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Retail Financing Trends: What to Look for in 2019

By Patrick Ward, MetroGroup Realty Finance

Q: What is the current climate for retails deals? Are you seeing a healthy appetite or interest from debt capital sources for retail properties?
A:
We are seeing a continued appetite of capital for financing retail properties. However, I would be careful to call it “healthy.” All of the lenders we work with continue to provide financing for the retail asset class and size that they always have in the past. There is no dramatic policy change or prohibitions on the various classes of retail properties they are financing today. However, they are clearly more diligent in their underwriting and analysis. The only asset class that is very difficult to finance is the older, traditional indoor-malls in smaller markets. Historically, these malls have been occupied by the second tier of retail users, and if the sales of in-line stores are not in the $500-per-square-foot per-year range, they are very difficult to finance today.

What is new to the market is in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) world. Sponsors of mortgage pools are putting a 30% limit of the retail class of asset in the pool. We don’t see this as dramatically limiting availability of funds for retail properties – only allocation discipline in the CMBS space.

Another interesting trend is the more favorable treatment of unanchored service retail centers. What in the past was considered a secondary source of security for real estate lending has now, as a result of the e-commerce effect, become more favorable and more desirable collateral. These centers are historically occupied by the service sectors: personal care, tailors, local ethnic food, insurance, real estate etc.

Q: What should retail owners focus on to secure financing today in Southern California?
A:
Owners and potential buyers have obviously been sensitive to the effects of e-commerce on retail properties. Properties with good demographics have adjusted well to the transition. Prudent owners are looking to more than income in their demographic studies, they are emphasizing age, spending and dining tendencies.

Q: What is your expectation for retail financing activity this year in Southern California? What will be the biggest challenges for retail investors this year?
A:
All of the lenders that we represent and work with, which includes all sectors of the real estate finance industry, including life insurance companies, national banks, regional banks, CMBS, Credit Unions and debt funds, all have ambitious allocations and budgets for 2019. The major metropolitan areas in the U.S., including Southern California, are fortunate to have an abundance of capital sources available to access. Existing owners and perspective buyers will continue to have multiple attractive options and sources of capital for their commercial properties. These include long-term attractive fixed rate options from the life insurance and CMBS sources, to more flexible, short-term loans from the banks, credit unions and debt funds.

The biggest challenge we see for investors in the retail asset class in 2019 is the availability of good quality properties for sale. The historical run-up in values, coupled with investors’ concern about rising interest rates, could create challenges. Sellers and buyers may see a difference in 2019. What we have seen in our 35 years of providing capital for investment real estate is that cap rates move to neutral leverage – that is to say cap rates are at a similar level as a 30-year mortgage loan constant. So the cash-on-cash return remains equal to the cap rate.

For example:
– 4% 30-year amortization equals .0573% loan constant.
– 5% 30-year amortization equals .0643% loan constant.

So, we may see an upward adjustment of cap rates, therefore pricing, as a result of the anticipation of rising interest rates.


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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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