Sims Mortgage Funding Completes Metairie Manor Refinancing in Louisiana

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc.

by Anthony Luzzi

From the Jersey Meadowlands to the Bayou – Sims Mortgage Funding Has It Covered!

Although it is headquartered in New Jersey, Sims Mortgage Funding seems to have a second home in Louisiana – we have closed close to $530 million in HUD-insured loans in the Pelican State. We returned there last month to complete a $10,814,900 refinancing for Metairie Manor, a 287-unit, Section 8 funded, affordable senior housing community owned and managed by affiliates of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

The backstory? We originally refinanced Metairie Manor in 2012 when it paid off its HUD Section 202 Direct Loan; that refinancing produced about $250,000 in annual debt service savings that have been used to fund wellness and affordable nutrition programs, resident units deep-cleaning services, and enhanced transportation options. Interest rates for HUD-insured loans have dropped since the 2012 refinancing, so the Archdiocese brought us back to evaluate options to generate more debt service savings.

Our solution? We originated a new HUD-insured loan under the Section 222(a)7 program, an expedited review option that does not require an appraisal and has a pared-down application and underwriting format. This minimized the time it took us to develop the application and loan underwriting, and the time it took for HUD to review and approve the deal.

The result? The 223(a)(7) loan reduced the project’s interest rate by 33% and produced debt service savings of $118,000 annually. Moreover, in order to maximize annual debt service savings, we negotiated an extension of the loan term of almost 10 years. The additional savings from the new 223(a)(7) loan materially expands Metairie Manor’s capacity to provide services and programs to its residents, enhancing it already-solid reputation in the community. We also built approximately $700,000 into the new loan to supplement the existing Reserve for Replacements fund, so there is a stable platform to provide for Metairie’s physical needs in the future.

The takeaway? The new 223(a)(7) loan will enable Metairie Manor to expand its programs and services and increase its capital reserves – all to be accomplished without an increase in the existing Section 8 funding.

An encore? The Metairie Manor refinancing is the eleventh HUD-insured loan we have closed for the Archdiocese and its management affiliate, Christopher Homes, Inc.

For more information, please contact Andrew Patykula at apatykula@simsmortgage.com.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc. originates, underwrites, and funds loans for Healthcare, Multifamily and Hospital projects. We have completed over $2 billion in HUD-insured transactions and are an approved LEAN (healthcare) and MAP (multifamily) lender.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of HJ Sims.

HUD’s Three-Year Waiver – One Year Later

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc.

by Anthony Luzzi

It has been slightly over one year since HUD waived its “three-year requirement” for multifamily projects to be eligible for mortgage insurance under the Section 223(f) refinancing and acquisition program.  Prior to that, a multifamily property could not benefit from obtaining a 223(f) loan until it was in service for three years, an eternity, especially when current rates for HUD-insured loans have been at historically low levels.  Developers unwilling to wait three years have typically used HUD’s Section 221(d)(4) program to finance new projects. 

However, the three-year waiver has given multifamily developers an opportunity to finance new projects with the best of both worlds – short-term bank financing for construction followed by a HUD take-out once the project has reached a modest level of stabilization.  How modest?  HUD will accept an application for 223(f) mortgage insurance after the property has reached one month of 1.176 debt service coverage and will close on the loan after three consecutive months at that same coverage has been achieved.  

However, developers considering bank financing for multifamily construction instead of a 221(d)(4) loan, then using a 223(f) loan to take out the bank debt should consider the advantages and disadvantages of that approach.

The Advantages:

  • The time to complete the bank financing will be shorter, enabling construction to start sooner.
  • Davis-Bacon “prevailing” wages for construction will not be required with a bank loan.
  • The construction contract and architect agreement can be structured with more flexibility.
  • The bank’s application will be less complicated and esoteric.

The Disadvantages:

  • Bank loan-to-cost ratios are lower, which means more equity will be needed to complete a bank deal. Some of this additional equity can be recovered with the 223(f) loan, as cash-outs at 80% loan-to-value underwriting are permitted.
  • Banks require recourse and personal guarantees.
  • There is interest rate risk on the 223(f) loan since it will not close until after construction is completed and there has been at least three months of stabilized debt service coverage.
  • Construction lending by banks has been somewhat curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recently assisted a prospective client evaluate these options for a market-rate multifamily development in Florida and would be pleased to do the same for you.  What was his decision? For more information, please contact Anthony Luzzi at aluzzi@simsmortgage.com.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HJ Sims, originates, underwrites, and funds loans for Healthcare, Multifamily and Hospital projects. We have completed over $2 billion in HUD-insured transactions and are an approved LEAN (healthcare) and MAP (multifamily) lender.

What Do the Suez Canal and HUD Multifamily Mortgage Insurance Have in Common

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc.

by Anthony Luzzi

At first glance, that is an odd pairing, but stay with us, please.

