Client story

Bender Companies’ value-add strategy bolstered by debt and equity partnerships

Successful workforce housing investments utilize key industry relationships


Strategic debt and equity deals put Bender and partners on a path to long-term growth


Well-timed refinancing allowed Bender to secure a 7-year Fannie Mae loan at a favorable rate of 4.99%

Chicago-based Bender Companies has increased its investments in multifamily over the years through a number of debt and equity deals.

Bender’s commitment to hands-on management to improve rental housing operations became the primary focus of its long-term growth strategy in 2018. The owner and operator of multifamily assets realized then that it needed a partner who could enhance the firm’s ability to execute and maximize value for its investor partners.

So, when Bender’s leadership wanted to significantly grow their portfolio, they turned to the Private Capital experts at JLL in Chicago.

“We wanted a full-service capital markets partner that would assist us in investment opportunities,” said Bender Companies Founder and Principal Kurt Bender. “At the same time, we wanted to work with a lending partner that would put in the time to show us a menu of debt options and provide the level of service we needed to be competitive in the space. JLL was exactly that.”

Finding the best financing solutions in a tight market

Bender Companies was looking for value-add opportunities in garden-style workforce housing throughout the Midwest. As the company grew its equity relationships in late 2018 and 2019, its principals and managing staff began to increasingly seek larger acquisition opportunities above the $20-million mark.

“We were looking for mismanaged and undercapitalized deals where we could come in with fresh capital, revive the property, and grow NOI,” Bender noted. “By 2021, our equity relationships grew where we could do larger deals and a higher volume that required larger equity checks.”

With debt financing, however, timing was key—especially in the face of elevated interest rates and overall economic volatility. Bender’s interest rate cap on an important bridge loan was maturing in September 2023 and the company needed to strategically execute a refinance before that deadline. The owner-operator successfully did so five months in advance by tapping JLL’s Private Capital Group.

Two of the many solutions offered were interest rate buydowns to increase loan proceeds and ongoing analysis to track the progress being made as the deal stabilized. Through JLL’s key role in the capital markets, Bender was able to lock in a 7-year loan from Fannie Mae with two years of interest-only payments at a favorable rate of 4.99%.

Embracing long-term debt and equity relationships

On the equity side, JLL’s Private Capital experts helped facilitate a significant introduction to a private equity firm out of Florida. Bender Companies has since done seven deals with the firm, raising more than $50 million of equity to date.

On the debt side, JLL has facilitated a number of acquisition and refinance loans for Bender over the past five years. The most notable transaction involved the two-year bridge loan that was originated in 2021 at the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) +300. JLL secured the take-out loan from Fannie in May 2023 and consulted with Bender each month to provide analysis leading up to the closing date.

This allowed Bender to do a small cash-out refinance in a very challenging lending environment while boosting the value of its property investments at the same time.

Paving the way for mutual future growth

Bender Companies has developed a track record of high-performing multifamily investments through strategic acquisitions, risk mitigation, and effective management since its founding and first deal in 2011.

By embracing JLL’s relationship-driven approach to debt and equity solutions, Bender has delivered better outcomes for the company’s residents and investment partners. These transactions underscore the potential that can be unlocked when an entrepreneurial real estate investment firm partners with the country’s leading capital markets intermediary.

“It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship,” Bender maintained. “We look forward to more successful transactions in the future.”