Multifamily lenders enjoy another record year - report

Market reaches historic levels of activity against backdrop of strong investor demand

Multifamily lenders enjoy another record year - report

It was a record-breaking year for multifamily lenders in 2021, fuelled by low-interest rates and robust demand from investors.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, multifamily lending hit a record high of $487.3 billion last year, outperforming 2020’s tally of $359.7 billion by 35%. Of the 2,215 active lenders, 32% made five or fewer multifamily loans over the year.

Jamie Woodwell, vice president of commercial real estate research at the MBA, attributed the jump in volume to solid property fundamentals, rising values, low-interest rates, and strong demand from every capital source. The mix of lenders in the data shows the depth and diversity of the apartment lending market.”

Read more: Multifamily outlook remains positive – report

The $487.3 billion of multifamily mortgages originated went to various investors, with depositories garnering the largest share – 34% of the total. By dollar volume, the top five multifamily lenders in 2021 were Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase & Company, Berkadia, Walker & Dunlop, and CBRE.

“The first half of 2022 saw continued lending momentum, but significant changes in equity and debt markets – due to higher interest rates and economic uncertainty – have affected the demand and supply of debt,” Woodwell said.

MBA’s latest forecast predicts that total commercial and multifamily mortgage borrowing and lending volume will fall 18% year over year to $733 billion in 2022. Multifamily lending alone is anticipated to decline by 10% annually to $436 billion in 2022 before rebounding to $454 billion in 2023.

“The rapid changes taking place across space, equity, and debt markets are having a significant effect on commercial and multifamily real estate transaction volumes,” said Woodwell. “After a record start to the year, we expect that the rise in rates, ongoing uncertainty about supply and demand balances among some property types, and concerns about the direction of the economy will suppress new loan originations in the second half of the year. Most commercial real estate market fundamentals remain strong, with significant increases in the incomes and values of many properties in recent years. These factors are why MBA expects loan demand to begin to bounce back in 2023 and 2024.

“The direction of the economy, which remains uncertain, will be a major driver of the magnitude and timing of market changes. Should the economy enter a recession, which – if it were to happen – would most likely come in the first half of 2023, commercial and multifamily borrowing and lending would likely be further constrained.”