’s 8th Annual Golden Turkey Awards

As we look back each November to bestow the year’s crop of Golden Turkeys to the silliest and most annoying instances of regulatory overreach, legislative inanity, governmental misfeasance or the mere idiotic behavior of people without any help from the government apparatchiki, there’s always a glorious excess of candidates. This whole commentary thing would be really hard if the world made sense and behaved in a predictable, rational, Newtonian universe sort of way, but blessedly it does not.

So, as we get ready for the season of cheer, the season of desperate efforts to close yet one more deal and the nice calculation of bonuses, and before we imbibe too much good food and drink to be at all disciplined, here is our list for 2017: Continue Reading

HVCRE Reform is HOT HOT HOT: Pittenger Bill Progresses to Senate

Add HVCRE reform to the list of things that have bi-partisan support (currently on the list: flag pins and banning the use of Twitter in the White House). On Tuesday, the House passed (with bi-partisan support…which should bolster its chances of passing in the Senate) H.R.2148 – Clarifying Commercial Real Estate Loans, otherwise known as the Pittenger Bill. As we covered in June, the Pittenger Bill aims to address the main shortcomings of the Basel III High Volatility Commercial Real Estate (HVCRE) regulations that affect acquisition, development or construction (ADC) loans by, among other things:

  1. offering a grandfather exemption for loans made prior to 2015;
  2. exempting acquisition and/or refinancing loans for properties with cash flow sufficient to support debt service and property expenses;
  3. removing the prohibition of cash distributions as long as borrower’s 15% equity stays in the deal; and
  4. providing the ability to convert (without having to make a new loan) from a HVCRE loan to a non-HVCRE loan prior to the end of the term of the loan.

Since our last check-in with H.R. 2148, Congresswoman Maloney proposed an amendment that streamlined (although streamline and legislation seem like oxymorons) the HVCRE bill with the proposed HVADC framework. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), enacting the Pittenger Bill would not significantly increase spending or deficits. In other words, the Pittenger Bill has got what it takes!

Stay tuned as we track the HVCRE reform as it progresses through the Senate. The Senate is notoriously slow to move and with legislators focused on tax reform, it’s unclear whether any “multi-tasking” will extend to include passage of the HVCRE reform. And for those of you asking “what about HVADC?!”, the proposed rule is open for comments until December 26, 2017 and will be subject to vote in the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision in the coming weeks. Meaning, Congress is in a race against the regulators to see who can get their reform in place first. If this all gives you agita, reach out to the Crunched Credit team – we’re happy to discuss.

Treasury Report on the Capital Markets: A New Day

Or maybe not.  At the outset, let’s give credit where credit is due.  It was gratifying to read a governmental missive on the capital markets that made sense, showed an actual grasp of how markets function and an awareness of the issues confronting capital formation.  Best damn thing I ever read coming out of the swamp.

The Treasury Report on the capital markets published in early October is indeed pretty fantastic stuff.  The Report covers the Treasury’s recommendation on re-centering many of the rules around the capital markets over a wide range of regulatory issues important to securitization and capital formation.

Let’s focus on the provisions in this Report that are central to securitization.

These can be summarized as follows:

  • There should be one agency with the responsibility for the Risk Retention Rule and we should dispense with the committee-of-committee that’s been running the clown car for the past couple of years. The old saw that “a camel is a horse built by a committee” is certainly proven by the risk retention experience.
  • Regulatory bank capital requirements treat investment in non-agency securitized instruments punitively.
  • Regulatory liquidity standards unfairly discriminate against securitized products.
  • Sponsor risk retention as set out in the Risk Retention Rule represents an unnecessary cost imposed upon securitization.
  • Some of the new and improved (read: expanded) disclosure requirements under Dodd-Frank are unnecessarily burdensome.

In other words, our regulatory regime needs a certain amount of recalibration to achieve its goals of safety and soundness in the financial market place while not impeding capital formation.  Continue Reading

Proposed Changes to HVCRE Open for Comment

At long last (at least for those of us who have been checking the Federal Register daily), the proposed HVADC rule has been published in the Federal Register and is open for comment. The public (that’s us!) has 60 days to comment – so all comments are due by December 26, 2017 (Ho ho ho!). Give us a ring if you want to discuss potential issues, pitfalls, comments, or recommendations (or even something more mundane like the weather).

Yakety Yak – Talk Back: Regulators Respond to HVCRE Complaints

On September 27, 2017, the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) that they describe as simplifying compliance with certain aspects of the agencies’ risk based capital (RBC) rules to, among other things, replace the standardized approach’s (SA) treatment of HVCRE loans with a simpler treatment for most acquisition, development or construction (ADC) loans called high volatility acquisition, development or construction (HVADC). Spoiler alert: it just replaces vague and confusing rules with a slightly different set of vague and confusing rules.

