Apartment Building Financing Fundamentals

WINSTON ROWE & ASSOCIATES APARTMENT BUILDING LOANS

CRE investors new to multifamily ownership most likely want to know as much as possible about the world of financing. While each transaction is unique and underwritten on its own merits it's worth knowing that there are a few basic requirements commercial lenders use. 

The Collateral:

Believe it or not with very few exceptions lenders do not like distressed properties and REOs. These apartment buildings come with a myriad of problems such as high vacancies, management and tenants issues, title, lack of maintenance and or upgrades, local economy, and in many cases inability to service debt. As a result, hard money may be one of the very limited financing options requiring a 50% or more down payment.

For conventional transactions great emphasis is placed on the property and its condition. In case of foreclosure, the lender wants to be sure it has a marketable property. This is the reason for which the lender will typically not allow the borrower to choose the appraiser. 

The commercial appraisal is detailed and it utilizes three variables to derive the property value: income approach, replacement cost, and sales comparison method. The income approach carries the utmost important factor in determining the collateral approval. A building could be fancy, well-maintained, and in a great location, but if the income is not there to support the value the collateral does not pass the test.

The Cap Rate:

Among other factors worth mentioning are the age and condition of the property, the vacancy rate, and the area market capitalization rate. The "Cap Rate" is a ratio used to determine a property's value based on its generated income. It's computed by taking the rental net operating income (NOI) and dividing it by the property's fair market value (FMV) or sales price. 

The lender will then compare the property's Cap Rate with the general area's rate for similar properties. The red flag arises when the ratio is lower than the norm, therefore a higher cap rate is certainly desirable. Conversely, a very high ratio raises another red flag. Rest assured that an underwriter would question why a property has such a high ratio. Are there any underlying issues that could potentially affect the property in the future? Remember that an underwriter has a detective's eye; they are looking for what could go wrong before looking at the positives.

The Cash Flow & DSCR:

Cash flow plays a significant role when underwriting a multifamily loan. Within the industry the cash-flow analysis is known as the Debt Coverage Ratio ( DCR). Such ratio measures the property's net income ability to cover the annual debt service. The lender will analyze the property's rent-roll - and the financials - and determine the annual income and expenses. After that it determines if the annual cash flow can service the new debt.

The DCR is calculated by dividing the property's annual NOI by the property's projected annual debt service (based on the new loan). Annual debt service includes the principal and interest payment only. Taxes, insurance, and the rest of the expenses have already been deducted when determining the NOI. Lenders are looking to see a minimum of 1.25 ratio, meaning that for every $1 of debt service the property must generate a minimum of $1.25 in net operating income. So, let's say a building's NOI is $35,000 while the annual P&I is $27,000 (or $2,250 monthly). The resulting DCR is 1.29, a ratio within the guidelines. However, a mere increase of a half percent on the rate could bring down the ratio below 1.25 thus putting the loan in jeopardy of being denied.

Borrower Strength:

Most loans funding today are recourse loans. It means that lenders are not satisfied with the collateral only and you, as the borrower must provide a personal guarantee; which implies that your credit and financial strength will be scrutinized. Keep in mind that even if title to the property is vested in the name of a corporation, LLC, or some other form, lenders still require personal guarantees from their owners or members.

Underwriting trend is rather conservative so lenders expect you to prove a great credit history, sufficient apartment building experience, and a decent net worth with a generous amount of liquid funds. When it comes to the capital invested or equity owned most programs want to see the borrower's equity at twenty percent or more. Your net worth should look impressive. Fannie Mae, for instance, wants to see the borrower's net worth be at least the loan amount requested.

Winston Rowe & Associates has a core focus on building long-term relationships, delivering exceptional and individualized customer service, and positioning financial products that best achieve their client’s goals.  

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Comment by Winston Rowe on November 17, 2016 at 4:02pm

Buying an apartment building can be a lucrative investment, if done right. To protect yourself, perform a professional due diligence investigation.

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