DALLAS-Be patient and be specific were the two main pieces of advice offered by round-table participants to attendees at the first “How to Navigate the Capital Markets Storm with Agency Lending. Presented on June 10 at the Westin Galleria here by Uniondale, NY-based Arbor Commercial Mortgage LLC and RealShare Conference Series, the three-hour event focused on how attendees could obtain debt from agency lenders.

With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac taking the lion’s share of loans from CMBS, roundtable participants, moderated by Joseph Donovan, Senior Vice President of Production Management for Arbor suggested stronger relationships be developed with equity partners, with those partnerships presented to the lender. Also suggested was building more time into the deal process, from escrow to close.

Brian O’Boyle, founder and managing broker of Apartment Realty Advisors’ Dallas office said the time requirement is especially true when it comes to loan assumptions. He pointed out that the 60-day assumption turnaround is a thing of the past, with most assumptions taking between 90 and 120 days. In response, buyers are asking for more extension rights to be built into their contracts.

Diane Butler, senior vice president, general manager, with Land America Valuation Corp.’s local office said lenders tend to look favorably on a property with a good track record, a sound owner and stabilization. But she and the other experts said it’s supremely important to make sure the lenders have all the information, no matter how dire, up front. “We need good, solid explanations for any irregularities,” she explained. “Make sure all your ducks are in a row before you come see us.”

Also important, said Wendy Stamnas, is to ensure the lender understands up-front goals. “The clearer the application, the fewer questions we have, and the easier it is for us to get the paperwork through,” said Stamnas, who is Arbor Capital’s FHA chief underwriter.

The experts also suggested realism in working with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. Michael Brandenberger, owner of Dallas-based D4 Development Services said a viable borrower is one with the right site for the right product in the right market, especially as it pertains to loans backed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Getting through the HUD process isn’t as hard as people might tell you it is,” Brandenberger noted. “But the key is to get it right the first time.”

Another frequent topic discussed was how Texas has weathered the sub-prime fallout that has hit so many other states and markets. “In Texas, the housing boom didn’t result in an oversupply of homes as it did in other markets,” commented chief economist Sam Chandon with REIS Inc. in New York City during his opening remarks. “But we’ll have to watch that because of what’s in the pipeline.”

Chandon added that Texas is also benefiting from a lack of a shadow condominium market. As a result, “multifamily investments are strong,” he said.

The good news is that the downturn isn’t going to last forever. The credit markets will right themselves–eventually. Chandon said not much will change with the economy in 2008, 2009 will start some slow growth with the economy likely to gain speed in 2010. “The medium-term outlook is positive, but everyone needs to be patient,” he added.

Bernard Malone, founder and former president of Dallas-based Malone Mortgage Co. noted that, in the interim, the agencies have plenty of capacity and are prepared to work with borrowers in the right situation. “The deal needs to be strong, but once they have a logical deal, there’s no problem with FHA or the others funding it,” he said.

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