CMP interviews Michel Durand on “How to survive in Today’s Bleak Commercial Lending Space”

Michel Durand, CEO of Mortgage Alliance Commercial, says that he’s been able to use his trusted position amongst prospects, clients, and lenders to broker a record number of deals in the wake of the pandemic. He says that current market conditions are shaped more by anxiety than the real impacts of the pandemic.

Despite bleak headlines and dire, COVID-coloured predictions for the commercial lending industry, one commercial broker says his firm is having a banner year.

They’re coming, though, and Durand is ready for them.

“When the real estate market does well, we do well, when the real estate market is in turmoil, we do better,” Durand says, noting that many commercial mortgage holders still need their mortgages renegotiated. Now, with underwriting rules and market outlooks changing, it’s harder for those borrowers to conduct and complete that renegotiation or secure new loans. That’s why so many are turning to Durand, he says, to broker the deals they need completed.

COVID-19 still a disruptor

While the volume of business has increased for Durand, he says the work is becoming more challenging than ever. Much of that is due to the decision by many commercial lenders at the end of March to completely stop their lending programs for commercial transactions, both because of the pandemic’s undermining of whole swathes of the commercial real estate market and because of the sheer number of deferral requests.

With the pipeline narrowing, Durand says he’s relied on the strength of his relationships with lenders who, he says, hold him in high esteem and will chose him and his clients for the limited number of commercial deals they’re still making. He says that in a market defined by confidence, a reputation that can only be built over decades is golden.

From a wider commercial lending perspective, he says the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has helped buck up some confidence in the market and “cushion” the impact of the pandemic on the commercial lending space. He says, though, that the ticking clock on a program like CECRA points to a longer-term challenge in the commercial lending space: what will happen when things get worse?

While Durand expects the full impacts of the pandemic to be felt in the commercial lending space in the coming months, he also expects that the mortgage industry as a whole will adapt to a worsening situation. He says that the lending industry tends to react quickly to changing circumstances and that brokers must act accordingly. When things fly out of brokers’ hands, and circumstance sets the tone, he says brokers need to stay on top of their clients. In March, he immediately worked with his clients to ensure their filings and documents were all in their best working order, submitted, and on the lenders’ “front burner”. These clients were the top priority for lenders when they opened the tap again.

Proactivity and education have become watchwords in the commercial space, Durand says. Now he’s addressing mortgage renegotiations due in six months or a year to make sure clients are taken care of before the situation worsens. He’s preparing clients for the eventuality of a weakened economy or second wave of COVID-19 and getting them ready for stingy lending driven by more conservative underwriting rules.

Durand says he’s preparing his business to weather any new storms that may be brewing, putting him in a position to act on every opportunity that arises.

“In every situation like this, and I’ve been doing this for 27 years, it’s not the end of the world,” Durand says. “We’re all going to get through it and opportunities are going to arise. If you focus on that, knowing that you’re going to get through it, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but you’re going to get through it and there will be opportunities. All of a sudden, it doesn’t hurt so much. All of a sudden, it’s easier to handle.”

by David Kitai 31 Jul 2020,  MORTGAGE BROKER NEWS

Commercial sector to become more valuable after COVID-19 – CBRE

Acquisition of expansive properties has fallen to the wayside, but commercial real estate is poised to become an even more desirable choice for investment after the coronavirus pandemic, according to CBRE.

This will be particularly apparent in Toronto, CBRE’s recently released “Q1 2020 Canadian Cap Rates & Investment Insights” document reported.

“With internal operational issues consuming 100% of many firms’ time, new investment decisions have become secondary for the time being,” CBRE said. “Term, covenant and existing financing have become increasingly important across asset classes. These factors will continue to enhance or eliminate liquidity for firms moving forward.

“With risk-free interest rates approaching zero, the real estate sector is poised to be an even more attractive investment option once the markets begin to normalize,” CBRE said.

The Canadian office market is ideally placed to exhibit some of the better performances this year.

“After a strong 2019, the office sector had built considerable momentum going into 2020 and was on track to see robust investment activity prior to the market shutdown brought on by COVID-19,” CBRE said. “Given the strength of office fundamentals entering the slowdown, it’s expected that the asset class will be on solid footing when the economy begins to re-open later in 2020.”

Industrial real estate will also prove resilient against the worst economic effects of the current crisis.

“It’s expected that the implementation of social distancing and quarantine measures should increase demand for ecommerce offerings over the remainder of 2020,” CBRE said. “The critical role of industrial assets in omnichannel and global supply chains is only forecast to increase and will ensure the sector remains well supported by strong fundamentals, especially on a relative basis.”

Mortgage Broker News
by Ephraim Vecina
22 Apr 2020

Former niche CRE investment is now big business

Commercial real estate is frequently influenced by changes in the wider business world and one big change is driving interest in a formerly niche asset class.

