AS I WRITE THIS, STOCKS ARE SINKING. THE DOW HAS JUST PLUNGED 230 POINTS TO ITS FIRST CLOSE BELOW 8000 IN TWO MONTHS, and the NASDAQ is down 36. Investors are being pelted with sour economic news. And yet, on the positive side of things, mortgage rates are at record lows. Thirty-year fixed rates are at an average 6.05 percent, the lowest on Freddie Mac's records since 1971. Fifteen-year mortgages are at their lowest since 1991. A chief economist for Freddie Mac attributes the drop, in part, to nervous investors concerned over the falling stock and the possibility of war in the Middle East.
As the housing sector continues to pulsate throughout the fall months, commercial real estate certainly isn't suffering. As you'll read from this month's finance experts, the low interest-rate environment makes this the ideal time to finance or refinance self-storage projects. According to Eric Snyder, Buchanan Street Partners, the self-storage financing market is providing the lowest interest rates in more than 40 years on construction, bridge and permanent loans. But while lenders are budgeting for large loan volumes in 2003, they will be stringent in their underwriting.
For borrowers, this necessitates detail, organization and diligence when compiling a loan package. Lenders will be looking keenly at potential markets and locations, and placing heavy weight on candidates' self-storage experience. Snyder outlines what a solid package should contain for construction and permanent loans. RK Kliebenstein, Coast-To-Coast, follows up with detailed lists of loan-request essentials and supporting loan documents, as well as a comprehensive glossary of common financial terms.
With interest rates being as attractive as they are, the difficult decision may not lie in whether to make a purchase or refinance an existing facility. What remains is to choose the correct loan program and type of lender for your project. David Smyle, Benchmark Financial, discusses popular lending parameters and institutions, helping to narrow the field. Neal Gussis, Beacon Realty Capital, highlights potential obstacles and conditions of which to be aware, particularly when refinancing.
Finally, as Inside Self-Storage hosts its first international expo in London this month, it is interesting to consider how self-storage finance is evolving in the budding overseas industry, where finding capital is the greatest barrier to entry. In this month's World Watch, Andrew Donaldson tells of a "fairy tale" benchmark deal that produced not only profits, but evidence to convince skeptical bank managers of the viability of the self-storage product. It is our hope, with greater education of the U.K. business community, this barrier can be dissolved, opening new avenues for finance and development.
While the Dow may be down, self-storage is not. Let's keep it that way.
Teri L. Lanza