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A lot of financing and refinancing strategies among CRE owners have become waiting games. Hold until interest rates eventually go down — putting off loan maturities or new purchases as much as possible — until they can get themselves out of trouble.

One of the types of tools for floating rate interest loans have been interest rate caps, which offer some protection against the increase of interest rates when some benchmark like SOFR crosses a threshold. At least until the rate cap fees started jumping in 2020 and the costs started to crush transactionsby May. Things continued to get worse by October. And then … they kept getting worse. In 2023, the rate cap cost increases were crushing even more CRE transactions.

Concerns eventually started to ease as inflation seemed to be coming under control and there was a growing thought that the Federal Reserve would start cutting rates. Three times during 2024. Granted, that three cuts of probably 25 basis points each would be less than now, but the total 75-basis point amount wouldn’t be terribly compelling.

However, the thought of future rate cuts provided hope. Not now.

“The one-month forward curve shows that investors now think the secured overnight financing rate, or SOFR, which is closely related to the federal-funds rate, will be 4.825% at the start of 2025,” the Wall Street Journal wrote. “This implies up to two small cuts this year. Back in January, six cuts were expected.”

An improvement of cap rates had begun because the risk of the provider having to cover higher interest rates looked as though it would slow and then abate. Not now, because the expectation for rate cuts is becoming more pessimistic.

“The cost of these caps has become a major headache for property owners, according to Carol Ng, a managing director at risk-management firm Derivative Logic,” the Journal wrote. “The price of a one-year extension for an interest-rate cap on a $100 million mortgage at a 3% strike rate is now $2.1 million. Back in January, when the market expected more rate cuts, the same extension cost $1.3 million.”

But there are other estimates. Chatham Financial’s interest rate cap calculator looking at 3% constant SOFR strike rate on $100 million is almost $4.61 million, making that $2.1 million estimate look good in comparison.


Source:  GlobeSt.

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The multifamily fall from grace over the last couple of years was unexpected by most at the market’s pandemic highs. The increase in interest rates have hit hard, as have some other factors.

But according to Ralph Rosenberg, partner and global head of real estate at global investment firm KKR, problematic conditions should start tapering off after 2025, leaving strong possibilities for rent growth and opportunities to “buy high-quality properties below replacement cost while achieving attractive long-term yields.”

The factors confounding multifamily certainly start with interest rates.

“Debt levels relative to equity are higher in multifamily than in some other segments, a loan maturity wall looms, and interest rate caps are expiring, putting many owners in the position of refinancing at a time when their properties are worth less than their acquisition basis and interest rates are much higher,” Rosenberg wrote.

He notes that multifamily is one of the most leveraged of CRE investments. That makes refinancing challenging. There is a loan maturity wall, reduced availability of financing, and high debt loads.

That’s only one part. As has previously reported, 2023 saw a record number of apartment unit deliveries added to inventory and 2024 is expected to top that by half again. These aren’t evenly distributed across the country, but the concentration in places even with high increases in population is still enough to depress prices, occupancy rates, and rent growth.

In addition, operational costs have increased.

“Floating-rate interest payments rose faster than income from rent and fees,” the firm said. Falling valuations aided in negatively affecting debt service coverage ratios, making many properties fiscally unsustainable to the lender. Also, utilities and property taxes have continued to climb, adding to multifamily difficulties.

“Over $250 billion in multifamily loan debt matures in 2024 alone, and some owners will face a gap upon refinancing,” they wrote. “Likewise, as interest rate caps typically last for three years, many owners are looking at a sharp increase in the cost of debt.”

KKR expects a tough couple of years in a deleveraging cycle. Owners and investors who can hold on during this period face different conditions coming out. There is the chance of lower interest rates, although the degree and pace of any reductions are up in the air now. Demand for units will grow as the rising expenses and difficulty of continuation of building make it virtually impossible to keep pace with additional units. Currently, supply growth forecasts for many metropolitan areas are below the 2018-to-2022 five-year average, and that wasn’t adequate to satisfy market needs.

Buyers with sufficient resources will find many opportunities.