Data centres are now a cornerstone of business and $100 billion has flowed into the asset class in the last decade according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield.

These centres include those operated by the technology behemoths who dominate in the cloud platforms, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. These three companies have impacted data centre sizing tenfold. The 10-megawatt (MW) data center that was impressive 10 years ago now pales in comparison to 30-MW leases now signed with increasing regularity.

“The speed with which the industry is shifting makes the creation of a data center strategy a complex and daunting task,” said Dave Fanning, Executive Managing Director and Leader or Cushman & Wakefield’s Data Center Advisory Group. “Investors must be able to assess the long-term potential of a data centre to hold its value and how easily it can be upgraded. All involved require access to capital and a clear understanding of objectives.”

Vancouver challenging the leaders
Ten cities maintain their statuses among the top 10 for data centres – Northern Virginia, Silicon Valley, Dallas, Chicago, New York/New Jersey, Singapore, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Seattle and London – but Vancouver is one of those named by the firm as a contender.

“The top markets provide the greatest number of options to the greatest number of perspectives,” said Kevin Imboden, Director of Research for Cushman & Wakefield’s Data Center Advisory Group. “While one size sometimes does fit all, for certain specializations it’s important to review and understand the factors most important to the specific requirement and aim accordingly. Combined with those markets that have been overlooked and underutilized, there is great potential for niche development and secondary markets across the globe.”

 

by Steve Randall on January 30 Jan 2020

Canadian CRE set to perform well overall in 2020

This year should be a good one for Canada’s commercial real estate sector with overall strong performance.

The 2020 Commercial Real Estate Sentiment Survey from Devencore and Transwestern Commercial Services surveyed brokers and analysts across 43 North American offices to gain insights for the Canadian and US markets in 2020.

South of the border, there is some concern regarding political outcomes, especially the presidential election; but overall expectation is positive driven by the e-commerce industry’s demand for industrial space.

There is also expectation that medical offices will help the office sector in the US to outperform the market.

Meanwhile, offices are expected to perform well in Canada with just over half of respondents predict leasing velocity and tenant prospects will pick up during 2020, with 86% expecting stronger rent growth over the year, especially in industries such as tech and the service sector.

“Similar to the U.S., Canadian commercial real estate markets also are expected to perform well in 2020, with mild concerns stemming from political and trade impacts as well as rising construction costs,” said Jean Laurin, President and CEO of Devencore. “Our economy is healthy and job growth is steady. With the exception of certain regions, major Canadian provinces like Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec all show robust conditions.”

For the industrial sector, Quebec and Ontario residents are renewing amid tight availability, while those in Alberta have more choice and are choosing quality. However, 64% of respondents expect overall industrial asking rents to rise due to limited availability in select markets.

Land costs are also expected to rise as the availability of prime sites continues to decrease. In this environment, the attraction for industrial investment by the capital markets remains high.

 

by Steve Randall  13 Jan 2020

Canadian commercial investment should begin looking further

Would-be investors in Canadian commercial real estate should begin considering markets beyond the usual hotspots of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver if recent trends south of the border are any indication.

The tech industry’s sustained hunger for Canadian offices is gradually depleting available urban office space. The examples set by some U.S. cities might provide a good answer to this quandary, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

“Something like a Charlotte, or a Kansas City, or an Austin,” CompTIA senior vice-president of research and market intelligence Tim Herbert told Postmedia in an interview.

“These cities [are] more affordable, [and] in some cases you can make an argument that there is a better quality of life.”

In its Cyberprovinces 2019 study, CompTIA noted that smaller cities can become more feasible investment options in the very near future. Last year alone, Canadian tech employment expanded by 61,000 new jobs, amounting to a 3.8% annual increase.

Overall, the tech workforce grew by as much as 249,000 new employees since 2010.

Herbert added that demand for Canada’s office spaces is “not just limited to technology companies, who are starting to take office space or build new headquarters, but a range of different company types are attracting tech talent.”

Data from Avison Young showed that the Canadian office market has seen the positive absorption of 9 million square feet (MSF) in the year ending June 30, 2019. This has massively outstripped the nearly 6 MSF absorption during the immediately preceding 12-month period.

The sustained popularity of the industry and the resulting demand upon Canada’s commercial real estate is impelled by the strength of its long-term employment prospects. In 2018, tech earnings clocked in an average of $78,070 – fully 51% higher than the average reading of $51,794 in the private sector.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage.

 

 

by Ephraim Vecina | 24 Oct 2019

Why CRE investors should consider niche assets

Investors in commercial real estate should consider more than the mainstream asset classes and go niche.

That’s the takeaway from a new report from global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield that highlights the benefits of investing in niche assets.

These assets include cold storage, data centers, medical offices, student housing, and senior housing.

