Apartment Loan Spread Spikes as Rate Flatlines In Face of Falling Treasuries

Once again apartment building investment loan rates have hit the hard boundary of 4.5% even while the 10yr Treasury (T10) falls back below 2% for the first time since May 2013. This is causing the 120 day average spread to begin bending upwards. Currently it’s 2.178% on the back of a 2.46% weekly spread as of Monday when the T10 was passing through 2.04% on its way to 1.96% yesterday:

Apartment Building Investment Loan Rates vs 10 year Treasury
Click on image for full size.

The ULI <60 LTV rate has been bouncing in the 3.5-3.6% range but that’s a function of it being quoted on a spread basis and the only change there since the middle of November was when it dropped 1 basis point (1bp) in the middle of December; chalk it up to holiday season hibernation.

It really looks like The Great Columbus Day Apartment Loan Rate Massacre was the opportunity to get a rate below 4-1/2% on a 30 year apartment loan with a 10 year fixed rate. In fact we’re about right back where we were two years ago when we first started tracking these rates:

Apartment Building Investment Loan Rates Since January 2013
Click on image for full size.

You can see on the longer term chart that we’ve been tracking the 15 year loan (with 15 year amortization) and it’s also flatlined lately at 4.5, when it had typically been offered at a few bp lower than the 10yr fixed loan. Because they track so closely we’ve left it off the 12 month chart until it diverges materially.

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 (Note that on the longer chart the spread average is building out its 120 day term in the first six months so it’s average is not true until June 2013).

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. Note that Stephen Blank, my source at the ULI retired at year end. Happy retirement to you Steve! Hopefully we’ll continue to get the updated Trepp info from his replacement but no word yet who that will be.

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!

2 thoughts on “Apartment Loan Spread Spikes as Rate Flatlines In Face of Falling Treasuries”

    1. Joe, I’ve run out of ideas about trying to predict where interest rates will go because every time I thought they couldn’t go any lower, they did. The 10yr US Treasury was at 1.83 yesterday, 26 basis points above its lowest ever in history which was 1.57 in 2012 (See a chart of the US 10yr Treasury since 1790). Everyone seems to think rates ‘must’ be going up but see my August 9th piece 10yr Apartment Investment Loan Rate Steady While ULI <60LTV Rate Drifts Lower about why we in the US and now Europe too may be ‘turning Japanese’.

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