock prices rose 72% year over year, nearly triple the S&P 500the growth. The market is definitely paying attention to this action, but that’s not the only reason people are talking about MAA. Here’s a closer look at what makes this company such an exciting investment today.

Prime Sun Belt Exhibition

The pandemic has changed almost every facet of life as we know it. But the ability to work from home remains one of the biggest changes we’re going through. This newfound freedom to work remotely has allowed countless families to reassess where and how they live, seeking alternative housing in warmer, more affordable climates. This migration to the Sun Belt, which is the southern region of the United States, is one of the main reasons Mid-America’s apartment communities thrive.

Almost the entire Mid-America Apartments portfolio is located in the Sun Belt, which places it in a prime position to take advantage of this inward migration. The mixed growth in rents in October 2021 increased by more than 16% and the occupancy rate stands at 95.6%. This good performance is undoubtedly fueled by record rental real estate demand in the markets in which MAA operates, which is not expected to abate anytime soon.

Why is everyone talking about apartment communities in Central America?

Image source: Getty Images.

Unique growth opportunities

In addition to its Sun Belt exhibition, its business model sets MAA apart. Unlike most other apartment REITs, MAA does not focus solely on grassroots development or operate exclusively in one setting (such as the urban core or suburbs). Instead, it has a diverse portfolio of garden, mid-rise, and high-rise garden apartments in urban and suburban areas, primarily serving middle-income people, a stable demographic, and high demand for housing. rental units.

The company is also focused on improving its existing units to drive growth. At present, it has approximately 15,000 units identified for renovations. Over the past three years, the company has made improvements to 21,000 units, offering a 9% to 10% increase in rental rates for these units. Additionally, the company has a development program to help further expand its presence in its portfolio, which as of the third quarter of 2021 had eight active developments and one planned.

The demand for apartments is exploding right now as people try to fight rapidly rising house prices. Its rates likely to cool in some regions in the future, but markets experiencing increased migration, such as the Sun Belt, are expected to continue to warm. The company is well positioned financially with a strong balance sheet, with $ 29 million in cash and cash equivalents, a debt to EBITDA ratio of 4.6, which is well below the REIT industry average of 5.8, with the next major debt due. due 2023. Over 99% of debt has a fixed interest rate, with the average cost of borrowing being 3.4%. Given the company’s growth prospects and its unique exposure to the burgeoning Sun Belt, it’s clear that everyone is talking about this REIT.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are motley! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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