The report says that transactions in niche assets have exploded in recent years and are now similar to retail and industrial. And changes in how we live and the aging population is set to drive volumes higher.

Niche assets have also outperformed the overall CRE benchmark in the two most recent recessions, suggesting that this could provide defensive exposure in future downturns.

Investors also gain exposure to secular drivers such as changes in demographics, affordable housing challenges, technology, and consumer behavior.

Complex operations
The report notes that institutional activity in niche assets could have room to expand from its current uneven pattern, which would “support pricing and liquidity in a virtuous cycle.”

However, it’s suggested that investors might be better buying an experienced operator in a niche or partnering with one, as niche asset strategies are “often operationally complex.”

By Steve Randall | last updated on the 22 Oct 2019

Why use Mortgage alliance Commercial

Top 5 Reasons to Use Mortgage Alliance Commercial Canada (MACC)

 

  1. MACC is Licensed across Canada with offices in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and BC
  2. MACC has maintained privileged relationships with all major lenders across the country to allow our clients to access better terms and conditions for their financing needs
  3. MACC simplifies and manage the entire process of any lending transaction from pre-screening requirements and options; completing loan underwriting and lender negotiations, through to the disbursement requirements, to ensure successful completion and funding.
  4. MACC is an approved CMHC correspondent and experienced in preparing and presenting applications directly to CMHC for underwriting and approval. This provides access to preferred rates and terms, and higher loan to value ratios. This includes multi-unit rentals, mixed-use, purchases and refinances. We pre-screen deals to determine potential loan amount available based on property information provided such as rent roll, and statement of income and expenses.
  5. MACC has over 20 years’ experience in the commercial broker industry and a significant track record in deal success covering all commercial industries. We are well-positioned to guide clients through the most complex transactions and obtain the best options in the market. See our website for just a few of the projects completed.  https://macommercial.ca/projects/

 

 

 

Marion Cook  | November 2018

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$70.8 million affordable housing investment for Ottawa

Middle-class families in Ottawa will benefit from 243 new rental units being built in the city with an investment from the federal government.

Two projects will be financed through the CMHC’s Rental Construction Financing initiative including $70.8 million for the construction of a twenty-seven storey building with 227 rental housing units. More than 200 will have rents lower than 30% of median household income in the area.

“The project represents a major step forward in sustainable design with ambitious design targets to reduce energy consumption by 50% and reduce carbon emissions by over 75% with an integrated geothermal system for the project,” said Neil Malhotra, Vice President, Claridge Homes who will build the 70 Gloucester development.

The other will be $3.9 million for a passive housing Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation project on Arlington Avenue. It will feature 16 rental housing units with rents well below 30% of median household income in the area.

“Through the National Housing Strategy, more middle class Canadians – and those working hard to join it – will find safe, accessible and affordable homes where their families can thrive and have the stability and opportunities they need to succeed. Our Government is committed to increasing the supply of rental units for Canadians through projects like the ones we are announcing today,” added Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

 

by Steve Randall  Ι  24 Sep 2018

Bull run continues for BC commercial real estate

Investment activity in commercial real estate in British Columbia has continued its bull run in the first half of 2018.

A new report from Avison Young says there were 102 deals with a total value of $3.04 billion, the second highest on record for both deal count and total dollar volume.

However, a more cautious approach is being shown by investors in residential land amid rising political uncertainty, rising construction costs, and affordability issues.

Investors are questioning the high land values, especially in Vancouver. But for other CRE sectors, demand remains strong.

“Rising land values had the effect of increasing the cost of not only land, but any and all commercial real estate assets that included a land play,” comments Avison Young Principal Bal Atwal. “This has been one of the contributing factors of cap rate compression for a large majority of investment sale transactions over the last few years. As the land market now starts to take a slight breath, it remains to be seen over the next few months if the market will maintain its recent upward trajectory, stabilize at current levels or begin to falter.”

How the sectors are performing
Office investment sales activity in BC generated more than $1 billion in the first half of 2018 with 23 transactions valued at $1.04 billion.

The sale of BC retail assets remained exceptionally strong in the first half of 2018 with 43 transactions valued at $1.55 billion following the record-smashing retail investment sales performance of 2017.

Industrial investment activity still remained strong in the first six months of 2018 with 36 industrial transactions valued at $449 million – a slight decline from the first half of 2017 when 37 deals valued at $456 million were completed.

Sales activity of BC multi-family assets remained at historic heights with 42 transactions valued at $674 million in the first half of 2018 with the number of deals falling just short of the first half of 2017 (46) but with greater dollar volume ($652 million) than what was recorded a year ago.

