Lenders across the board are exiting the market, at least temporarily. While interest rates and treasuries have dropped to historic lows, there is limited liquidity in the market while most lenders take a wait-and-see approach.
“We are in a historically low interest rates that I haven’t seen in my career,” Gary Bechtel, president of Money360, tells GlobeSt.com. “The issue is not interest rates; it is liquidity and lenders’ desire to lend in a market where we are not sure where the bottom is and what the long-term outlook is for the economy. When you typically see during turmoil is that lenders, both traditional and non-traditional lenders, is that people exit the market to wait for the floor to come and get some direction. You might see some lenders increase spreads and get much more conservative in their lending approach.”
In the traditional lending market, some lenders have completely exited the market, and others are pricing conservatively with wider spreads. “We have seen CMBS lenders completely pull out of this market because the B-piece lenders really don’t know how to price,” says Bechtel. “We have seen life companies go to the sidelines or quote even more conservatively than they already were, which was very conservatively, and we have seen banks pull back as far as how much they are willing to lend on an LTV basis and their spreads have gone up.”
In the non-bank lending market, many companies have hit the pause button, particularly those with high leverage. “We have also seen a lot of groups in the non-bank lending space exit the market,” says Bechtel. “A lot of those groups had substantial margin calls in the last two or three weeks, and not only are they not lending but they are selling portfolios to raise cash to continue the business. The non-bank lenders that are still lending have increased their spreads and decreased the leverage to stay in the market.”
For Money360, the recent events have warranted a pause, and while the company isn’t pulling out of the market altogether, the company is unlikely to do a deal through the end of the month. “We are still looking at transactions, but very selectively,” says Bechtel. “Like many lenders, we have taken a pause to reevaluate the situation, especially on the value-add projects that we had made a steady diet of. We will reevaluate at the end of the month. We are still entertaining the portfolio that we have, but we are not entertaining a lot of new loan requests until we can sort the pricing out and until the market returns to some sense of normalcy.”