Even as the ranks of multifamily construction lenders continue to thin, borrowers can expect to see a broader array of loan products from the newly consolidated financial institutions.
There have been a few recent high-profile consolidations involving companies heavily involved in financing apartment construction loans. This continues a trend over the past few years of large financial services firms buying smaller lenders, especially lenders with established relationships with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Lenders say that the impact of the consolidations on borrowers should be in the form of increased loan product offerings and one-stop shopping, where borrowers can choose from a wide array of loan programs to meet their needs.
In late April, Wachovia Corp. announced that it had agreed to buy American Property Financing, Inc. (APF), a New York City-based lender that is an active Fannie Mae Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS), Freddie Mac Program Plus, and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lender. Wachovia expects its APF purchase to improve its financing and servicing capabilities and create an increased presence in the New York City multifamily market, where APF is strong, according to Brett Smith, managing director and head of mortgage origination and placement for Wachovia’s Real Estate Capital Markets Group.
In early June, Wells Fargo & Co. announced that it had agreed to acquire Reilly Mortgage Group, a McLean, Va.-based lender that originates more than $1.5 billion a year in new loans. Reilly is also a DUS, Program Plus, and FHA lender.
Reilly will be a separate Wells Fargo unit after the acquisition, but will expand its loan offerings to include Wells Fargo products even as its new parent adds Reilly products to its suite of lending options. For example, the FHA financing program, despite being nonrecourse and offering tempting 40-year terms, has suffered from a cumbersome and often slow loan process. “Now we have other [construction loan] products available at Wells that our clients can be interested in,” said Tom Szydlowski, Reilly’s president and CEO. “FHA’s a good construction program, but not everybody wants to go the FHA route.” Reilly also plans to expand its existing offices and add new offices to strengthen its presence in the market, he said. Szydlowski will stay with Reilly and continue to run its agency lending business. Alan Weiner, APF’s CEO, will continue running APF and will be co-head, with Managing Director Ed Hurley, of Wachovia’s multifamily lending group.
Other significant acquisitions in recent years include Deutsche Bank’s purchase of Berkshire Mortgage Finance and KeyBank’s purchase of American Capital Resource, Inc. One independent multifamily lender noted recently to APARTMENT FINANCE TODAY that it was becoming rarer to find a national lender like his company that hadn’t been taken over by a large bank. He hoped to compete by offering better servicing and flexibility.