The Suez Canal has recently been prominent in the news when a container ship became stuck, blocking the Canal and creating a massive logjam of ships at both ends.

There has been unprecedented demand for HUD’s multifamily mortgage insurance, creating logjams of applications waiting in queues across the five Regional Centers.

Demand has been fueled by historic low interest rates, notwithstanding their recent spike; more favorable loan-to-value, loan-to-cost, and debt service coverage ratios than conventional sources; non-recourse provisions that are a rarity elsewhere in the capital markets; and long-term (up to 40 years), fully amortizing structures.

In addition, there has been an increase in the popularity of the Section 223(f) refinance program since HUD eliminated the three-year rule last March that required a property to be in service for that long before it was eligible. (Special note to healthcare facility owners and operators: a similar waiver to the three-year rule may be in the offing under the LEAN program. Stay tuned for more details.)

HUD has taken several positive steps to address the situation, ensuring transparency and consistency to the application process.

First, they have established a fairly uniform screening protocol for applications before they are placed into the queue. Once an application is screened for deficiencies, a lender has five business days to respond; if the response is acceptable, the application is formally placed into the queue.

Second, once the application is in the queue, it is given a targeted date to be assigned to a HUD underwriter. The queue is generally updated weekly, so lenders and borrowers can track the progress of their deal and manage expectations along the way.

Third, HUD has revised loan priorities for assignment in the queue. They now are:

  1. Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) deals for new construction.
  2. LIHTC deals involving new credits.
  3. Opportunity Zone transactions with a qualified investment fund.
  4. Second-stage applications involving new construction.
  5. Other affordable or broadly affordable transactions.

Applications that do not meet the priorities are assigned on a first-in, first-out basis.

The new priorities took effect on March 18. We have seen immediate benefits as one of our applications became a Priority 4 and moved up to the top of the queue, gaining about three weeks in the schedule.

For more information, please contact Anthony Luzzi at aluzzi@simsmortgage.com.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc. originates, underwrites, and funds loans for Healthcare, Multifamily and Hospital projects. We have completed over $2 billion in HUD-insured transactions and are an approved LEAN (healthcare) and MAP (multifamily) lender.

Repurposing Aging Senior Living Facilities to Affordable Senior Housing

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Background

Older senior housing communities, in particular skilled nursing facilities, face numerous financial and operational challenges.  For example, combinations of changing neighborhood demographics, shifting care option preferences, the presence of newer, modern competition and constraints on third-party reimbursement have increasingly caused nursing homes to struggle to maintain healthy occupancy ratios and cash-flow.  Often, when cash-flow is tight, repairs and improvements are delayed, if done at all; senior housing property executive management and their governing boards can reasonably ask:

  • Does it make sense to invest in a component of our campus that no longer may be as relevant?
  • Is our mission as an organization being limited or compromised because of an inefficient physical plant that no longer serves the needs of residents and potential new residents?
  • Are there repurposing options for older, inefficient buildings, and if so, how can they be financed?

These questions, important to all senior housing operators, are perhaps more acute for not-for-profit, mission-based organizations, who generally operate on tighter operating budgets.  Moreover, the option of selling a building on campus to outside, third-party interests, may be counterproductive to the overall reputation of the community, as the buyer may not operate the property in a manner consistent with the original charitable mission.  With so many aging senior living facilities facing financial hardship, creative measures must be taken to avoid eventual closures and bankruptcies.

One Solution: Conversion of a Portion of a Senior Housing Community to Affordable, Low-Income Senior Housing

The way forward may be the conversion of older, less-functional components of a senior housing campus, like a skilled nursing facility, to an affordable assisted living or age-restricted multifamily housing.

Such a conversion could serve the dual purposes of: (1) expanding the mission of a not-for-profit provider whose primary operation is in the market-rate sector and (2) addressing a dramatic shortage nationwide of affordable housing, especially for lower-income seniors.

Consider that the National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports that there are 7.2 million affordable housing units needed for low-income families and individuals across the country. By re-purposing healthcare or other older buildings on campus to affordable housing or assisted living, not-for-profit sponsors can avoid closures, unwanted sales to unrelated buyers, and financial hardship.

Key Element of Affordable Housing Finance: Low – Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs)

One of the major challenges to the development of affordable housing is that there is typically a large gap between the costs of the project and the amount of financing that can be supported by operational cash-flow. In many affordable transactions, the gap is filled with equity generated from the procurement of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). These credits can significantly lessen the financial burden of conversion or repurposing senior living facilities into affordable assisted living or age-restricted senior housing.

LIHTCs provide developers and owners with a significant equity contribution towards the new construction, substantial rehabilitation, refinance, or acquisition of affordable housing projects. The program is administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through State Housing Finance Agencies and local Development Agencies. LIHTCs connect investors with sponsors and developers, providing the investors with considerable tax benefits over a period of approximately 10 years in exchange for their investment into the creation or preservation of affordable housing properties.

