Most people living in apartments in the Oklahoma City area are caught up on rent, so extra dual protection given Monday to tenants of certain landlords struggling to pay their own mortgages won’t have much impact here, specialists said.
Not that the coronavirus hasn’t affected apartment management. Maintenance calls, for example, take more time and planning with health safety precautions in place. Finances haven’t taken a big hit, though, according to two brokers who track multifamily sales and follow operations.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency extended loan forbearance for certain multifamily borrowers — if tenant evictions remain on hold. That would add security for up to 30% of apartment renters if the owners had taken forbearance in the first place, said Mike Buhl, owner and managing broker of Commercial Realty Resources Co. in Norman.
Most didn’t, however, to avoid payback strings attached, and because rent collections have been better than expected, according to Buhh and broker David Dirkschneider with Price Edwards & Co. Dirkschneider and Buhl both track multifamily sales and follow operations.
The forbearance extension — for a maximum of six months — is available for qualified properties with a multifamily mortgage backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The FHFA said that if a forbearance is extended, the borrower may qualify for up to 24 months to repay the missed payments, either under a modified repayment schedule or a new forbearance agreement. During the repayment period, landlords must give tenants at least a 30-day notice to vacate, not charge late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent, and allow flexibility to repay back rent over time rather than all at once, the FHFA said.
Of some 104,000 apartment units in the metro area, some 30% are in properties with debt backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Buhl said. However, of apartment houses sold in the past few years — more than 18,000 since 2018 — it could be to 40% or 45%, he said, but far fewer live in properties that took forbearance.
“Our conversations with owners and operators have indicated that most have been reluctant to take any forbearance knowing that it may only stress their operations longer term during the periods when those funds must be repaid,” Buhl said. “During the early stages of this pandemic, being the past 90 days, it has been reported that rent collections have held up very well. It appears that the unemployment relief for most has allowed them to pay most, if not all, of their rent.”