Firm Capital established a track record as a leading non-bank lender in Canada providing bridge financing – 1st and 2nd mortgages, land financing, construction financing, secondary debt on investment properties, subordinated debt and J/V equity capital. The company’s market knowledge, deal structuring expertise and proprietary capital including the publicly traded Firm Capital Mortgage Investment Corporation (FC–T), operating since 1999 allows the company to provide quick turnaround when it comes to structuring deals.
As we enter fall, we see the GTA housing market continue to be a sellers’ market with August new listings in the region falling to 10,609, a 43% drop from 18,599 last year and a 15.0% drop from July. However, August home sales of 8,596 resulted in a 19.9% drop from the same time last year yet prices increased. Price increases are also taking place in the pre-construction condo market, the principal of a leading sales company that focuses on sales for the pre-construction condo market expects prices for triple A downtown locations to be in the $2,000 p.s.f. range this fall with less desirable downtown locations in the $1,300 to $1,475 p.s.f. range. In the suburbs, North York and Mississauga, prices are expected to be in the $1,300 p.s.f. range.
The consensus is that measures in the federal policy platforms will not be enough to make a meaningful difference to housing affordability. Despite the boost in federal spending on housing initiatives the increase in rents and house prices has fallen short of making a difference to housing affordability. The most recent number of households with core housing needs stands at a significant 1.7 million.
Price increases in the new condo market are positive news for developers, however margins are still under pressure from inflationary increases in hard costs as well as increases in soft costs (professional fees, development charges and increased carrying costs) primarily relating to longer entitlement periods. “Given that pre-development time periods have been pushed out to 3-5 years and sometimes longer we are seeing more bridge financing opportunities to assist developers with land financing and pre-development loans. We are very experienced when it comes to structuring these types of transactions to help developers get in a position to advance their projects; our exit comes from bank funding,” said Michael Carragher, Vice President, Mortgage Investments.
Over the last 5 years we have completed $3.8 billion in debt transactions. We pride ourselves in understanding a transaction quickly and providing deal structures that meet the needs of our clients, including first and second mortgages. Our loans can range from $1.0 million to $50.0 million and may go up to $100 million for select opportunities. Loan facilities are typically interest only, with terms ranging from 12 to 24 months. Our team comprises seasoned veterans with a multi-cycle track record of experience who work closely with our clients to achieve successful results for all stakeholders.
Our focus is to work with small and large private developers who operate in the major urban markets across Canada; we are also comfortable in underwriting transactions in secondary markets where the size of the project matches the underlying fundamentals of the market. In addition, we provide capital to smaller cap real estate corporations as well as smaller cap public and private REITS. Our program comprises: subordinated debenture debt, bridge financing mortgages to repurpose properties, secondary debt on specific properties or a line of credit for acquisitions and equity redemptions. We are constantly looking for niches in the markets we operate in that are under-serviced by large institutions.
In Canada, Carragher sees the supply constraints for residential housing including single-family, new construction condominiums and purpose-built rental units to continue to be a challenge in markets like Toronto and Vancouver and some secondary markets across the country such as Halifax, Ottawa and Kitchener – Waterloo. The GTA August resales and listings confirmed the worsening supply issue. We will also need to track the impact of the construction completions for the low and high-rise markets. However, the more pressing concern is that market conditions will become even tighter as population growth in the GTA starts to trend back to pre-COVID levels. The current demand/supply issue coupled with low interest rates have worked together to create these higher prices and affordability issues that households face today. Unfortunately, this scenario has been in the making for a number of years and there is no fast solution.
At Firm Capital, our ultimate goal is to build strong working relationships with developers/builders and investment property owners by providing a high level of service, market expertise and competent deal execution skills. In the real estate finance business you want to be able to work with a capital provider that has proprietary capital, can make decisions and is prepared to work with you in difficult times.
Over the next year, Firm Capital is targeting $1.0 billion in new business.