There are other worrisome signs that liquidity may be starting to tighten for CRE borrowers.
The last time Mark Scott, president of Commercial Mortgage Capital, remembers a lender invoking the Material Adverse Change, or MAC, clause in a deal was during the Great Recession. Now, he’s hearing it more and more in conversations with capital providers. “I’ve had lenders email me and say the market is experiencing a MAC and we are now raising the rate on your loan from 3.5% to 4.5%,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “It is definitely being invoked more now.”
There are other changes in the commercial real estate lending market that Scott says do not bode well for borrowers, or for liquidity in general. Regional banks are no longer locking or committing to rates. Many have shuttered new originations, and several are reneging on term sheets and threatening to not honor commitments and /or re-trade and adjust previously agreed upon rates. Loans that used to be placed rather easily, say 60% LTV multifamily loans, are getting fewer bids. “I’ve had several lenders tell me they have too much exposure to commercial real estate and multifamily and they are exiting the market,” Scott says.
To be sure, Scott is just one individual and even he says he is not talking about a mass exodus. But given where he sits—which is squarely in the middle of the commercial real estate market—his recent experiences are worrisome. Commercial Mortgage Capital provides loans between half a million to $300 million with an average loan size of around $30 million. Scott works with local, regional and national banks in addition to life insurance companies, debt funds and other sources of real estate capital. And examples of lenders exiting the market among this group abound, he says.
The source of this angst, of course, are the rising interest rates and the knock-on effect that is having on Treasury rates. On Jan. 1, the Treasury rate was 1.52%. On Wednesday of this week, it was 3.03%. A 151-basis point increase in less than half of a year is a big shock to the system, Scott says. “That is why lenders don’t want to lock in rates anymore. Instead, they are waiting five days before closing to lock in the rate, which means the borrower has no idea what rate it will get.” And with less lenders in the market, spreads are widening, increasing costs even more.
Basically, commercial real estate is no longer a pretty word anymore among the lender community, Scott says. “Six months ago, it was.”