Panelists at the 2011 Multifamily Executive Conference noted the industry has become more visible in the debate over housing finance reform.

Some industry stakeholders are concerned single-family housing will overshadow the apartment sector, particularly because government-sponsored enterprises concentrate most of their business in single-family housing.

According to MFE, multifamily financing is about 5 percent of the GSE's business, but the enterprises are responsible for more than 60 percent of the apartment owners permanent debt market.

As a result, legislators may fail to consider the effect housing finance reform and changes in the operation of GSEs might have on the multifamily sector. Because of the difficulties the single-family housing industry is experiencing, however, awareness of the multifamily sector is growing. Legislators may better understand how many Americans live in rental housing, particularly as that number has grown in recent years.

For the time being, the concern is contained because legislators are more immediately interested in deficit reduction. As a result, multifamily stakeholders believe there is still time for Congress to learn about the relationship between GSEs and the multifamily market.

If the apartment sector maintains it status as a point of strength in the broader real estate market, legislators' perceptions, and priorities, may change.