Spreads Widen on 10 Year Apartment Investment Loan Rate, Trend or Seasonal?

The 10 year apartment building investment loan rate we track has returned to its old boundary of four and a half percent despite Treasuries in the two and teens again at the end of November. On the 28th the T10 was within 1pb of the mid-October Massacre low of 2.17. Something had to give for the loan rate to get back to the 4.5% range and it was the spread which jumped above 2.25 last week for the first time since February:

Apartment Building Investment Loan Rates vs Treasuries Yield Premium

The spread has gone from the Massacre low of 1.93 to 2.28, a 35bp climb in only seven weeks. Meanwhile the ULI <60%LTV last week was 3bps below its mid-October low, tracking the Treasury with a consistent spread of 1.38 in four of the last five weeks.

It’s interesting that the spread plunged below 2% at the same time the T10 was falling back to levels not seen since May of 2013 but more pressing is why the spread has been widening the last several weeks. Is just the year end, a time to get business wrapped up, AKA don’t bother us with new loan requests while we’re trying to lock in our bonuses for this year? Or is it really just the old 4.5% is the lowest we’ll go no matter what Treasuries do coming back into play after a momentary lapse?

With the Euro and Yen falling Treasuries are very attractive and are likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future, meaning the T10 could be hanging around in the low 2s for a while. In Jan. 2013 the loan rate was 4.5 and the spread was 30 basis points higher than today and got as wide as 2.8% in the end of April that year while the Treasury got all the way down to 1.7% so my thinking is it’s the boundary not seasonal.

Speaking of the spread between the T10 and the apartment building rate we track, the green line on the chart represents the six months trailing average spread. We track changes in the trend for signs apartment lenders becoming more or less competitive. Note that since rates are only quoted on business days the chart averages the last 120 business days which roughly equates to six calendar months.

We track the 10 year Treasury (T10) because that is the benchmark most lenders base their long term rates on. In order to lure investors away from Treasuries to buy mortgage bonds lenders have to offer a premium (AKA ‘spread’) over what can be earned on the Treasury. So when the T10 moves, rates on all kinds of longer term loans including on apartments tend to move also. As you can see in the chart, the spread also widens and narrows as market forces make an impact.

Notes about the apartment loan rates shown in the 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 other fixed periods at different 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 their underwriting develops.  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 (at a slightly higher rate for less than $1M loans) 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 make an introduction for you.

The other rate we track is the from the Trepp survey which the ULI (Urban Land Institute) reports on. According to the ULI the Trepp rate is what large institutional borrowers could expect to pay on a 10 year fixed rate, less than 60% LTV loan for a “crème de la crème” core property located in a gateway market. We track this rate as a barometer of what the largest lenders are offering their best customers on the most secure loans for any advanced warning about future rate and spread changes. Note that the spread we chart is between 10yr loan we track and the T10.

How the St. Louis Fed calculates the 10 year Treasury rate displayed above: “Treasury Yield Curve Rates. These rates are commonly referred to as “Constant Maturity Treasury” rates, or CMTs. Yields are interpolated by the Treasury from the daily yield curve. This curve, which relates the yield on a security to its time to maturity is based on the closing market bid yields on actively traded Treasury securities in the over-the-counter market. These market yields are calculated from composites of quotations obtained by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The yield values are read from the yield curve at fixed maturities, currently 1, 3 and 6 months and 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 20, and 30 years. This method provides a yield for a 10 year maturity, for example, even if no outstanding security has exactly 10 years remaining to maturity. For even more detail see: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/yieldmethod.aspx

As a reminder, one basis point or 1bp is equal to one-one hundredth of one percent or .0001. When you hear ‘fifty basis points’ that’s one-half of one percent; ‘125bp’ would be 1.25% or a percent and a quarter, sometimes referred to as ‘a point and a quarter’. A bp seems like a tiny number, too fine to make a difference but in the debt world if you can squeak out an extra 20bp on a 100 million dollar deal (like a pool of apartment building loans) that’s $200,000.00 in your pocket. To paraphrase Everett Dirksen: 20bp here, 20bp there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. If you did that every week for a year that would be $10,000,000 and you’d still have two weeks for vacation!

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