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Warren Hitchcock and Chad Owens promoted to managing director in Northmarq’s Houston office

HOUSTON, TEXAS (February 8, 2023) – Northmarq announces the promotion of Chad Owens and Warren Hitchcock to senior vice president/managing director in the Houston debt and equity office. Both producers have been acknowledged for their success and high-quality performance with Northmarq.

“Warren is an 18-year Northmarq Veteran and Chad has been with Northmarq for 17 years. Warren and Chad have not only established themselves as leaders in the Houston Northmarq office but also in the local and national real estate capital markets,” said Tony Gray, Managing Director Debt and Equity, Houston Northmarq. “Their promotions are truly deserved and will continue to allow the Houston Northmarq office to provide our clients the highest level of service and capital markets executions.”

Hitchcock and Owens will co-manage the daily operations of the Houston office with managing directors John Burke and Tony Gray. Accompanying their leadership duties, they will retain their local production roles of originating debt and equity financing.

Hitchcock is a Top 10 Producer Nationally on an annual basis at Northmarq and currently serves on the Equity Advisor Board and Northmarq Producers Council, an appointment reserved for Northmarq’ s top originators. In addition to his responsibilities at Northmarq, he is an active member of a number of organizations including: Association of Commercial Real Estate Professionals (ACRP) as past President & Chairman, CCIM, a NAIOP committee member, and member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) serving on numerous committees. Hitchcock holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Owens has closed over $4 billion in capitalizations of retail, industrial, multifamily, office, and hospitality properties. Owens joined Northmarq’s Houston office in 2007 as investment analyst II and was hired to a producer in November of 2018. He was honored as Rookie of the Year in 2013, appointed for the top 10 percent of producers companywide, and is a member of the Production Management Committee. Owens is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Master of Real Estate.

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Houston Q3 Multifamily Market Insights: Rapid Job Growth Fuels Tightening Vacancy


Houston Multifamily market report snapshot for Q3 2022
  • The Houston multifamily market made sound improvements during the third quarter, fueled by a fully recovered local economy and the region’s growing population. Absorption levels have been elevated for the past two years, driving developers to accelerate the pace of apartment deliveries.
  • Vacancy continued to trend lower in recent months, falling 10 basis points during the third quarter to 5.4 percent. Year over year, the rate has dropped 30 basis points.
  • Rents continued to advance at a rapid rate in recent months. Asking rents reached $1,237 per month, up 2.2 percent for the quarter and 6.9 percent higher than one year ago.
  • The pace of multifamily transactions slowed during the third quarter, but sales velocity in 2022 is ahead of the year-earlier pace. In transactions where pricing was available, the median sales price thus far in 2022 is $168,400 per unit. Cap rates have ticked higher in recent months, averaging about 5 percent.

Read the report

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Warren Hitchcock joins Houston Bisnow panel discussing “Where is money coming from?”

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 9, 2022) – Warren Hitchcock, senior vice president/senior director of Northmarq’s Houston debt/equity team, attended the Houston Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference (BMAC) on November 9, where he was featured as a speaker during a panel titled, “Where is money coming from?” The panel was moderated by Adam Weaver, counsel – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Hitchcock was joined by Scott Ferguson, senior director of multifamily acquisition – Westmount Realty Capital, Douglas Dillard, CFO – DC Partners, and Cody Laughlin, founder/director of acquisition – Blue Oak Capital.

The conference highlighted the lack of uncertainty in the Houston market, which is booming. Although demand slowed and cap rates dropped, Bisnow noted that investors and developers are going harder this year with new construction and developments. The city is poised to be one of the top multifamily markets in Texas and the U.S., with tens of thousands of projects expected to be completed within the next 10 years. Numerous outside investors are picking the region to get top returns on their investments.

Topics covered in Hitchcock’s panel included:

  • How are the capital market fundamentals currently and what is impacting the markets?
  • What is the general state of debt/equity and how is it impacting deals
  • Capital markets debt leverage and pricing
  • What are the current headwinds and tailwinds?
  • What opportunities are present?
  • Predictions for the new year
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Emily Zarcaro named incoming president of Houston/Gulf Coast CCIM Chapter

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 2, 2022) – Emily Zarcaro, vice president of Northmarq’s Houston debt/equity team, was recently announced as Incoming President of the 2023 Board of Directors for the Houston/Gulf Coast CCIM Chapter. Zarcaro will take over the role from 2022 President, Kristen White. Other additions to the board include: Aaron Morris (President Elect), Andrew Nguyen (Treasurer), Dawn Brewer (Secretary), Kevin Riles (Director at Large) and Scott Carson (Director at Large).

The Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter was created in 1981, consisting of Houston and its surrounded counties. Since its founding, the chapter has grown from 30 members (with only a few CCIMs) to more than 350 members. It provides educational courses for accreditation, a mentoring program, and numerous other networking and community involvement opportunities.

