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Do Lenders Fear Student Housing Overbuilding?

If you want to start a student housing project, you’d better get started because construction loans may become more challenging. (Your grandma will still loan you money, but it's hard to develop properties with $5 bills stuffed into Hallmark cards.)

HFF director Adam Herrin (here with son Lane) cautions that new construction loans may become less prominent because lenders are afraid of overbuilding. Permanent loans are easier to get that construction loans, so Adam thinks 2015 will be a year of sales, as many of the properties built in the past few years trade hands.

Walker & Dunlop managing director Stephen Farnsworth says new construction loans are more difficult to get because lenders want to be sure the developer and operator have experience in the student housing market. It’s easier in bigger markets with similar properties to compare operation variables or with an operator with a portfolio of similar assets. That track record can play a big role, Stephen says.

Despite the challenging lending market, Adam and colleague Charles Halladay just arranged a $41M financing for a CalState San Bernardino project for a venture between University Park Promenade & Shops (an affiliate of J.R. Watson & Associates) and Capstone Development Partners. Bank of the Ozarks provided a three-year, floating-rate construction loan for the project, The Glen at University Park. It’s a 520-bed student housing development that will serve CalState San Bernardino. Adam tells us there’s currently no other new quality housing in the San Bernardino market. This project – slated to open in September – is directly across from the main entrance of the university. This project is the final phase of a 132-acre master-planned community that started in '03.