Is Debt Doable?
Be prepared for some heavy scrutiny. No, not because you're visiting your mother-in-law this summer. We mean if you want a loan, your past will get picked over, according to panelists at Bisnow's fifth annual Atlanta Capital Markets Summit last week.
It all comes down to trusting whom you're in bed with—a recession lesson—our debt panel told the crowd of 250 at the St. Regis Hotel. (We spot only one empty chair... perhaps someone who was still in said bed?)
Wells Fargo's Melissa Frawley said that her bank recognizes that everyone who was in real estate during 2008 and 2009 was impacted and that deals weren't performing. "What's really important to us is how they behaved,” she says. (The Austin Powers Theory of Debt.) That means Wells Fargo is doing due diligence on borrowers, with references and all. To her right is Arnall Golden Gregory's Mindy Planer, who moderated.
That philosophy was shared by State Bank & Trust's Brad Watkins (left, with Northwestern Mutual's Henry Lange), who says banks were hit just as hard as developers in the crash: "Bad things happen to good people.” Underwriting has also loosened up a bit, especially as tons of capital compete for a constrained supply of potential projects, Henry says. “But you do sometimes scratch your head and wonder if people kind of forgot the last cycle.” (We try to forget 2008 for The Love Guru, but sometimes there's collateral forgetting.)
VOYA Financial's Jason Tessler says the CMBS market is showing signs of less stringent lending standards as institutional money competes with more liquid banks. In 2012, he says 10% of securitized loans had an interest-only component. By 2013, that was 30%. Today? Some 75%, and even 30% of those are full-term, IO loans.
The burgeoning pipeline of new apartment units—including the most recent announcement of Domain at Phipps (here)—isn't deterring VOYA Financial from lending, Jason says. In fact, it would prefer the multifamily deals over office because there's probably more opportunity for value-add, he says. Atlanta is earlier in its multifamily recovery than some other places, such as Colorado, which he says is "grossly overbuilt."
Both Henry and Melissa think there's particular opportunity in industrial for debt. Northwestern just joined a JV for a spec warehouse near Hartsfield Jackson. “We think that the industrial market has some legs going forward,” he says. Stay tuned tomorrow for more coverage from our event.