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MCLEAN, VA-Mortgage giant Freddie Mac recently bought a pool of seven mortgages from Capmark Finance Inc. worth $140 million. The loans are cross-collateralized and cross-defaulted by seven seniors housing properties–owned by the Shelter Group of Baltimore.

Combined with an undisclosed majority investment from Prudential Real Estate Investors, the debt allowed Shelter Group to recapitalize the communities, relates Mitchell Kiffe, Freddie Mac’s vice president of production and sales. The portfolio consists of 880 units–in five independent living and two assisted living properties–that operate under the Brightview brand in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia.

“We liked everything about this transaction,” says Kiffe. “We’ve done business with Prudential before. They’re a great institutional owner of real estate and they’ve got significant expertise and experience in the senior housing space. Shelter was new to us but we think they’re a very strong owner, operator and developer of seniors housing communities. So we like the sponsor and the real estate–most of it is relatively new–are quality properties in good markets. The economics were favorable.” Built between 1980 and 2006 the communities all count common dining rooms and commercial kitchens among their amenities, and most of the units have full kitchens or kitchenettes.

While negotiating the deal in the middle of a shifting capital market environment did pose a challenge, but Kiffe said that because the transaction–as with most that involve institutional players–had “modest” leverage; there was no need to alter its terms.David Carliner, Shelter Group’s executive vice president, describes the terms offered by Freddie Mac as “super competitive.” Utilizing Freddie Mac’s fixed-to-float option, the loans on the properties carry 10-year terms at a fixed rate with full-yield maintenance, followed by one year at a floating rate, related Kiffe, adding that the debt is pre-payable at par. Seven years of the term are partially interest only.

For Freddie, which is known for its business on the single-family and traditional multifamily front, this is another step into its expansion into the seniors housing space. “The seniors housing market is growing by leaps and bounds,” says Kiffe. Last year, the firm completed $1-billion worth of seniors housing deals, and the year before, about $1.5 billion, he reveals. “It is an attractive segment of the multifamily mortgage market, and we are trying to grow that business.”

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