Earlier this month, the US Senate Banking Committee held a hearing critical to borrowing in the commercial real estate industry. The hearing, entitled “Improving Communities’ and Businesses’ Access to Capital and Economic Development” included discussion of a House bill introduced by Rep. French Hill (R-AR) tagged H.R. 4620, the “Preserving Access To CRE Capital Act”.
The Act, according to a May 19 letter sent from NAR President Tom Salamone, makes a modest yet important change to the “Qualified Commercial Real Estate” (QCRE) exemption to the commercial real estate risk retention rules slated to go into effect in December of 2016 under Dodd-Frank.
The issue centers on the class of commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) called single-asset, single-borrower, or SASB. In his letter, President Salamone continues:
The Preserving Access to CRE Capital Act makes a modest but important change to the “Qualified Commercial Real Estate” (QCRE) exemption to the commercial real estate risk retention rules slated to go into effect in December 2016. These impending rules are, as written, overly broad. Single asset/single borrower (SASB) commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS) are not exempt, despite being low-risk, and not the type of transaction the Dodd-Frank Act was intended to regulate. Rep. Hill’s legislation would fix this oversight by widening the QCRE exemption to include SASB and interest-only loans. Without this fix, liquidity rates will be impaired and borrowing costs will go up.
CMBSs are important sources of financing for commercial real estate projects of all kinds, providing about 25% of all commercial real estate lending in the country1 . They are especially important in secondary and tertiary markets, where they provide a significant portion of the financing for smaller, “Main Street” businesses. Arbitrarily reducing liquidity in the CMBS market will thus reduce liquidity across the board and raise borrowing costs for commercial real estate loans in all markets.
H.R. 4260, introduced in the house in February, promises to address the problem of overly broad risk retention rules. To learn how, you can read the entirety of the bill after this link.