LIHTCs are generally available under two programs: 9% credits and 4% credits. The 9% credits cover more development costs but are extremely competitive to secure and often require a sponsor to commit to a higher degree of affordability with respect to rents and income limitations of residents. Moreover, the highly competitive and limited-supply 9% credit is typically reserved for new construction without any other federal subsidies.

The 4% credits, which often are accompanied by an allocation of tax-exempt multifamily housing revenue bonds, is typically allocated on a non-competitive basis. The 4% credits are considered part of the bond allocation, and given these credits are more accessible than their 9% counterpart and are available for repurposing existing buildings, the 4% execution will likely be the more likely product available.

In a typical LIHTC transaction, the credits would produce equity that covers anywhere from about 30% – 70% of the development costs associated with repurposing existing facilities into affordable housing. The LIHTC is equity, not to be repaid by the Project Owner. The typical Project ownership structure for LIHTC transactions is a Limited Partnership or Limited Liability Corporation, with the not-for-profit sponsor serving as a general partner or managing member and the tax credit investor acting as a limited partner or member. The not-for-profit sponsor can earn a development fee in a LIHTC transaction.

Debt Structures: HUD Mortgage Insurance as a Complement to 4% Credits/Tax Exempt Bond Financing

LIHTCs provide the equity for an affordable senior housing development; however, additional sources of financing will be needed to complete the capital stack.

Three HUD-insured mortgage loans can provide a source of financing for the debt component of a LIHTC transaction: Section 221(d)(4); Section 223(f); and Section 232 (assisted living). While a modest number of affordable assisted living facilities have been financed under the Section 232 program, the vast majority of HUD transactions that involve LIHTCs occur with the Section 221(d)(4) and Section 223(f) multifamily programs. (For a detailed summary of HUD’s mortgage insurance programs, please visit www.simsmortgage.com.)

The HUD 221(d)(4) program is the most likely option to accomplish the goals of a senior living sponsor to repurpose to affordable housing when the cost to renovate the property is higher than $40,000 per unit. This program is used for new construction and substantial rehabilitation and combines construction and permanent financing into one mortgage with an amortization and term of up to 40 years. Interest rates for the 221(d)(4) loans are currently in the low 3% range. The industry-best 40-year amortization lowers debt service payments, enhancing the feasibility of the Project.

Section 223(f) can be used when the cost of the renovation is less than $40,000 per unit. This program features a maximum 35-year amortization and current interest rates in the range of 2.50%. Both Section 221(d)(4) and Section 223(f) have .25% annual mortgage insurance premiums for affordable projects. These premiums are payable on the unpaid principal balance throughout the life of the loan.

A HUD-insured loan typically complements the tax-exempt bond financing that is needed “up front” to qualify for the 4% LIHTCs. That is because bond proceeds must be disbursed to pay project costs. However, the tax-exempt bonds are of limited duration, typically maturing after the rehabilitation is completed and the project is placed into service. The HUD-insured loan becomes the long-term financing after the bonds are redeemed post-rehabilitation.

LIHTC transactions often need additional sources of funding beyond the equity and tax-exempt bond/HUD debt. This funding can come from a variety of sources such as state grants or supplemental financing programs, Federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME funds and deferred development fees.

Are LIHTCs for You?

The LIHTC process is complex and involves significant administrative and reporting activities once the project is placed into service; however, if utilized properly, tax-credits can be a uniquely beneficial tool to preserve or create affordable assisted living or age-restricted housing. This process is further complicated if the converted units are part of an existing building financed with taxable or tax-exempt debt under a Master Trust Indenture (MTI). While it’s not impossible to layer tax-credit debt into the existing capital stack, additional legal and advisory work would need to be done to determine the correct path forward.

Due to the highly complex nature of these transactions, LIHTC consultants are typically used to assist with the tax credit application and ensure IRS compliance issues are followed. Not-for-profit sponsors without LIHTC experience may partner with an experienced developer, who becomes part of the ownership structure, albeit in a limited control setting.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc. (SMF) would perform the upfront screening of the transaction from the LIHTC and HUD-insured loan perspectives, and would coordinate with our parent company, HJ Sims, on the identification of tax-exempt bond issuing agencies with access to 4% credits and the selection of the agency most suitable for the sponsor’s needs. Moreover, we may be able to recommend specific LIHTC developers, consultants and attorneys based on the sponsor’s geographic location. Finally, SMF would help the provider identify legal help to ensure the new debt works with the existing MTI debt on the campus.

For more information, please contact Johnny Sears at jsears@simsmortgage.com.

Sims Mortgage Funding, Inc. originates, underwrites, and funds loans for Healthcare, Multifamily and Hospital projects. We have completed over $2 billion in HUD-insured transactions and are an approved LEAN (healthcare) and MAP (multifamily) lender.