WASHINGTON, DC-Brokerages and real estate firms across the DC area are in the process of totaling their sales for the year and the Cassidy Turley team of Christian Miles, Philip Mudd and Bradley Geiger is no exception. Their one group is not only expected to turn in some $650 million for the year–30% more than 2011–but also start 2013 with a healthy $225 million to $250 million pipeline. Of that $650 million, some $400 million closed in the last 60 days.
There are a number of reasons for the healthy sales, starting with, as the trio insists, the strong support of other groups at Cassidy Turley and the company’s platform.
The 2012 numbers are also telling for another reason: namely, they point to a new level of aggressiveness and willingness to be flexible among lenders, at least those lenders eager to get their hands on DC-area assets. “We are seeing a greater diversification of lenders and loan types targeting the area,” Miles says. “And all of these players are competing with each other in more aggressive ways. Consequently, the rates are remarkable.” Agencies, for instance, are quoting ten-year term rates well below 10% and in the shorter-term borrowers can get rates in the 2-3% range.
Lender flexibility has been envelop-pushing, they say. they point to, among other examples: more banks willing to permit mezzanine lenders to join a financing, in order to achieve the loan dollars needed; Life companies offering construction-permanent loans, instead of allowing banks to pick up the construction piece, in order to grab the extra yield; CMBS that has become so price competitive, it is steadily encroaching in the life insurance companies’ territory; banks that have begun offering construction loans with lengthier loan terms with pricing that is very competitive, and possibly even more flexible than the life companies; and equity investors experimenting with many different kinds of financing structures. These trends are bound to continue especially as the ten-year CMBS loans mature, Geiger says. “That is when we will see even more banks and life companies putting mezz on top. A lot of those deals were 85% LTV so they will have to ratchet up with mezz money to pay off the loans or it will come out of their pockets.”
It is not just the lenders that made their job easier this year–but the quality of borrowers as well, Mudd says. DC’s local real estate families are highly coveted by lenders because they are stable and tend to hold their buildings for long periods of time. “The leverage tends to be modest and their goals’ long term,” Mudd says. “Lenders love that.” What happens is, he says, is that lenders take a look at the sponsors, at the properties, and decide they have to have them in their portfolios, he says. “A lot of them have cash reserves and need to put them to work finally. So they see an attractive product and are willing to run a little harder and faster to get it.”