I think it’s fair to characterize the following transaction as a symbol of our current national office market boom. Gone, gone, gone are the days when lenders’ hands were tied and 30-40% minimum cash on the barrelhead was a necessity to get a deal done for an office building in a primary market. Today, leverage is back in a big way — at least in one such deal in Los Angeles reported by Globe St’s Kelsi Maree Borland.
In “Office Property Lands 90% LTV Financing”, we learn of a $21.6 million deal for an eight-story office building and parking garage financed with a mix of SBA 504 guarantee and very favorable underwriting from another lender at a rate of 200 basis points over treasuries at 90% leverage. The unnamed owner-user and their team at Sequoia Commercial Lending have put together a deal emblematic of a Los Angeles office market not only in recovery, but in bona fide expansion.
“Typically banks will only provide this type of leverage for SBA deals, therefore we approached the SBA about a 504 loan, and secured a pre-approval allowing for 85% leverage,” Christopher Farlow, a partner at Sequoia Commercial Lending, tells GlobeSt.com. “We then leveraged the SBA’s pre-approval with two banks, who were willing to provide more than 75% LTV on a conventional basis. Both of the banks have SBA divisions, so if they couldn’t do the deals conventionally at 85%, we still had the SBA 504 as a backup. Once the final underwriting was done, one of the lenders came back and asked what would win the deal. We requested 90% leverage, with a rate that was 2% over the 10-year UST, and a 0.00% loan fee from the bank. The bank agreed and allowed us to lock the rate without a deposit fee.” Farlow and his colleague Brett Twente, a partner at Sequoia Commercial, secured the financing on behalf of the borrower, and declined to name the lender for confidentiality purposes.
The loan has a 25-year amortization period with a step-down prepayment schedule. Farlow has worked with this lender in the past, and has seen them provide leverage has high as 85%; however, he was even surprised by their willingness to reach 90% leverage. When asked if leveraging a loan this high was dangerous, Farlow says, “Yes, there is obviously danger in providing this type of leverage. However, the borrowers provided personal guarantees. Their business is going to occupy the majority of the building, and the businesses are guarantors. The EBITDAR from the businesses covers the proposed debt service several times over and once the building is leased up, the value should increase by more than 25%.”
That said, deal principal and Sequoia partner Christopher Farlow caution that high leverage isn’t a trend across the capital markets, and that 90% LTV are more “one-off” deals.
It’s just that such deals seemed unthinkable not terribly long ago.