Successfully Navigating Economic Challenges in Commercial Real Estate Finance: Consistent New Production Across Asset Classes Utilizing a Proven Roster of Correspondents and Vetted Capital Sources; Commitment to Long-Term Growth and Talent Development, Showcased Through Board Promotions and Strategic Hires
Phoenix, AZ (January 23, 2024) – Gantry, the largest independent commercial mortgage banking firm in the U.S., concluded 2023 with its $18 billion national loan servicing portfolio operating with no delinquencies as of 12/31/2023 and continuing a trend maintained since 2020 despite challenges posed by post-COVID disruptions and structural asset shifts. Despite rapidly increasing debt costs and experiencing a slowdown in new loan production throughout the year, Gantry excelled in securing high-quality loans across various asset classes, including refinance, acquisition, bridge, and construction.
“Gantry was able to pivot into the changing market and successfully place hundreds of clients in new loans during 2023, meeting their requirements in the face of a volatile rate climate and shifting economic conditions,” said Gantry Principal and CFO Michael Heagerty. “Market conditions are beginning to stabilize as we move into 2024, with new assignment requests growing exponentially as the year begins. We expect to build on the improved last two quarters of 2023 with a stronger year for new production in 2024 as price discovery and time-sensitive maturities break the log jam in the investment sales market. We are extremely pleased with the continued performance of our servicing portfolio and will continue to work with borrowers closely to assist them through this difficult market. We strive to place our clients in optimized financial structures to help them thrive, and this approach will continue to define new production in 2024.”
New loan originations were substantially muted during the first two quarters of 2023 across the commercial real estate markets in response to the rapid spike in the cost of capital during the past year. Despite this climate, Gantry’s loan producers could navigate the market for various client needs, securing permanent, bridge, conduit, and construction loans along with preferred equity and mezzanine placements, all adjusted for current market conditions. Gantry committed to and closed new loans throughout 2023 due to its access to many lenders, capitalizing on opportunities as the competition from banks retreated. Multifamily, retail, industrial, and self-storage assets represented the majority of new 2023 production. Gantry also successfully secured funding for mixed-use, office, healthcare, hotel, and manufactured housing assets.
Key trends to broadly consider moving from 2023 into 2024 include:
- The current Federal Reserve policy is stabilizing a volatile rate climate which should begin to narrow spreads. Potential rate decreases in 2024 could provide some additional relief, although it will be tempered by expectations for minor decreases in a “higher for longer” capital cycle.
- Banks may remain essentially absent from the commercial mortgage markets in 2024 as they seek to shore up balance sheets and respond to new regulatory policy. Borrowers will most likely need to move beyond their traditional bank financing relationships in 2024.
- Bank alternatives exist from life company, agency, debt fund, credit union, and conduit lenders. Gantry works with hundreds of vetted lenders to identify viable loan options to fit their programs.
- Gantry’s life company correspondents remain active and offer one of the most stable and consistent lenders for permanent debt. They are also becoming more active in the construction and bridge lending spaces to chase yield and enhance existing borrower relationships.
- Debt funds will continue to be active. Their money will often be more expensive and siloed by asset type or region, but their allocations will be more flexible.
- CMBS has the potential of making a strong comeback in 2024 due to the many variable rate loans where caps have expired that will have to lock up debt at the highest leverage feasible.
- In the current rate climate, many borrowers are opting to pursue 3- to 5-year loan terms with the hopes of maturing into a lower rate climate. Gantry has been successful in placing clients in longer term loan structures that offer prepayment flexibility for the same reason.
- Many sponsors will require new equity to shore up their debt repayment metrics for worthy assets challenged by new requirements from a higher capital cost cycle. Institutional capital will turn to preferred equity, mezzanine, and participation loans for yield.
- Office continues to be the most challenged asset class in 2024. Obsolescence, vacancies, remote workforce, and the new rate climate continue to affect fundamentals. Some institutional quality assets are beginning to trade at steep discounts, with more to come. Poor quality and dated offices will have pressure to be restructured but not all distressed office assets will find life as residential conversions, although as prices find equilibrium, assets that can support the transition will be financeable.
- Multifamily, industrial, retail, self-storage, and medical office assets will continue to be the most attractive asset classes with abundant funding options from a variety of lenders.
Gantry, a primary servicer with a long-standing rating from Standard & Poor’s, ended 2023 with an impressive zero delinquencies across its $18 billion national servicing portfolio. This expansive portfolio encompasses over 2,100 unique loans spanning 43 states, covering a diverse array of asset classes such as industrial, retail, multifamily, office, mixed-use, healthcare, self-storage, hotel, and manufactured housing community properties. The consistency in performance over the past four years stands as a compelling testament to Gantry’s robust working relationships with its correspondent lenders, rigorous underwriting standards, and the firm’s proactive and enduring connections with borrowers – from the initial loan placement to maturity.
Despite the economic headwinds of 2023, Gantry remained committed to its long-term corporate growth and talent development goals. Gantry’s Board of Directors promoted Amit Tyagi and Tony Kaufmann to the title of Principal, with both buying into Gantry as partners in the firm’s private, producer-owned corporate structure. Additionally, the firm welcomed key executives, appointing Christine Kim as Chief Marketing Officer and seasoned loan producer James Ruiz as Senior Director. The dedication to talent development for the industry is further exemplified by Gantry’s ongoing summer internship program, which saw the mentorship of five interns in 2023. The firm plans to sustain this program at a comparable level in 2024.
Beyond internal growth, Gantry’s commitment to community and philanthropy remains a foundational principle. In 2023, the firm's matching donation program enabled partners and employees to support 42 deserving organizations, including the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Red Cross, MBA’s Open Doors Foundation, and others. This ongoing commitment reflects Gantry's dedication to making a positive impact beyond the finance sector and into the communities in which we live and serve.