 

by Steve Randall Ι  24 Sep 2018

Commercial Mortgages: “How to See the Deal”

When I first started working with Commercial Mortgages about 10 years ago, I had a hard time wrapping my head around what went into putting one of these deals together. Each deal is truly unique and I soon found can have many moving parts. In order to get a better understanding of what I was doing, I needed to put in place a process, or standardized approach that I could follow on all my deals. After a while, I found what works for me and wanted to share this approach. I found that there are several key factors that contribute to a typical deal and how addressing these factors can help you to “See the Deal”.

Since most, if not all commercial mortgages are paper-based and there really isn’t a web-based system like filogix that you can use to enter information into in order to produce a clear picture, the story or summary that is prepared for a commercial deal is very important. This summary gives me a good overview and allows me to “See the Deal” so that when I’m speaking to a prospective lender, colleague or drafting a quick email, I can highlight the critical points fairly quickly and concisely.

One way to “See the Deal” is to use the 3-legged stool or a 3-point triangle like the one at the beginning of this article. Basically, the main points or factors that I work with and focus on in my approach are:

1)     The Covenant

2)     The Income

3)     The Real Estate

The idea is to analyze each point and gather the necessary details for each in order to determine whether that point is weak or strong. What documentation do you need to assess each point? Also, what or where are the risks associated with each point and if necessary how can these risks be mitigated? How can you best sum up each point?

When looking at the ‘Covenant’, consider this;

  • What is the Borrower’s net worth? With commercial mortgage financing, the Borrower’s income is not that important since we don’t rely on their income to pay the mortgage – the property’s rent does. The Borrower’s net worth is more important.
  • Is the Borrower’s net worth all comprised of real estate or is it well diversified? How much in liquid assets do they have?
  • If they needed to inject funds into the property for emergency repairs (ie. Roof or HVAC  system needs a replacement immediately) or they need to cover the mortgage payment from their own resources due to unexpected or chronic vacancy, would they have the funds available?
  • How’s their personal credit? Are their taxes current? Do they have any other sources of income?
  • Etc

When looking at the ‘Income, we typically consider what determines and what can affect the property’s rent and this can include;

  • Cash flow. What does this look like? How much rent does the property generate? What is the likelihood that it will continue?
  • Net Operating Income (NOI), which is Income minus Expenses. The NOI is important since we use the NOI to calculate the two critical ratios used in commercial lending – the Loan To Value (LTV) and the Debt Coverage Ratio (DCR)
  • What are the leases like? Short term, long term? Do the tenants pay for any expenses such as taxes, utilities, insurance or maintenance? Ie. Are the leases Gross, Semi-Gross or Triple Net?
  • Do all the leases come due at the same time, in the same year or are they staggered over several years (this is known as Rollover Risk)?
  • Are the rents belowat or above market rents? How do they compare to similar properties? Are there yearly increases (step-ups)?
  • What type of tenants are they? Weak or strong? For example, Tim Horton’s is a great tenant; stand-alone restaurants, not so great. What’s the history of the tenancy?
  • What is the vacancy like and how has it been historically?
  • Does the client have a properly prepared Rent Roll?
  • Etc

Finally, when looking at the ‘Real Estate’ (which IS the lender’s main security) some of the points to consider are:

  • What type of property is it? Conventional, unconventional or special use? Can it be easily converted for other uses?
  • Where is it located? Is it urban or rural? Is it located in an area with other similar properties? Or does it stand out?
  • What is the property worth? How does the value compare to similar properties? Do we have an appraisal?
  • What is the property’s condition? Are there any major repairs or upgrades that are needed in the short or medium term?
  • How old is the property? Is the property too old to repair? Do we have a Building Condition Report (BCA)? Will we need one?
  • Are there any sources of environmental impact on or near the property? What is located acrossnext to or upgrade to the property? Do we have an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)? Will we need one?
  • Etc

I’ve ended each section with Etc because by no means did I include all of the possible things to consider or questions to ask.

By being able to “See the Deal” a commercial broker will be able to discuss the file clearly. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses. Discuss the risk factors and what can be done to mitigate those factors. This will also help in gathering the necessary documentation and identify what will be required in order to proceed, quickly and efficiently.

The benefits to developing an approach similar to this are many. This allows for a more streamlined and standardized process which will also make a broker’s life easier when putting the deal together and making the process as painless as possible for the client.

It also instills confidence in the lenders you will be marketing the deal to since it shows some thought and insight into your underwriting. Also, one factor I know is critical with most lenders, is to have some conviction and to believe in the deal; when submitting a file for review I find that really standing behind the deal, “…I recommend the deal based on…..” and list your thoughts goes along way versus saying, “….I have a deal….what do you think……?”. “Seeing the Deal”, makes it easier to stand behind the deal and express why. This will only strengthen your relationship with your lenders.

In the end, this will result in a quicker turn around and the ability to get a better deal for your client.

 

Ermanno Tasciotti  | January 2018