Continue Reading

Welcome to Stockholm! We Are Learning To Love Our Regulatory State

As an industry, we remain in high dudgeon over the inanity of much of Dodd-Frank, the ideological and often unhinged regulatory instincts of our various governments and the vast amount of effort, time and money it takes to comply with the mind-numbing complexity of rules and regulations that seem to be largely untethered from the goal of solving actual problems. We winge. We boviate. We testify, write white papers, fund PACs and pursue “engagements” with the regulatory apparatchiki in the pursuit of sensible relief. But do we still really care?

Are we witnessing a process of reconciliation? Could it be that the capital markets have found a way to thrive inside the current regulatory state’s bear hug? Continue Reading

Single-Family Rental: The Landscape and Future of CRE’s Newest Asset Class

Earlier this month, our very own Kenneth D. Hackman, a regular contributor to Crunched Credit, moderated a panel entitled Single-Family Rental: The Landscape and Future of CRE’s Newest Asset Class, hosted by Dechert LLP, for CREFC’s After-Work Seminar Series.

The esteemed panel consisted of Kevin S. Dwyer, Senior Vice President, RMBS, Morningstar Credit Ratings, LLC; Bradley J. Hauger, Senior Vice President, Loan Servicing Director, PNC Real Estate/Midland Loan Services; J. Christopher Hoeffel, Chief Financial Officer, CoreVest American Finance and R. Christopher Jones, Director, Deutsche Bank.

Readers of Crunched Credit know that we are bullish on SFR: single-family rental is the largest class of rental stock in America, eclipsing the multi-family market. The number of single-family rental units grew 23% from 2006-2015, with most of that growth following the Great Recession. Since then, the institutional single-family rental business has blossomed into a viable, long-term business. And as institutional ownership has grown, SFR finance has grown apace.

You know, for a long time, we, and I think many other observers, thought that SFR was a trade created by the collapse of the residential housing market in 2007-2008. We thought when the opportunity to buy single family homes at ridiculously low prices, fix them up and rent them went away, the trade would go away. We were wrong and SFR is growing into a mature industry that is likely to continue to grow for many years. Right now, depending on who you ask, 12 or 13% of US housing stock is now single family home rentals. Of that, only a small percentage is in institutional hands. Note that in several G20 countries, a very large portion of the housing stock is in institutional hands. It seems there’s plenty of headroom for this industry to grow here at home. Continue Reading

It’s the Taxes, Stupid

In this commentary we have talked about a lot of challenges facing commercial real estate finance and other capital market activities over the years.  With more or less “pants on fire” anxiety, we’ve talked about Dodd-Frank’s regulatory compliance burdens, the Volcker Rule, Risk Retention, the glorious and multitudinous products of the gnomes of Basil, the efforts of the “we hate all Anglo-Saxon bullshit” gang in the European Community to strangle securitization, the LIBOR scandal, geopolitical risk, and the famous unknown unknowns.

But, right now, we need to concentrate people:  it’s the tax code, stupid.  For those with limited bandwidth, and I count myself among them, this is where much of our energy needs to be focused.   Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Years; This Time Will Be Different

The Wall Street Journal reminded us this month that it was ten years ago, August 9, 2007, that the first regulatory domino in The Great Recession fell as BNP Paribas froze a series of resi investment funds for lack of a functioning market to value the securities. One could quibble about whether The Great Recession could be so precisely dated. Were there the blackened equivalent of green shoots earlier in the year? Did The Great Recession really only begin when the trouble in the subprime resi market morphed into all other credit markets? But that’s merely a cavil. August 9, 2007 is, for me, the date the world changed. Continue Reading

Fun With GAAP:  CMBS at Risk

Here’s a headline for you:  We don’t know if a conventional CMBS securitization where risk retention bonds are retained by a B-buyer under an industry standard third party purchaser agreement achieves accounting sale treatment.  Failure of accounting sale treatment means the selling bank cannot book the gain and does not derecognize the underlying loans resulting in the entire portfolio of loans remaining on its balance sheet for both Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, and presumably, for risk based capital purposes.

As might have been said by that great philosopher of the 20th Century: “You cannot possibly be serious!”

Commercial Mortgage Alert broke the story on Friday, August 11th and so I’m finally going to talk about the issue.  I’ve been itching to do so since early June when I became aware of the problem but it really didn’t seem there was a lot of upside for a broad industry discussion of the problem back then while the auditors and the internal finance teams at our banks and other CMBS sponsors were still pondering the issue.  But, after a good deal of mulling and to-ing and fro-ing, it’s still not resolved so I think it’s time to bring fun with GAAP out of the closet.

Continue Reading