Colony Said to Team With Landlords for Rental-Home Loans

Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital LLC is teaming with two other single-family rental-home landlords to offer as much as $1 billion in loans to similar operators this year, said three people with knowledge of the agreement.

Colony’s partner in the venture is San Francisco-based Dwell Finance LLC, said the people, who asked not to be named because the deal is private. The loans of as much as $100 million, and for as much as 70 percent of the value of the properties, will last as long as five years, according to the website for Dwell. The lender was formed by Gregor Watson and Rob Bloemker, founders of two single-family rental companies with almost 4,000 homes between them.

“We’re targeting well over $1 billion in loans in 2014” with financing from an “institutional partner,” Watson, founder of San Francisco-based 643 Capital Management, said in a telephone interview. He wouldn’t name the partner. “We spent the last two years developing the systems and the processes and the underwriting and now we feel comfortable that we can really scale that business.”

Single-family home landlords, who invested more than $20 billion to buy as many as 200,000 homes in the past two years, have turned to financing smaller operators as housing prices recover and the industry shifts from acquiring to managing properties.

Santa Monica, California-based Colony, which owns more than 15,000 rental houses through its Colony American Homes Inc. unit; Blackstone Group LP (BX), the largest single-family landlord, with more than $8 billion invested in 43,000 homes; and Cerberus Capital Management LP all started lending operations last year to extend credit to smaller operators.

Increased Capacity

The partnership will increase the lending capacity for Watson, whose 643 Capital extended $100 million in loans to landlords and other investors in 2013, and Colony at a time when corporate-backed lenders have been slow to grow. Blackstone’s B2R Finance LP completed its first loan of $5.7 million last week, according to Dennis Cisterna, a senior vice president at Johnson Capital, an Irvine, California-based brokerage that originated the loan.

Colony declined to comment on its partnership, according to Caroline Luz, a spokeswoman for the company with Owen Blicksilver Public Relations. John Beacham, president of B2R Finance, said he had no immediate comment on last week’s loan.

Financing for landlords has been limited as banks remain reluctant to extend credit after the housing crash, according to Bloemker, chief executive officer of Piedmont, California-based Five Ten Capital LLC. Fannie Mae limits investors to mortgages on 10 properties, and Freddie Mac has a limit of four.

‘More Available’

“As home prices rise, credit tends to be more available,” said Bloemker, who worked as a mortgage-portfolio manager at Putnam Investments and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. before founding Five Ten. Bloemker also wouldn’t name his financing partner.

Home prices have climbed almost 24 percent since March 2012, after falling 35 percent from their July 2006 peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of 20 cities.

Dwell Finance plans to eventually bundle the loans into mortgage-backed securities, similar to a $479 million issue last year by Blackstone’s single-family rental division, Invitation Homes, Bloemker said.

Rental Bonds

Wall Street ultimately may sell more than $20 billion a year of bonds backed by rental homes as investors become comfortable buying securities tied to loans to smaller landlords, according to Ryan Stark, a director who runs mortgage finance at Deutsche Bank AG.

Renters occupy more than 14 million single-family homes, a number that’s likely to grow as the homeownership rate falls, according to Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

The number of renter-occupied dwellings rose by 315,000 last year, to 40 million, while the number of owner-occupied homes dropped by 49,000 to 74.9 million, according to the Census Bureau. The ownership rate decreased to 65.2 percent in the fourth quarter from a high of 69.2 percent in 2004.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles at johngitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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