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ORLANDO-Are lenders red-lining certain project categories these days?

“Most definitely,” Mark L. Findura, president of locally based R.J. Twitty & Co. II, a mortgage banking and brokerage firm, tells GlobeSt.com. “We are seeing lenders who are reading the negative publicity about certain markets and reacting by reducing loan proceeds, utilizing more stringent underwriting criteria or, in certain cases, opting not to to lend on a certain product type in a particular market.”

Strong words from the head of a firm that has closed $60 million in deals in the past 45 days, running its 20-month total to $360 million in closed loans, sales and equity transactions.

Findura says lenders continue to prefer high-quality, well-located, strong-credit tenants, particularly those that dominate their markets. “For example, Publix (Supermarkets Inc. of Lakeland, FL) and Wal-Mart enjoy outstanding reputations within the lending community,” the broker says.

Malls are also well received “when stabilized,” Findura says. “Lenders are more interested in longer lease terms and potential alternative uses for the subject property.”

New office and new industrial product have to prove themselves. “Office loans in general have been reduced to 65% to 70% loan-to-value,” Findura says. “Again, those with national credit and long-term leases receive priority treatment, better pricing and potentially higher leverage.”

The lending picture changes when it comes to industrial, however. “Industrial is a little more difficult,” concedes Findura, a mortgage banking professional for 20 years. “Rarely preleased, the project must be in a solid (and) proven location.”

Phased industrial projects “seem to be most appealing (to lenders), given their ability to create their own track record with the specific submarket,” Findura tells GlobeSt.com. “The first phase of any project will probably require more equity versus subsequent phases.”

Each product category requires a different percentage of equity from owners and developers, Findura says. For example, office/industrial requires a minimum 30% equity in the project from strong developers and good credit tenants. The retail equity minimum currently is 25% unless the borrower has national credit or particularly strong sponsorships.

On multifamily projects, lenders are asking for 20% equity on ventures that are well-conceived, well-located and are being handled by seasoned developers.

Multifamily projects remain the favorite among most lenders but only “cautiously,” Findura clarifies. “Certain severly overbuilt submarkets are off limits (as borrowing candidates), but in the case of Florida, there appears to be a limited number of class A sites that remain and which make good economic sense,” the broker tells GlobeSt.com.

“For those sites that are well-located and demonstrate a 9-3/4 plus return on cost or better, I would suggest they would be among most lenders’ favorite assets,” Findura says. “Also, older and well-located multifamily that can be rehabbed and repositioned or converted to condominiums are of interest.”

Interest rates are ranging from 5.25% to 8%. “Our lowest life company floating rates are 150 basis points over LIBOR (London interbank offered rate),” the broker says. That’s 5.25%.

“These loans can be rate-locked in the future,” Findura points out. “They are typically underwritten to an 8% constant, with a minimum 1.25 debt service average.” The lowest fixed rate loan his company has found is 185 basis points over corresponding Treasuries for high-leveraged loans (75% to 80%).

“That equates to a 10-year term loan of 7% today,” Findura says. “This rate can drop by lowering the leverage, although many lenders are incorporating floors in their loans.” Most don’t want to fall below 6.75%.

All of the permanent loans R.J. Twitty handles are non-recourse which means the borrower personally doesn’t have to repay the loan. His property is the collateral.

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