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February 13, 2012

Bright Future for TIC Lending in San Francisco

I was invited to a TIC Roundtable last Friday sponsored by Sterling Bank and Trust. The officers and lender reps were in attendance, as was TIC attorney Lyssa Paul. We had an interesting Q&A about Sterling’s goals in the TIC lending arena, as well as identified a few trends in the TIC market—all while sitting 40 stories up in the Transamerica Building.

A few highlights:
The outlook for long-term TIC financing is strong. Sterling has consistently underwritten TIC loans, while other lenders have been in and out of the market. The bank’s conservative underwriting approach allows it to assume less risk and therefore grant loans. They also plan on increasing their TIC loan volume, and are pleased with the headway they’ve made in the past six years in San Francisco. Also, it’s unlikely that a secondary market is going to materialize for TIC loans.

TIC loans will continue with three-, five- and seven-year ARMs. The reason there are not longer-term loans that can more effectively fix low interest rates is because Sterling is a community bank that funds loans through its security deposits and short-term funding sources. So they have to match what they loan with what they pay on interest-bearing accounts. So there are no plans for a 30-year fixed loan in the near future.

First-time home buyers still rule as TIC purchasers. Sterling reports that 80% of its TIC borrowers are first-time home buyers. The other TIC purchasers seem to be cash buyers looking for pied-a-terres in the city, most notably in north-end neighborhoods.

TIC loans continue to perform well. Of the 800 or so fractional loans Sterling has on its books, only about eight of those loans were connected to foreclosure or a short sale. And the latter only occurred in the past couple years. The foreclosures were related to homeowners who had gone into the purchase with only 10% down; Sterling briefly offered that option, but doesn’t do so any longer for obvious reasons.

TIC agreements are still critical. Attorney Lyssa Paul says that one of the main issues that consistently arises is the lack of a TIC group’s ability to produce a current TIC agreement. Either some groups didn’t have one drawn up, or they haven’t updated them.

Buyers and sellers need to update TIC agreements during a sale. Sellers and buyers need to be aware that whenever there is a TIC interest transfer, it’s necessary to engage an attorney to remove the seller’s name from the TIC agreement and replace it with the buyer’s name. And all TIC group owners need to additionally sign the updated agreement. This has apparently been a factor that has delayed TIC closings.

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