Fannie Needs More Money. And It's Not for a Bailout.
Despite concerns about the future of DC’s apartment market, the biggest multifamily lender in the country, Fannie Mae, is making so many deals it had to ask for more money. In the first half of 2015, Fannie lent $25B of its $30B annual limit, SVP Hilary Provinse told the crowd of more than 300 at our Mid-Year Multifamily Surge event yesterday. In Q2, it paid back $4.4B to the Treasury Department, and despite its bad rap, Fannie has given back almost $40B more than it took as a bailout during the recession. The status quo will likely stay in place with the current legislative climate in DC. “As long as we’re sending $4B or $5B back to the Treasury, that’s not a problem [Congress] wants to solve,” Hilary says.
Even with all the deals getting done, there still aren’t enough properties to go around. Transwestern EVP Dean Sigmon says there have been 70 multifamily transactions in the region through June 2015, for a total of $2.4B changing hands, most of it coming from private capital. Fifteen of those properties were built in the last 15 years, Dean says, further proving that value-add properties are the hottest commodities around. Rents on Class-B buildings are up 1.7%, he says, while Class-A rents are actually down from the previous year. “Demand is tremendous,” he says, “and there is not enough supply.” Buyers are having to go off-market—inquiring about properties not even listed as for sale—and they’re doing so in big numbers. Dean brokered $500M in deals for local mogul Ralph Dweck, all of which were off-market properties.
That’s why Walker & Dunlop bought Engler Financial Group last year. “There’s a lot of demand for product,” says managing director Brendan Coleman, “so to get involved with transactions earlier is something we’re going to have to do to stay competitive.” Engler had brokered $2.2B worth of deals, and Walker & Dunlop plans to scale its new brokerage arm up.
Moderator Brad Fountain of Partner Engineering asked the capital markets panel: "What keeps you up at night?" Dean was blunt: Walker & Dunlop entering the brokerage space. (But we all know the real answer is jealousy over Brad's stylin' socks.)
But Brendan and Hunt Mortgage Group managing director Bryan Cullen have restless nights over market volatility. For lenders, locking in a long-term loan when the market can jump overnight (thanks a lot, China) is a nerve-racking proposition.
What keeps Hilary and others straddling the intersection of government and housing up at night? The answer, in a market where every new building is a trophy and every corner of the city seems ripe for redevelopment, is affordability. “We’re trying to come up with solutions,” she says. If it were up to her, Fannie Mae would finance a lot more dedicated affordable housing. But if the agency did that, it would be hard to see it pulling in $4B every quarter.