NEW YORK CITY—David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac, tells GlobeSt.com that the $129-million dollar transaction with Sabal Capital Partners, LLC serving as the lender ensures that the Emerald Equity Group’s multifamily apartments are preserved as workforce housing in the Bronx.
“This is the largest Small Balance Loan transaction in Freddie Mac SBL history, and it underscores the flexibility, responsiveness and streamlined process that are synonymous with our program,” says Brickman.
On an aggressive schedule, Sabal Capital Partners, LLC analyzed, underwrote and closed on time, each of Emerald Equity Group’s 34 refinance loans, encompassing more than 850 affordable rental units at 34 properties.
Pat Jackson, chairman and CEO of Sabal Capital, described his company’s two-day marathon of individual loan closings that involved site inspections with five third parties, appraisals, environmental reports, Freddie Mac credit division reviews, commitment letters, legal review, title analysis and loan documents for each of the properties.
The workforce housing upgrades included improvements to bathrooms, kitchens, entry areas, and general living conditions. In a GlobeSt.com interview, Jackson explained that the deal was an opportunity to work with an existing building supply that is right in a sweet spot of affordable and continues to extend and offer that product where it is underserved. “You see a lot of high rises that are luxury but you don’t see a lot of new construction for this price point,” says Jackson. “that is why it is so important.”
“The upgrade and rehabilitation of the properties in this portfolio, which comprise nearly 100 percent workforce housing, will provide families with a nice and affordable place to call home in an area with an extremely high cost of living,” says Isaac Kassirer, president at Emerald Equity Group.
Both Emerald Equity and Sabal Capital focus on Small Balance Loans, and 70% of these loans are affordable housing-related, according to Jackson. “We like that space because we looked at the demographics associated with affordable housing and there is a real demand relative to supply,” says Jackson. It is a good business model for the borrower and a favorable risk profile for the lender.
Upon visiting the Bronx property the Sabal Capital team interviewed tenants. They found that the property appealed to many New York professionals who quality for affordable housing, such as an investment firm junior analyst, a policeman, or a teacher. All would prefer to live relatively close to their workplaces, instead of taking a train from, just say, Putnam County. Sabal Capital strongly supports Emerald Equity’s goal of upgrading workforce housing, making the property nicer for residents, yet staying within the required price point.
Freddie Mac works exclusively in the secondary mortgage market, buying mortgages and securitizing them, thereby increasing the supply of money for mortgage lenders and in the market. Freddie Mac’s SBL program was announced in October 2014. For New York City, individual SBL amounts are capped at $7.5 million. Jackson says that the relatively new program has demonstrated it is “big league and ready for prime time,” where even large transactions can hit tight time tables and deliver with high expectations.
He comments with borrowers, New York is one of the most demanding marketplaces in the world. With the affordable multifamily apartment market, which has historically been dominated by New York banks, Jackson says owners may not have considered Freddie Mac in the past. Now, they may want to turn to the SBL program for debt solutions.