Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

[IMGCAP(1)]NEW YORK CITY-As GlobeSt.com reported last week, the tighter credit conditions have pushed many capital sources out of the market. For multifamily players, however, the go-to lenders of choice have become the government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The shift has been so great that intermediaries, and those firms approved to do agency loans, have seen their business in that segment shoot up significantly.For example: the locally-based firm Centerline Holding Co.’s pipeline of agency transactions, so far this year–both closed and in the works–is double that of the beginning few months of last year, reports William T. Hyman, Centerline’s managing director and head of agency lending. And this trend doesn’t only include those borrowers familiar with the agencies. “We are seeing deals flow from borrowers who, for the past several years, stayed away from the agencies, or had never before developed an agency relationship,” says Hyman.Hyman points to a transaction the firm recently completed in Mesa, AZ, where Centerline provided $25.2 million in financing to Tidan/USA for the acquisition of the class A, 308-unit Sun Valley Ranch Apartments through Freddie Mac’s Premier Lease-Up Program.”The borrower financed its entire acquisition pipeline through Wall Street for the past several years. Once that shut down, it quickly started to look for agency alternatives,” Hyman explains. “So we’ve seen new borrowers and we’ve had existing clients, who had begun to use Wall Street over the past few years, come back to the fold.”

Centerline has also seen more significant deals, in terms of sheer numbers, involving agency financing. In the span of a month, the locally-based company closed its largest-ever single Fannie Mae loan, and its second-largest Freddie Mac paper. In the former, the firm provided an $80-million first mortgage to help refinance Citylights at Queens Landing, a 42-story, 522-unit cooperative building in Long Island City, NY. The other loan was for the Vanguard at the Shipyard, a 196-unit community in Hoboken, NJ. The borrower obtained $60 million through Freddie Mac.

Those deals had favorable terms, Centerline reports. In fact, it’s well known that the agencies not only provide significant amounts of capital, they also offer some of the most competitive terms out there. The last deal, in Hoboken, for example, had an interest rate at well below 5%, and the borrower was able to lock in the rate under Freddie Mac’s early rate lock program. So far this year Equity Residential has taken out a $500-million credit facility at a 5.48% rate and AvalonBay Communities signed off on a $265-million paper with an interest rate of just 4.78%.

The agencies are so significant that new lenders and intermediaries are joining the ranks of those approved to do these loans, and those that have worked with the agencies previously, are bolstering their business lines. In fact, Fannie Mae DUS lenders delivered more than half of the company’s total $60 billion investment in multifamily in 2007.

[IMGCAP(2)]“Without a doubt, Fannie and Freddie, as a source of funding for multifamily mortgage, are very desirable for lenders, so we have seen lenders, who haven’t had relationships there, developing relationships there,” says Jamie Woodwell, senior director of research for commercial/multifamily for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, DC.

From Hyman’s observations, shops that traditionally focused on conduit originations are now “reprogramming” their production personnel to direct business to the agency side. Centerline itself has grown its production sales force. “We’ve looked at the current situation as a market opportunity,” he explains. “And [we] just added to our production sales force several people who come from Wall Street, but who have the ability to bring with them borrower relationships we will have access to, in order to sell the agency programs.”

Meanwhile, Wachovia Multifamily Capital Inc., this year, received fully delegated status, under the Freddie Mac Delegated Underwriting for Targeted Affordable Housing model.However, those who are becoming approved to become DUS lenders, or who are stepping up their agency business, today aren’t responding to the market dynamics. The actual process is so long, says CB Richard Ellis’ Peter Donovan, that firms becoming approved now had to have applied a considerable time ago.

The multi-housing group within CBRE’s capital markets business recently took on the Fannie Mae Delegated Underwriting and Servicing lender designation. Donovan, senior managing director of multi-housing capital markets in the firm’s Boston office, says he; CBRE capital markets president Brian Stoffers; and Ron Halpern, managing director of the multi-housing group, had been involved with Fannie Mae loans for quite a while. “We recognize that Fannie and Freddie are major sources of capital for multifamily. To really consider ourselves to be a full-service provider of capital for multifamily, we felt it was imperative for us to offer both Fannie and Freddie,” he explains, adding that the firm has also been a very active Freddie Mac producer and originator. CBRE also recently added a HUD/FHA-insured multifamily and health care mortgage-lending platform to its offerings.

[IMGCAP(3)]That the credit markets happened to turn is just a bonus, Donovan states, “Our timing happens to be fortunate,” he says. “We certainly couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen in the capital market. But under the circumstances, having Fannie, Freddie and FHA helps, and it’s probably a good time for us to be building the businesses.Until that point, CBRE had been doing Fannie Mae business as an intermediary, working with DUS lenders on a third-party basis. “The problem with that, quite frankly, is it’s difficult to compete with DUS lenders that are able to go directly to the client,” says Donovan. “We were one player removed. As a result, we didn’t do a lot of Fannie Mae business.” The firm is now part of a select group that can originate, underwrite, close and service loans without prior approval by Fannie Mae. Donovan explains that “by being a DUS lender, we’ll significantly increase the amount of production we do.”

If the CBRE’s Freddie Mac activity is any indication, it can expect to see its Fannie Mae work go up. The executive points out that the company’s Freddie business doubled in 2007, and it is on track to do at least $1 billion of volume in the first five months of this year alone, and a repeat of the $2.2 billion in annual volume it racked up last year.According to Donovan, this trend should continue for some time. “As long as you have the kind of turmoil in the market you have–CMBS that is not competitively priced and life companies that have limited allocations to the debt market for real estate–then I don’t see any reason why Fannie and Freddie shouldn’t continue to get a lion’s share of the business,’ he says.

As to the potential problems with having the agencies hold a concentration of mortgages, Donovan isn’t concerned. “I’d look at it the other way,” he states. “I can understand why some folks may be concerned, but I say, ‘Thank God Fannie and Freddie are there.’ We are in a unique position in multifamily to have a source of capital that’s able to step in and satisfy the need–and do it in a competitively priced and structured way that helps to keep the multifamily business on an even keel. I think any other product, be it office, retail or hotel, would love to have the kind of funding source we have with the agencies right now.”

Indeed, Woodwell believes that the current conditions are just a function of market cycles. “At different points in time, you’ll see different investor groups increase or decrease their relative holdings of commercial and multifamily mortgages,” he says. “In general, Fannie and Freddie have been, and continue to be, a strong source of capital for the multifamily market.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 3 free articles* across the ALM subscription network every 30 days
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


Join 1000+ of the industry's top owners, investors, developers, brokers & financiers at THE MULTIFAMILY EVENT OF THE YEAR!

Get More Information


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.