Marcus & Millichap reports higher apartment values Marcus & Millichap (M&M), a national commercial real estate firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., has released its 1998 National Investment Forecast. The report observes that apartment values gained an average 8% and rents rose an average 5% in 1997 throughout the nation. These gains bring the average apartment increase since 1994 to 27% and average rent growth during the same time period to 17%. On the forecast side, the markets with the highest construction volume will be Dallas, Phoenix, Orlando, Fla., Portland, Ore., Austin, Texas and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. For more information on how to obtain the report, please call Marcus & Millichap at (650) 494-8900.

First USDA affordable housing project opens In the first development of its kind, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has guaranteed $1.86 million in financing under its new Rural Housing Services Section 538 Guaranteed Loan Demonstration Program. Under the program, Tampa, Fla.-base First Housing arranged construction and permanent financing for Devonshire, a 41-unit affordable housing project in Eustis, Fla. This project utilizes loan origination and servicing expertise offered by the USDA loan program. Loan participants were Colonial Bank in Eustis and First Union Bank at Jacksonville, with the funds being guaranteed by the USDA at 90% loan-to-value for a fixed term of 40 years.

WMF Group fills two executive positions The WMF Group, a commercial mortgage financial services company based in Vienna, Va., has selected Frank Guzikowski to join the company in the position of multifamily relationship manager. In this capacity, Guzikowski will facilitate the multifamily lending activities for WMF's 18 offices nationwide. He was formerly a real estate consultant with Arthur Andersen and spent 10 years with the mortgage banking firm of Walker & Dunlap.

Also, in WMF Huntoon Paige's Seattle office, Stephen Benine joins the company as senior loan officer. Benine will originate FHA-insured financing in the western region. He brings more than 20 years' experience in mortgage banking to Huntoon and, prior to joining the company, he was vice president for Viking Community Bank in Seattle.

Related Capital appoints executive vice president New York-based Related Capital Co. has appointed James D. Spound to the position of executive vice president. Spound will focus primarily on tax-exempt financing of affordable housing multifamily properties on behalf of CharterMac, a business trust managed by Related Capital that is currently trading on Wall Street. He brings more than 13 years experience in real estate finance to the company.

Washington, D.C.-based National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) has released a report detailing the important changes under way in the apartment industry. The new information was collected by the NMHC, along with its affiliates the American Seniors Housing Association and National Apartment Association. Why Apartments Are Vital to America reviews new developments in the industry that not only increase the desirability of apartments as homes, but they also make multifamily communities an integral part of local marketplaces.

The report points out that apartments enrich local areas both economically and socially. Construction of 100 new apartment units in the average city creates 121 local jobs and provides more than $5.2 million in local taxes, fees, wages and business receipts. The economic impact from apartments, combined with the conservation of resources and the diversity in housing choices they offer, is an important part of all American residential environments. Apartment community design now focuses on encouraging community participation as much as providing shelter. Please call the NMHC at (202) 974-2300 for the report.