Apartment Building Loan Rates Fall as Spreads Narrow

Back on June 24th I wrote a post Analysis on Tapering QE3 talking about how traders fears about the end of the Fed’s money printing spree made the interest rate on the 10 year Treasury jump. And as I mentioned in a follow up post Update on the 10yr Treasury rate we care about the 10yr Treasury (or T10) because it’s the benchmark most lenders base long term loan rates on. But there is one more component of apartment loan rates (and lending rates in general) that I want to draw your attention to. First an updated chart:

Treasury Rates and Apartment Building Loans

I’ve updated the chart with the latest rates and also added the rate for an apartment loan with a fixed rate for 10 years from one of our lenders (details on the loan terms below). The other thing I added was the spread, or difference, between the two rates (on the Right Hand Scale).  So far in 2013 the spread has averaged 2.65% or 265 basis points (bp) but it’s not a fixed amount that the lender adds to the T10. You can see that back in the beginning of May when the Treasury rate got as low as 1.66% the spread widened to 280bp because the loan rate was left at 4.5%. Then the spread narrowed back towards the average even while interest rates went up from there.

Then the Fed meeting notes came out in the middle of June and the T10 shot up but we got a double dose because the spread jumped up too. The Treasury went from 2.19% on the 17th to 2.57% on the 24th, and the spread jumped from 262pb to 283. It makes sense that in the uncertainty of a sudden rise in rates that lenders would widen their spreads to create a little breathing room but since then things have gotten quite interesting… in a good way. The good news is that since then the spread has dropped rapidly to only 235bp, by far the lowest this year. Granted at 4.85% rates are still higher than they were before the middle of May but if we still had the average spread they would over five percent at 5.125%.

Why did the spread narrow? Did lenders suddenly find new efficiencies in their operations? Did they develop a soft spot for apartment investors? Do they need the business? My guess is that loan apps have dropped off but more importantly they see interest rates stabilizing or moderating from here. And that’s good for apartment building investors in acquisition mode.

One very important thing to remember is that on a historical basis, apartment loan rates are still very low. On the Dupre+Scott chart below I’ve added the colored lines at 10, 8, 6 and 4% for easy reference, I don’t think many apartment investors still have their loans from the eighties or nineties.

Apartment Building Investment Loan Rates 1979-2012
Source: www.duprescott.com Average rates for actual apartment building acquisition loans. Note that these are a mixture of variable rates, fixed rates, assumptions, seller financing, and a combination of short and long term loans.

Tune in next week for another thrilling episode of: ‘As Rates Fluctuate’.

Notes about the apartment loan rates shown in the first chart above: The rates shown here are from one West Coast regional lender for loans on existing apartment buildings between $2.5 – 5.0M. The rate quote they send every Monday that I track is a 30 year amortizing loan with a fixed rate for 10 years (They also have shorter fixed periods at lower rates). The max LTV for this loan is 75% (they have an even lower rate on their max 60LTV loans) and the minimum Debt Cover Ratio (DCR, aka DSR or DSCR) is 120. Note too that these are ‘sticker’ rates, LTVs and DCRs and ‘your millage may vary’ depending on how the underwriting goes.  I usually figure that we’ll end up at a 70LTV which also helps the debt cover and provides a larger margin of safety, which is half the battle from a value investing standpoint.

The prepay fee is 5,4,3,2,1% for early repayment in the first five years and you do have the ability to get a 90 day rate lock. The minimum loan is $500k and they’re pretty good to work with as long as you go in knowing that it takes up to 60 days to close their loan. If you are looking at acquiring an apartment building in California, Oregon or Washington I’d be happy to recommend you to my guy there for a quote. Send me a message through this link and I’ll get you connected.

2 thoughts on “Apartment Building Loan Rates Fall as Spreads Narrow”

  1. As a real estate investor, I am always glad to see the rates come in favor of the borrower, it is nice to have a little control, especially considering how the past 6 years have gone.

    Thanks for the post and let’s keep the apps down and the rates in our favor!

    1. Travis, just got the new rates yesterday and the T10 has bounced and spreads have widened a bit (still below average). Historically still good though. What kind of real estate are you investing in?

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