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Houston Q1 Multifamily Market Insights: Houston Economy Likely to Post Strong Growth in 2022


Houston Multifamily market report snapshot for Q1 2022
  • The Houston multifamily market posted healthy growth during the first quarter. Renter demand is being fueled by an expanding economy, which has pushed rents higher and kept vacancies below the five-year average.
  • Vacancy in Houston remained stable at 5.7 percent for the third consecutive quarter. Despite no recent change in the rate, vacancies have still improved 50 basis points in the past year.
  • Asking rents continued to grow at a rapid pace as momentum carried over from the end of 2021. Rents rose 2.9 percent to $1,210 per month in the first quarter; year-over-year rents are up 11.4 percent.
  • In transactions where pricing was available, the median price in the first quarter was $184,000 per unit. Despite a rise in pricing, cap rates trended higher at 5 percent, an increase of 20 basis points compared to the average rate in 2021.

Read the report

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Houston Office visits Camp Hope to learn about innovative PTSD Program

The NorthMarq Houston office had the privilege of visiting Camp Hope last week to see firsthand the remarkable work being done for our veterans in need. Camp Hope is the only program in the United States of its kind, providing veterans suffering from combat-related PTSD a safe haven to recover with fellow servicemen.

Camp Hope’s primary goal is to drastically reduce the veteran suicide rate, which is sadly increasing year over year. We were inspired by the staff and facilities at Camp Hope, and we are committed to supporting our veterans through Camp Hope and the PTSD Foundation of America going forward.

NorthMarq is kicking off its support of Camp Hope by sponsoring their team at the upcoming annual BBQ Cook-Off Fundraiser on November 12. Please reach out if you’d like to join the “Houston Home Team” for a day of fun!

Some of the thoughts of the employees who toured Camp Hope:

  • Emily Zarcaro, VP: I was inspired by the dedication and passion the staff and board members showed for our veterans in need. The residents of Camp Hope are all fully committed to overcoming their combat trauma, and Camp Hope acts quickly and decisively to provide them the resources and environment they need in order to achieve that. There’s no shortage of demand for the people, services, and facilities that Camp Hope provides.
  • Cameron Gray, Analyst: The facility at Camp Hope transforms the lives of PTSD victims and their families by providing a safe/supportive environment. Not only do they treat the victims, they set them up for success in the future.
  • Matt Franke, SVP: Camp Hope’s peer to peer recovery program is a game changer. I witnessed true healing for our country’s best; volunteer combat vets. Keep up the excellent work.
  • Michael Borden, Analyst: I thought Camp Hope’s facilities were great and it was fantastic to hear from Vets that have gone through the program about their experiences. It seems like Camp Hope is truly making a difference.

Camp Hope offers a minimum of a six-month program that includes a two-month transitional program. Residents attend group lessons and support sessions with other combat veterans. They are provided with individual mentoring sessions with certified combat trauma mentors. Participants are also able to go on off-site small group interaction activities trips, such as camping, fishing, sporting events, and more. Many are encouraged to get involved with local churches, businesses, and volunteer organizations to assist in personal healing and educate the community on the invisible wounds of war.

No organization can live without its volunteers. Take a tour, sponsor a meal, or visit their website to learn how you can help the Veterans in this community. If you, or someone you know is suffering from the effects of PTSD of trauma related to combat, please visit their website, or call the 24-hout PTSD Veteran Crisis Line (877) 717-PTSD (7873).

Support Camp Hope on Amazon Smile
Camp Hope and Amazon Smile have partnered to donate a portion of your Amazon purchase to the foundation. It’s as easy to support as buying online. Go to Smile.Amazon.Com, select Camp Hope as the charity you’d like to donate to, and now every time you shop, Amazon donates to Camp Hope. Find out more here.

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Houston Q1 Multifamily Market Report: Apartment Fundamentals to Stabilize as Job Market Bounces Back


Houston Multifamily market report snapshot for Q1 2021
  • The Houston multifamily market posted a mixed performance during the first quarter. Rents rose but are still lower than year-earlier levels. The vacancy rate ticked higher but absorption was positive, and the uptick in the rate was a result of an active period of new development.
  • Vacancy in Houston rose 20 basis points in the first quarter, reaching 6.2 percent. The rate is up 80 basis points year over year.
  • Asking rents are down 1.6 percent year over year but did tick up at the start of 2021. During the first quarter, asking rents rose 0.4 percent, ending the quarter at $1,086 per month.
  • Future multifamily development will remain active. At the end of the first quarter, more than 50 apartment properties were under construction, totaling approximately 17,500 units.
  • In transactions where sales prices are available, the median price in the first quarter was $142,500 per unit. Cap rates continued to trend lower, dipping 25 basis points to approximately 5 percent.

