Why Credit Tenant Lease (CTL) Loans Have Been Closing While Traditional Lending has Faltered

Throughout the credit and liquidity crisis that started several years ago and continues today, credit tenant lease (CTL) lending has remained relatively healthy. Indeed, CTL has been a welcomed bright spot in commercial real estate finance. CTL bankers never lost their appetite for originating loans and never lacked the liquidity it takes to fund them.

Why is it that CTL finance is able to thrive while almost all other forms of lending continue to struggle? There are several factors that contribute to the resiliency of CTL.

First is the fact that CTL loans are only made against real estate that is net leased (triple net [NNN], double net [NN] or bondable) on a long term basis to a single very stable, very strong corporate tenant. To qualify for a CTL loan a building or plot of land must be net leased to what is known as an “investment grade” or “credit” tenant. A credit tenant is one that enjoys a credit rating of BBB+ or better from the rating agency Standard & Poors and/or Ba1 or better from Moody’s. Because CTL loans only deal with strong tenants there is less risk to lenders and, subsequently, deals are easier to close.

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Another factor that contributes to the strength of the CTL market is the fact that virtually all CTL loans are non-recourse. The borrowers finances will be checked out to see if they have enough money to pay any required closing costs but borrowers are not underwritten and won’t be on the hook if a loan defaults. Because lenders are not overly concerned with the financial strength of the borrower there are less things that can crop up and derail the lending process. Basically, if the lease and the tenant pass muster a loan will close.

CTL is a very straight forward process. Experienced CTL bankers know what will work and what will not. Because the private placement bonds that fund CTL loans are sold to insurance companies, pension funds, trusts and commercial banks, there are very strict criteria for qualification with no wiggle room or discretion allowed. Most CTL lenders will be able to tell you if a deal is doable after just one reading of the lease and they only accept deals they know they can get funded. If a CTL banker issues a letter of intent or term sheet for a deal, you can count on financing with a very high degree of confidence.
The standardized nature of CTL loans means that borrowers can get a definitive yes or no very quickly, and if the answer is yes they can count on funding.

Finally, the last reason for the relative health of the CTL market is that CTL lending and net lease investing is not necessarily correlated with traditional lending or regular real estate investing.

CTL lending is, in reality, a specialized form of commercial real estate investment banking. Investment bankers that make CTL loans fund deals by creating securities and selling them to investors, not by loaning capital or selling mortgages to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac the way banks do.

Net lease investing (especially single tenant, NNN lease) is not the same as traditional real estate investing. In-fact net lease investing is actually a sophisticated form of fixed income investing. Traditional real estate investing typically involves running and managing a property or otherwise adding value to a transaction (such as refurbishing). Most net lease investors don’t have any landlord responsibilities or any physical or emotional connection to the real estate at all; most have never even visited the buildings they own. They buy and hold for the monthly income that a lease produces; they look at their real estate the same way other income investors look at bonds.

All this is to say that net lease investing and the CTL finance that goes along with it is a niche market and is much less affected by liquidity problems at banks or the ups and downs of the traditional real estate markets. This non-correlation allowed the CTL finance sector to continue to grow and thrive while the rest of the world experienced a severe shortage of capital.

There is no liquidity crunch in CTL finance. Investors with property that is net (NNN, NN or bondable) leased on a long term basis to a single, investment grade tenant will find that they have a dependable source of capital available to buy, refinance or build their real estate projects.

Read More Articles on Commercial Real Estate Finance –  Click Here – And Here

 

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