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What Happened in The 1970s That Shaped Multifamily Today?

1970s Multifamily Investing

Given the volatility and uncertainty in today’s market, multifamily real estate investors can gain some valuable insights by understanding historical trends. Real estate investing, after all, is a cyclical business.

The late 1970s to early 1980s was a period marked by high inflation, skyrocketing interest rates, and significant economic challenges. Yet, it was also a time when sophisticated investors identified opportunities that led to substantial profits. As we navigate a similarly volatile economic landscape, let’s take a look into the lessons from this past era and explore how passive multifamily investors can benefit now.

Economic Parallels: Then and Now

The late 1970s and early 1980s were characterized by:

  • High Inflation: Inflation rates soared, increasing the costs of goods, services, and construction materials.

  • High Interest Rates: In response to inflation, the Federal Reserve implemented aggressive interest rate hikes, peaking in the early 1980s.

  • Energy Crises: Volatile energy prices and geopolitical tensions added to economic instability.

Sound familiar? Today, we’re experiencing high inflation, rising interest rates, and geopolitical uncertainties. By examining how investors thrived during the previous period of time, we can gain insights into making informed decisions in our current market.

So, What Really Happened in The 1970s that Shaped Multifamily Today?

Despite economic challenges, the multifamily real estate market exhibited resilience. Here’s how:

  • Increased Rental Demand: High mortgage rates made homeownership less affordable, pushing more people to rent. This boosted demand for multifamily housing.

  • Rising Rents: With increased demand and inflationary pressures, rents rose, providing higher income for property owners.

  • Regulatory Landscape: While some cities implemented rent control measures, the overall demand for rental properties remained strong.


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Case Studies of Success

Several notable investors and companies capitalized on this tumultuous period:

  • Sam Zell and Equity Group Investments: Known as the “Grave Dancer,” Zell thrived by purchasing distressed properties at discounted prices. His focus on acquiring and revitalizing underperforming multifamily properties led to substantial profits.

  • Trammell Crow Residential: Despite high interest rates, Trammell Crow continued to develop and acquire multifamily properties, anticipating long-term rental demand. Their strategic investments paid off as the economy stabilized.

  • Donald Bren and The Irvine Company: Bren’s strategic land acquisitions and multifamily developments, combined with leveraging tax benefits, resulted in significant gains.

  • Heitman Financial: By investing in income-producing real estate and utilizing innovative financing structures, Heitman Financial achieved substantial appreciation in property values.

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Strategies for Today’s Investors

Drawing from these examples, here are key strategies for passive multifamily investors in today’s market:

  • Identify Value-Add Opportunities: Focus on properties that can be improved through renovations or better management. These investments can increase rental income and property values.

  • Leverage Tax Benefits: Utilize current tax incentives for real estate investments, such as depreciation and opportunity zone programs, to enhance returns.

  • Strategic Timing: Consider entering the market during periods of high interest rates and economic uncertainty, when property prices may be lower. Hold these investments until the market stabilizes for potential appreciation.

  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of economic trends, regulatory changes, and market conditions. Being informed allows for proactive adjustments to investment strategies.

Final Thoughts:

The late 1970s to early 1980s taught us that even in challenging economic times, there are opportunities for substantial profits in the multifamily real estate market. By learning from the strategies of successful investors from that era, today’s passive multifamily investors can navigate the current economic landscape with confidence and foresight. Embrace the lessons of the past, stay informed, and strategically position your investments to maximize returns in the multifamily sector.

For more insights and tips on multifamily real estate investment, stay tuned to our blog and podcast. Together, we can make the most of today’s market opportunities!

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P.S. If one of your priorities, like mine, is building and preserving your wealth through multifamily real estate investments, click here to download my new eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Creating & Preserving Your Wealth.


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If you are an accredited investor interested in learning more about passively investing in multifamily properties, click here to complete our investor form and schedule a call with our Investor Relations team.

About Ellie Perlman

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Ellie Perlman is the founder of Blue Lake Capital, a commercial real estate investment firm specializing in multifamily investing throughout the United States. At Blue Lake Capital, Ellie partners with both institutional and individual investors to grow their wealth by achieving double-digit returns by investing alongside her in exclusive multifamily deals they usually don't have access to.

A defining factor of Blue Lake Capital’s strategy is founded in utilizing machine learning/artificial intelligence throughout the course of all acquisitions and asset management. This advanced technology enables the company to produce accurate and data-driven forecasting for all assets on a market, property, and even tenant basis. In doing so, Blue Lake is able to lead commercial investments with the full capabilities of today’s technology.

Ellie is the founding host of REady2Scale, a podcast that highlights the assets, processes, and strategies for the multiple approaches to successful real estate investing.

She started her career as a commercial real estate lawyer, leading real estate transactions for one of Israel’s leading development companies. Later, as a property manager for Israel’s largest energy company, she oversaw properties worth over $100MM. Additionally, Ellie is an experienced entrepreneur who helped build and scale companies by improving their business operations.

Ellie holds a Masters in Law from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.

You can read more about Blue Lake Capital and Ellie Perlman at

*The content provided on this website, including all downloadable resources, is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice. Furthermore, this material does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities.


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