Commercial Real Estate Debt: The Song Remains the Same

Borrowers continue to benefit from low interest rates and an abundance of capital, but values may be coming down.

August 23, 2018


This Commercial Real Estate Debt sector report is excerpted from the Third Quarter 2018 Fixed-Income Outlook.

Borrowers have enjoyed a potent combination of low interest rates, an abundance of capital, and fewer deals for lenders to quote, dynamics that should hold for the rest of the year. Lenders have been aggressive throughout the capital stack, especially in the bridge and value-add space. Private funds continue to dominate, and properties with a reasonable chance of succeeding as bridge loans receive numerous quotes on a Libor float basis. Underwriting and pricing are working in the borrowers’ favor as lenders fight for yield in a crowded market. Construction lending has seen less competition due to regulations imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, but with the recent partial rollback of this legislation, regional and smaller banks can now compete more aggressively for construction and bridge loans, benefiting borrowers and significantly increasing year-over-year bank originations. CMBS lending was up by 13 percent in the first half of 2018, and Agencies are on pace for another strong year, albeit less than 2017’s record.

Capital markets are providing increased leverage at better pricing than at any point since the last recession, but there are clouds on the horizon for borrowers. Sales have continued to drop since 2015’s peak, and are down around 2 percent year to date from this time last year. Single asset sales dropped 20 percent in May and 12 percent in June on a year over year basis, and investors are concerned about the slowing growth in net operating income. This has led to slightly higher cap rates for the first half of 2018, and other than  the industrial sector, valuations have hit their peak for this cycle.

With strong domestic economic growth, our Macroeconomic and Investment Research Group believes the Fed will raise the fed funds rate two more times in 2018. This continued tightening has increased Libor rates to above 2 percent, benefitting lenders providing floating-rate products with rates tied to Libor. Treasurys have struggled to break through the 3 percent yield mark for the 10-year note, and with fixed-rate spreads on stabilized properties in the 140–170 basis point range, coupons are still well below 5 percent. With five-year Treasury yields just 12 basis points below 10-year yields, we view five- and seven-year term loans and three- to five-year fixed-rate bridge products as a way to differentiate from the large universe of Libor float bridge lenders.

Sales Are on a Downward Trend from 2015’s Peak

Monthly Sales Transaction Volume

Capital markets are providing increased leverage at better pricing than at any point since the last recession, but there are clouds on the horizon for borrowers by year end. Sales have continued to drop since 2015’s peak, and are down around 2 percent year to date from this time last year.

Sales Are on a Downward Trend from 2015’s Peak

Source: Real Capital Analytics, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 5.31.2018.

Concern Grows as NOI Growth Slows

Fourth Quarter Rolling Net Operating Income Growth by Property Type

Investors are concerned about the slowing growth in net operating income. This has led to slightly higher cap rates for the first half of 2018, and values have hit their peak for this cycle.

Concern Grows as NOI Growth Slows

Source: NCREIF, Morgan Stanley Research. Data as of 1Q2018.

—William Bennett, Managing Director; Ted Jung, Director

 
Important Notices and Disclosures

This article is distributed for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investing advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. It contains opinions of the authors but not necessarily those of Guggenheim Partners or its subsidiaries. The authors’ opinions are subject to change without notice. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not assured as to accuracy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Investing involves risk. In general, the value of fixed-income securities fall when interest rates rise. High-yield securities present more liquidity and credit risk than investment grade bonds and may be subject to greater volatility. Asset-backed securities, including mortgage-backed securities, may have structures that make their reaction to interest rates and other factors difficult to predict, making their prices volatile and they are subject to liquidity risk. Investments in floating rate senior secured syndicated bank loans and other floating rate securities involve special types of risks, including credit risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and prepayment risk. Guggenheim Investments represents the following affiliated investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC: Guggenheim Partners Investment Management, LLC, Security Investors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Investment Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC, Guggenheim Real Estate, LLC, GS GAMMA Advisors, LLC, Guggenheim Partners Europe Limited, and Guggenheim Partners India Management. ©2018, Guggenheim Partners, LLC. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission of Guggenheim Partners, LLC.


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