Read the report

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Houston Q4 Multifamily Market Report: Sales Activity Surges, Despite Rise in Construction


Houston Multifamily market report snapshot for Q4 2020
  • The Houston multifamily market closed 2020 with a surge in new deliveries of apartments, pushing the vacancy rate higher. Construction is expected to be active in 2021 as well, but renter demand for apartments should accelerate as the economy gains momentum.
  • Vacancy ticked up 30 basis points in the fourth quarter, reaching 6 percent. For the year, the rate rose 50 basis points, but current vacancy levels remain below the market’s cyclical high from a few years ago.
  • After a decade of annual gains averaging between 3 percent and 5 percent, Houston apartment rents declined in 2020. Asking rents dipped 1.8 percent, ending the year at $1,082 per month.
  • Multifamily sales activity accelerated in the fourth quarter. The median price rose in 2020, advancing 4 percent from 2019 to $137,800 per unit, while cap rates compressed to an average of 5.2 percent.

Read the report

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New Hope Housing receives 2020 Community Grant from NorthMarq’s Houston office

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (December 7, 2020) — NorthMarq’s Houston office provided a 2020 Community Involvement Grant to New Hope Housing, a charitable organization based in Houston, Texas.

New Hope Housing’s mission is to provide life stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing with support services for people who live on limited incomes and to be an enduring institution servicing Houston’s most vulnerable residents. Kerry French and Kristi Johnson in NorthMarq’s Houston office nominated the organization to receive the 2020 Community Grant.

New Hope Housing provided the following activities which were impacted by NorthMarq’s donation:

  • Neared completion of construction on New Hope Housing Dale Carnegie.
  • Finalized design and secured funding for New Hope Housing Avenue J.
  • Bolstered the organization’s Resident Services Program, allowing them to serve more underserved and disadvantaged families.
  • Began implementing the organization’s Strategic Plan for the future, which includes drastically increasing affordable housing development to meet Houston’s great need, especially after Hurricane Harvey.

    “I’ve had the honor of getting to know New Hope Housing through multiple years serving on the Housing and Community Development Product Council for ULI in Houston. They currently have eight communities operating in Houston (and one under development) that provide services and tools to rebuild the lives of those whose lives have been broken,” said Johnson. “Each community treats its residents with dignity and respect, which you can see from the design and construction of the properties—several of which are LEED silver or LEED gold-certified with innovative architectural design and/or original art on the walls.”

    New Hope Housing has had to pivot its services to care for individuals and families for whom a chronic health condition (such as a Coronavirus infection) could be disproportionately impactful. With the health of its residents and staff paramount, New Hope Housing remains committed to serving its residents during COVID-19 and the tough winter months ahead.

    “We have prioritized immediate needs such as food security for all residents. We are working closely with our collaborative partners and funders to make certain that no resident goes hungry and no one goes without what they need to remain engaged, safe, and healthy. We are building supports for families with children who have been displaced from normal school activities,” said Nicole Cassier-Mason, Vice President- Fund Development/Communications. “NorthMarq’s important support has provided the tools to help us stabilize lives and prevent homelessness by addressing the affordable housing crisis in Houston.”

    In the third year of NorthMarq’s Community Involvement Grant program, the company has awarded grants to 18 non-profits in 16 cities. The program solicits nominations from each local office, and had an increase of 20 percent from 2019, with a total of 18 non-profits focused on affordable housing and reducing homelessness receiving these grants in 2020. NorthMarq’s 2020 grant to New Hope Housing represents its third award under the Community Involvement Grant program.
Kristi Johnson presented members of New Hope Housing with a 2020 NorthMarq Community Giving Grant. L to R: Candace Smith, Nicole Cassier-Mason, Kristi Johnson and Kayla Hand.
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Houston Q3 Multifamily Market Report: Absorption Positive but Cooling, Fueling Vacancy Uptick


Houston Multifamily market report snapshot for Q3 2020
  • The Houston multifamily market recorded some softening during the third quarter, but current vacancy and rents are not dramatically different than levels from one year ago. There is uncertainty surrounding the pace and the timing of an economic recovery, which is expected to weigh on market sentiment in the coming quarters.
  • Apartment vacancy in Houston ticked up 10 basis points during the third quarter, following a 20-basis-point increase in the second quarter. At 5.7 percent, the current vacancy rate is 40 basis points higher than one year ago.
  • After posting minimal increases in recent periods, local asking rents fell 0.8 percent during the third quarter, ending the period at $1,096 per month. Year over year, asking rents in the Houston metro are up just 0.2 percent.
  • Sales of apartment buildings remained modest during the third quarter, and transactions year to date are lagging 2019 levels by nearly 45 percent. In transactions that are closing, prices have inched higher from the 2019 median price, while cap rates have compressed slightly.

Read the report

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Matt Franke appears as featured guest on Diamonds in the Rough in Real Estate

Matt Franke, senior vice president in NorthMarq’s Houston market, joined David Flores on his video blog Diamonds in The Rough on May 29. The discussion focused on the current “Covid Market;” upcoming forecasts; the reliability of agency lenders such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA/HUD; and the reemergence of life company lenders. “But other debt platforms, such as CMBS, remain very locked up right now and not a viable source. So we need those groups to get back into the market in a competitive way before you can start to see any level of normalcy,” said Franke.

See the full interview here.

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NorthMarq acquires Houston-based Kinghorn, Driver, Hough & Co (KDH)

Adds nearly $2 billion of loan servicing, eight debt/equity producers

MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 6, 2020) — NorthMarq, a leader in commercial real estate capital markets, announces the acquisition of Kinghorn, Driver, Hough & Co. (KDH), a Houston, Texas-based commercial debt and equity firm deeply rooted in the Houston real estate community. Ray Driver, principal of KDH, will join Tony Gray and John Burke as a managing director of NorthMarq’s Houston office.

The acquisition brings two well-known debt and equity groups together to create one of the largest and most experienced firms in the Houston market. Founded in 1945, KDH is the oldest, independently owned, commercial real estate capital company in the state of Texas. KDH’s principals previously held an ownership position in the Q10 network of privately held commercial real estate capital firms. NorthMarq’s Houston office dates back to 1949; it was acquired by NorthMarq in 1998.

KDH’s eight additional mortgage banking professionals and five financial analysts bring the total employees in the expanded NorthMarq office to nearly 30. In addition to the firm’s mortgage banking professionals, KDH also brings a nearly $2 billion loan servicing portfolio, extending NorthMarq’s servicing portfolio to more than $60 billion.

“NorthMarq’s growth through finding firms with the right cultural fit continues with KDH. We are excited to integrate them into our firm, where they can benefit from our platform, and we can benefit from their experience, along with their strong lender and client relationships,” said Jeffrey Weidell, NorthMarq’s CEO.

“Our personalities and ethics align very well, and most of us have known each other for many years. The value for our clients will be the expanded platform of capital sources, especially NorthMarq’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac relationships,” said Driver. “The other significant motive for us is NorthMarq’s expanding investment sales business. That service speeds up deal flow and opportunities for clients.”

Last year, NorthMarq acquired Texas Realty Capital in Austin, which expanded the footprint to four offices in Texas. NorthMarq’s growing investment sales business in Texas is based in Dallas and led by Taylor Snoddy. That team finished 2019 with record transaction volume of nearly $1.3 billion.

According to Burke, “Each of us has institutional capital and regional client relationships that will offer great synergy for our company and for our clients. The overall combination of our larger team of professionals and capital sources will really propel NorthMarq forward in Houston.”

In business since 1960, NorthMarq offers debt, equity, investment sales, and loan servicing and has grown to nearly 600 employees through more than 20 acquisitions. In Texas, the company has offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

About NorthMarq
As a capital markets leader, NorthMarq offers commercial real estate investors access to experts in debt, equity, investment sales, and loan servicing to protect and add value to their assets. For capital sources, we offer partnership and financial acumen that support long- and short-term investment goals. Our culture of integrity and innovation is evident in our 60-year history, annual transaction volume of $15 billion, loan servicing portfolio to more than $60 billion and the multi-year tenure of our nearly 600 people.

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NorthMarq’s Houston office awards New Hope Housing with grant

HOUSTON, TEXAS (December 26, 2019) – NorthMarq’s Houston regional office recently presented New Hope Housing with a $5,000 grant as part of its mission to provide life-stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing with support services for people who live on very limited incomes.

New Hope Housing is an award-winning, debt-free organization that has brought 1,200 units of safe, affordable housing in eight locations throughout Houston.

“New Hope Housing assists the most vulnerable in our community and is helping them climb out of homelessness,” said Kerry French, managing director of NorthMarq’s Houston office. “With Houston experiencing some of the highest housing costs increases in the country, we need organizations like New Hope to address the issue. Our team here in Houston couldn’t be more proud to support this worthy organization.”

In 2018, New Hope Housing broke ground on the NHH Dale Carnegie Development, Houston’s first affordable housing community since Hurricane Harvey. The 170-unit property is fully furnished and features 280 and 360 sq. ft. units within an amenity-filled neighborhood. The LEED certified building is scheduled for completion in the fall 2020.

The Houston office’s grant is part of NorthMarq’s larger initiative to support organizations addressing homelessness and affordable housing. NorthMarq awarded grants to 12 organizations in 11 different cities across the county. Check out the story here.

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NorthMarq featured in REBusinessOnline: Houston Multifamily Occupancy, Rent Growth Return to Normal After Setbacks

Houston’s multifamily market has endured battles from all fronts in recent years: the oil slump, hurricanes, flooding, overbuilding in select submarkets, sluggish rent growth of late and lavish concessions to new renters that have been mainstays during this period. But the market now appears to be moving in the right direction with a sense of normalcy.

From late 2014, when the oil downturn began, through the price bottoming in early 2016, Houston’s energy economy consistently made headlines across the nation’s publications. Each article claimed that at lower oil prices, the city’s over-reliance on energy would shut off job creation and growth.

Yet this period also provided an opportunity to illuminate the incredible diversity within the greater Houston economy. Up until the oil downturn, the city’s diversity had been theoretical and unproven; now, along with the city’s resilience, it is indelible.

Expanded activity at Port Houston, particularly in terms of manufacturing, in addition to plastics and petrochemicals, has propelled Houston’s job growth. The same applies to the market’s emerging role as a logistics hub and the expansion of the Texas Medical Center and regional healthcare providers, as well as strong growth in financial services and construction sectors. All told, the metro area added about 86,000 new jobs during the 12-month period between April 2018 and 2019, according to Greater Houston Partnership.

Multifamily investors have taken note of the economic diversification and ensuing job growth, coupled with natural in-migration and a relatively limited pipeline of new supply. In 2018, only 8,000 or so new units hit the market — a scant 1.7 percent of the total inventory. Absorption has been stronger with improved economic conditions in Houston, particularly in submarkets with limited new construction or where Hurricane Harvey reduced supply levels.

Due to these factors, Houston’s multifamily fundamentals have improved significantly since the oil slump began. The significant decrease in deliveries over the past year and absorption following Hurricane Harvey helped the market snap back to equilibrium.

Class A rents are seeing modest growth due to more supply coming on line and pressures on the renter-by-choice segment of the market. Class B rent growth of almost 2 percent has stemmed from the renter-by-necessity segment. Supply continues to dwindle and the discrepancy between Class A and B rents is expanding due to rising construction costs.

Landlords are beginning to burn off concessions and see stable levels of rent growth that can justify bringing their properties to market. The outlook remains favorable given the current, projected and diverse job growth in Houston. But an increasing supply of new construction and damaged units coming back on line could impact that outlook.

Click here for more on the overall market, increases in deal volume and final thoughts.

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Chad Owens featured in National Real Estate Investor

Chad Owens, vice president of NorthMarq’s Houston-based regional office provided his insight in a National Real Estate Investor article titled, “Are Lenders Shying Away from the Retail Sector?” While volatility and U.S. retail sector uncertainty has made lenders cautious, Owens noted that “the right deals are getting financing.”

Owens highlighted the fact that December retail sales dropped 1.2 percent—the biggest decline in nine years—while the street’s projections indicated they should have risen 0.2 percent.

“A lot of that ‘noise’ hasn’t been ignored by lenders, but it’s nothing new. We’re dealing with the headwinds of the Amazon effect, coupled with a lot of bankruptcies within the retail space, so you have all of this noise to deal with.”

Despite challenges, Owens says there’s still available capital for good deals.

Check out the full story

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Impact of value-add on multifamily buyers: Hitchcock’s perspective featured in Texas Real Estate Business

Texas Real Estate Business recently featured Warren Hitchcock, senior vice president/senior director of NorthMarq Capital’s Houston regional office, in an article beginning on the front page of its September 2018 issue. In the story, titled “Value-Add Opens Doors for Multifamily Buyers,” Hitchcock notes that “The transaction velocity for value-add multifamily deals has been at historical highs in this cycle. The significant amount of capital flowing into the space, combined with the general lack of Class A product for sale, has pushed buyers toward the potential higher returns of the Class B and C value-creation deals.”

Read the full story here.

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NorthMarq Capital’s Houston office holds client and lender reception

Distinguished lenders from Maine, Atlanta, all the way to Newport Beach – joined NMC Houston for their Client & Lender Reception Wednesday, May 16. While honoring lenders, this was a great opportunity for all to acquaint over an evening of cocktails and dinner in the heart of Houston!

NorthMarq Capital's William Hanley & Savannah Tufts enjoy an evening of fun with one of our distinguished lenders, Jacquelyn Cleveland from Symetra.

NorthMarq Capital’s William Hanley & Savannah Tufts enjoy an evening of fun with one of our distinguished lenders, Jacquelyn Cleveland from Symetra.

L to R: Blane Eikenhorst (NMC), Ryan McIver (Voya), Tim Borel (John Hancock), Jacquelyn Cleveland (Symetra), Warren Hitchcock (NMC), Savannah Tufts (NMC), Chad Owens (NMC), Hollan Hensley (NMC), Jason Hull (Sabal), Bryan Polizzotta (UNUM) and Matt Bronstein (NMC).

L to R: Blane Eikenhorst (NMC), Ryan McIver (Voya), Tim Borel (John Hancock), Jacquelyn Cleveland (Symetra), Warren Hitchcock (NMC), Savannah Tufts (NMC), Chad Owens (NMC), Hollan Hensley (NMC), Jason Hull (Sabal), Bryan Polizzotta (UNUM) and Matt Bronstein (NMC).

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Insight on the state of the capital markets from the Mortgage Bankers Association CREF/Multifamily Convention and Expo

NorthMarq Capital’s Houston team recently joined 100 NorthMarq colleagues from across the nation at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Conference in San Diego. The Conference attracted over 3,000 attendees for the purpose of networking, relationship building and deal making. NorthMarq received market updates from variety of capital sources including life insurance companies, pension funds, CMBS shops, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, regional and national banks, and debt funds.

Overall, the market sentiment for commercial real estate investing remains very optimistic. Most capital sources seek to deploy an equal or greater amount of total capital deployed in 2017. Additional highlights from CREF are detailed below:

With more capital to deploy, lenders continue to offer favorable loan terms.  Life companies and CMBS lenders continue to offer interest-only options for moderately leveraged, high-quality assets. Many life companies are also considering longer loan terms (up to 30-35 years) given the increased availability of capital.

Leverage trends remain stable, with most life companies issuing debt in the 50-70 percent LTV range. CMBS lenders are more likely to offer loans approaching 75 percent LTV in 2018 given their better understanding of risk retention. Life companies, CMBS lenders, and select bridge lenders continue to offer non-recourse loans. With the end of the current real estate cycle looming, borrowers are advised to take advantage of their non-recourse options. (Lending activity in 2009 proved that short memories are dangerous, as commercial banks refused to extend loans without large reductions in proceeds and borrower recourse/guarantees). Given the varying degrees of non-recourse, leverage, and interest-only available, the current lending environment offers flexibility to borrowers seeking specialized financing solutions for quality assets.

Lenders are preparing for all possible scenarios given the current economic and political climate. Strong job and economic growth have caused the Federal Reserve to increase rates and reduce its balance sheet. The 10-year US Treasury yield has climbed more than 70 basis points since September 2018, but spreads have compressed 30 to 40 basis points to offset some of the rate increase. Most participants forecasted a continued hike in interest rates throughout the coming year, indicating that borrowers should lock rate sooner rather than later. To mitigate interest rate risk, many lenders are giving borrowers the option to lock rate on a forward basis, generally up to 12 months prior to refinance or stabilization.

Multi-family and industrial continue to be the favored property types commanding the best loan terms.   Lenders continue to lend conservatively on office and strip retail properties. Retail lending is more selective as lenders favor service-oriented retailers over big box retailers that are susceptible to competition from e-commerce sites.

Life insurance company lenders continue to desire moderately leveraged, high quality mortgage loans. As such, spreads have compressed significantly in recent months. Life companies are consistently offering spreads below 130 bps for moderately leveraged (60-65 percent) deals. Due to the lack of available portfolio refinance opportunities, many lending sources are anticipated to pursue deals they may have passed on during times of higher deal volumes.

CMBS lenders are very active in the market after an exceptional second half of 2017. The high demand for CMBS bonds coupled with lower deal volumes has caused CMBS originators to offer aggressive terms and attractive pricing. With a greater understanding of risk retention, major CMBS lenders have successfully restructured their lending platforms and many originators are offering loans up to 75 percent of value. CMBS lenders are also improving the borrower’s loan servicing experience by increasing pay to master servicers and pre-approving borrower requests.

Regional banks and credit unions have implemented conservative underwriting standards due to new regulations and economic concerns. However, anticipated regulatory rollbacks are expected to help free up lending capacity. Historically, banks have taken more event risk than non-recourse lenders due to the additional layer of mitigation provided by borrower recourse.

Due to tightening underwriting standards and regulator demands, construction lending by banks has been less available, and greater equity has been required from the borrower. This dynamic has caused a number of life companies and debt funds to fill the void in 2018.  As such, many life insurance companies are offering construction to permanent loan programs with a forward rate lock component. These programs allow borrowers to lock rate during the construction phase, and the loan converts to a permanent loan upon completion/lease-up.

As investors continue to chase yield, private equity firms and debt funds have more money available for bridge lending, preferred equity, and mezzanine financing than ever before. Select bridge lenders also offer bridge financing at rates as low as 250 above LIBOR. Bridge loans continue to be an excellent option for borrowers seeking future funds (to cover lease-up, capex, or tenant build-out) on a non-recourse basis.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae continue to offer excellent terms for stabilized multifamily product. Total annual allocations for 2018 are consistent with 2017 levels, and both agencies are able to offer acquisition loans up to 80 percent LTV (contingent upon debt coverage hurdles).  Quoted spreads remain competitive, particularly for Green Up and Green Rewards executions. The Green Up and Green Rewards programs have become increasingly popular among borrowers due to the attractive energy savings and spread reduction. Through the Green Up execution, the borrower receives a reduction in spread for making capital improvements that yield a 25 percent savings in water and/or electricity expense. Quoted spreads for Green Up executions range from 130 basis points to 180 basis points. Conventional spreads currently range from 155 basis points to 210 basis points.

Given compressed spreads and lower deal volumes in the market, attractive loan opportunities continue to garner strong interest from multiple lenders, creating better financing options for borrowers. Lenders are also more likely to add structure to complex deals in order to deploy more capital in 2018.  Lenders seeking distinction within a competitive lending environment now offer more liberal terms, including prepayment flexibility, forward rate locks, and limited carve-outs that assign liability to the borrowing entity only. Despite the rising rate environment, the 2018 forecast remains positive for borrowers given the availability of capital and increased lending flexibility.

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Houston’s economy weathers the storm: City moves full-steam ahead as flood waters recede

Despite the concentration of energy-related employment and Hurricane Harvey’s temporary market disruption, Houston’s economic progress continues to prove the city’s resilience and diversity. Key indicators of economic growth suggest that Houston made large strides toward a full recovery in 2017. Payroll employment reached an all-time high and energy prices began to stabilize as demand for crude increased. Manufacturing and foreign trade activity also increased as Houston’s production of durable goods and chemical products offset losses in the E&P sector. Read the full story here.

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Hurricane Harvey update and the effect on Houston economy

On August 25 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast and dropped over 50 inches of rain in certain areas surrounding Houston; creating a massive flooding disaster never seen before. How will this impact the Houston Economy and Real Estate market? Before the Storm, the overall Houston Economy began recovering and the local economy has shown tremendous resiliency & diversity, as the market returns to one of the Nation’s leading job creators once again. Houston experienced an increase in employment of 54,200 over the previous 12 months and recent population growth is estimated at over 150,000 people in 2016 according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in July of 2017 and recent Census reports.

First, it is important to note that the majority of the city overall fared well during and after the storm. The media has focused on the worst of the damage, however Downtown was back up and running in 24 hours, the Med Center had very little water damage, and most areas dried quickly after the storm passed. The Bad news: Certain areas, along bayous, which were prone to flood, did flood.  The Good news: After the disaster passed  99.5 percent of people are able to remain in their homes, 94 percent of homes suffered no damage, at any given point, more than 98 percent of Houstonians have electric power, and 92 percent of Houstonians never lose power according to local construction firm Linbeck & Government Reports. Average, everyday citizens step up in a big way to take care of family, friends, and neighbors. Many areas of the city were sparred the worst of the flooding. The above-mentioned deluge of water was not reported in most of the city, the two airports received 20-22″ of rain during the entire storm and many areas received much less.

Click for flood assessment map.

The common reaction is to compare this to other similar natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina as an example, however most experts doubt that Houston will experience anything close to the post-hurricane symptoms suffered by New Orleans. “Houston is not New Orleans. It’s a large, diverse, fast growing economy,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Analytics. While the city’s unemployment rate is now above the national average following the downturn in oil prices, it has been improving, falling to 5.3 percent recently. This event will reinforce many of the job growth trends in Houston, mostly among the blue-collar workforce as major infrastructure projects were delayed or damaged by the storm and will be in need of completion or repair. Additionally construction, renovation, and rebuilding projects large & small across the city will begin.

Chart 1

Property Damage Assessment:
Initial analysis by Costar & Yardi Matrix has found that the damage to office and multifamily properties was less than what could have transpired given the record rainfall. Further, Harvey’s aftereffects will provide a boost to fundamentals in the short term, as demand for living space from residents (mostly homeowners) displaced by the storm will boost multifamily occupancies. Houston’s multifamily universe consists of 616,000 units, roughly 157,000 of which are in areas identified as flood zones. Damage to units in flood zones was much higher than in non-flood zones. Initial Estimates are that between 45,000 and 72,000 units-or 7-11 percent of the multifamily universe-were rendered potentially uninhabitable. Therefore, the occupancy rate is expected to rise sharply and rent growth to turn moderately positive in the near term.

Harvey damaged or destroyed some 127,600 single-family homes in the Houston area, according to the most recent data from the Texas Division of Emergency Management. We expect that many displaced households will move into apartments in the short term, which will fill up most of the approximately 45,000 vacant units in the metro. Demand will likely be highest among Class-A units, which will be sought after by homeowners that want a comparable quality of life. Lower income apartment properties in the Class-B/C space are also likely to be mostly filled by displaced residents or construction and remediation workers. Our expectation is that Houston rent growth will turn moderately positive in upcoming months. The boost to fundamentals should be strong up front and begin to tail off within a year, but there should be an ongoing benefit over the long term from the combination of higher demand, less overall stock and reduced deliveries, as construction is focused on critical infrastructure and repair of existing units.

Some multifamily experts say there may not be enough apartment supply to meet the sudden increase in demand. Bruce McClenny, MetroStudy, told HBJ that he expects the demand to be significant for the next 6-12 months, however this will decrease as people fix their homes and leave temporary apartment lodging. Apartment managers will also begin repairing units and have more supply available to lease, which could take up to a year to remediate & renovate. “The positive impacts have been immediate, however there be more supply (slowly come on line), which is one of those dynamics that’s opposite of what just happened,” he said.

The flood had a relatively mild impact on most commercial property types. A few dozen office buildings suffered some damage, but that was a relatively small proportion of a segment with more than 220 million square feet. What’s more, reports are that the entire downtown office market was fully functioning in less than a week. Moody’s estimates that 6-8% of industrial land was damaged. A much bigger impact was felt in the energy sector. The Gulf Coast is home to the nation’s largest oil refineries.  An estimated 30 percent of U.S. refining capacity was shut down, and much of that could remain offline for weeks. The result will be a drawdown in reserves and a 10-20 percent increase in gasoline prices nationally for the next few months.


There is no doubt that the Texas Gulf Coast withstood a historical Hurricane event which led to devastation in Port Aransas & Rockport, and massive flooding in Houston, Beaumont, & Port Arthur.  This will take years to rebuild, which means FEMA & insurance companies will inject many billions of dollars into the recovery. Other economic stimuli will come from replacement of the more than 500,000 vehicles that were damaged and as much as $10 billion of infrastructure that must be repaired.

“The catastrophe from Harvey will produce a ripple throughout the Houston economy. I would expect occupancy to rise among self-storage, apartment, and hotel properties. Pre-Harvey, all three of these property types were overbuilt, so this will help current owners, assuming the property is not damaged or destroyed. Property repairs will be a boon for job growth, along with new residential construction. This wave will be temporary as the property types attempt to regain equilibrium, but it could last for several years.”

Specific Comments from MetroStudy

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John Burke, Houston leader, selected for NorthMarq Capital’s top company award for 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (September 6, 2016) – John Burke, senior vice president/managing director of NorthMarq’s Houston office, was selected as the recipient of NorthMarq Capital’s top employee award for 2016. Ed Padilla, CEO- NorthMarq Capital, presented the O’Brien/Klebanoff award to Burke at the company’s internal production conference, held in Park City, Utah Aug. 29-30, 2016.

“This award recognizes an employee who performs at an exceptional level, with direct impact on the company’s financial performance and enterprise value, and has upheld the company’s standards consistently over his career,” said Padilla. “John is the heart and soul of the Houston office, always willing to give his time and expertise to clients and coworkers.”

The award, named for two long-time, well-respected employees—Mike O’Brien and Marty Klebanoff—has been awarded annually for 30 years.

Burke has been with the company and its predecessor since 1985 and is managing director of the Houston office, which has 20 employees. During his real estate finance and investment banking career, he has been responsible for originating and closing over 300 debt and equity transactions totaling over $4 billion. He is an active member of the Mortgage Bankers Association, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Association of Office and Industrial Properties, and is a licensed salesman in the State of Texas.

Burke began his career at Houston National Bank as a bank officer and construction lender and moved into mortgage banking in 1982 with the Ben McGuire Company. In 1985, he along with the late Ken Stockton, Bill Luedemann and Kerry French, started Stockton, Luedemann and French, which was acquired by NorthMarq Capital.

A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Finance, Burke is married and has three sons and two grandchildren.

About NorthMarq Capital
NorthMarq Capital, the largest privately held commercial real estate financial intermediary in the U.S., provides debt, equity and commercial loan servicing through its 36 offices across the U.S. The company has built long-term relationships with life companies, CMBS platforms and local, regional and national banks and has a long track record of multi-family loan origination through Freddie Mac Program Plus™, the Fannie Mae DUS program and through FHA, resulting in nearly $13 billion in annual production volume and a loan portfolio of more than $47 billion. For more information please visit northmarqcap.wpengine.com.

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Warren Hitchcock featured in Bisnow for financing of office building in one of Houston’s toughest submarkets

Despite the state of oil and financing across the country, NorthMarq Capital’s Warren Hitchcock was able to arrange acquisition financing for Tower Park North, an 181,000 sq. ft. office building in Greenspoint. Warren spoke exclusively to Bisnow about the contrarian play in one of the city’s toughest submarkets.

How did Warren arrange financing that initially more than 40 lenders passed on? Find out here…

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Warren Hitchcock featured in Bisnow for “Pulling off the Impossible Financing Job”

It’s an assignment no one would envy—trying to finance two office buildings just as oil prices are free-falling. One was 27% occupied and the other had an energy tenant go out of business during the process. But NorthMarq Capital’s Warren Hitchcock got them both done, and says his recent activity shows that lenders have realized Houston isn’t falling off the map.

Both properties are in The Woodlands, and Warren, who’s been active in that market, gives a lot of credit to the J Beard Co. The first deal was a complicated acquisition bridge loan for Vision Park office building (27% occupied at time of application). By closing, J Beard had brought it up to 40% and had more LOIs. One of NorthMarq’s correspondent life companies funded it with a five-year fixed-rate loan at 65% of acquisition cost and 70% of good news money for future build-outs and leasing commissions. The interest rate was in the 5% range.

Find out how Warren provided financing solutions for a difficult situation…

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