“Consider what would happen to a multifamily property purchased in February 2024 at a 5.5% cap rate (a measure of the one-year yield on a property calculated by dividing NOI by asset value) with 50% leverage,” they wrote. “Assume that NOI grows at a 3% CAGR. As interest rates come down, it might be possible to sell at a cap rate of 5.0% five years later, in 2029. That equates to an internal rate of return of roughly 14.5% over five years, which is attractive for a historically stable, in-demand asset class.”


Source:  GlobeSt.

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The Mortgage Bankers Association has revised upward its estimate of debt maturing in 2024.

Because of the number of extensions and modifications that lenders have been granting borrowers in the past few years, the amount of CRE mortgages maturing this year is expected to increase from $659 billion to $929 billion.

“The lack of transactions and other activity last year, coupled with built-in extension options and lender and servicer flexibility, has meant that many loans that were set to mature in 2023 have been extended or otherwise modified and will now mature in 2024, 2026, 2028 or in other coming years,” said Jamie Woodwell, head of commercial real estate research at MBA.

This new estimate expands the universe of potential distress that could enter the market. At the same time, though, the increase in maturities this year could also have the unexpected consequence of generating more price transparency in the market. The uncertainty surrounding interest rates and questions about property values and fundamentals have led to fewer sales and financing transactions. However, the mortgages due to mature in 2024 and clarifications in other areas should help break up congestions in the markets.

The CRE loans maturing this year vary both by investor type and property type. For instance, just $28 billion, or 3 percent, of the outstanding balance of multifamily and healthcare mortgages either held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and Ginnie Mae will mature in 2024. In addition, life insurance companies will see $59 billion, 8 percent, of their outstanding mortgage balances mature in 2024. However, $441 billion, or 25 percent, of the outstanding balance of mortgages held by depositories; $234 billion, 31 percent, in CMBS, CLOs, or other ABS; and $168 billion, 36 percent, of the mortgages held by credit companies, in warehouse, or by other lenders, will mature this year.

In terms of property type, 12 percent of mortgages backed by multifamily properties will mature in 2024. Also, 17 percent of mortgages backed by retail and 18 percent backed by healthcare properties will mature this year. In addition, 25 percent of loans backed by office properties will come due in 2024. Finally, 27 percent of industrial loans and 38 percent of hotel/motel loans will mature this year, as well.


Source:  GlobeSt.


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By Ron Osborne, Managing Director

Sperry Commercial Global Affilates | RJ Realty


The decision of whether or not to sell a commercial property before a low-interest rate loan matures and needs to be refinanced at a higher interest rate is a complex financial decision that depends on various factors.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Current Market Conditions: Assess the current real estate market conditions in your area. If property values are high, it might be a good time to sell and take advantage of the equity you’ve built.


  • Equity and Profitability: Consider how much equity you have in the property and whether selling would result in a profit or capital gain. If you can make a significant profit, it might be a good time to sell.


  • Loan Terms: Review the terms of your existing loan, especially any prepayment penalties or fees associated with paying off the loan early. Factor these costs into your decision.


  • Future Interest Rates: While you expect to refinance at a higher interest rate in the future, it’s essential to consider the potential interest rate increase and its impact on your cash flow. Consult with a financial advisor or mortgage expert to understand the implications.


  • Cash Flow and Expenses: Evaluate your current cash flow and property expenses (Property Insurance is at an all time High and increasing). A higher interest rate will increase your mortgage payments, potentially affecting your property’s profitability.


  • Tax Implications: Consult with a tax advisor to understand the tax implications of selling the property, especially regarding capital gains taxes.


  • Alternative Investments: Explore other investment opportunities that might provide a better return on your investment compared to the potential future interest rate increase on your property loan. Consider a 1031 exchange with a high-quality single tenant that can afford the expenses.


  • Risk Tolerance: Assess your risk tolerance and financial stability. If you are risk-averse or concerned about potential cash flow issues with a higher interest rate, selling might be a safer option.


  • Market Predictions: Consider economic and market forecasts. If there is a strong consensus that interest rates will continue to rise significantly in the near future, it may influence your decision.

Ultimately, the decision to sell a commercial property or refinance before a low-interest rate loan matures depends on your specific financial situation (can you add equity that will be required to lower the loan amount to the lenders requirements), investment goals, and market conditions. It’s advisable to consult with financial advisors, real estate professionals, and mortgage experts to make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances.