Goodbye LIBOR, Hello SOFR

What to Expect and Five Things you Can do to Set up for Success when LIBOR retires

In the financial ecosystem, change is imminent. The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a longstanding fixture in global financial markets, is headed towards extinction. This transition is fundamental for private lenders, as it will affect the cost structure of credit products and consequently the dynamics of the lending market. Replacing LIBOR is the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), an overnight rate rooted in substantial transaction volumes.


Here is a more detailed explanation of how LIBOR and SOFR are calculated:

  • LIBOR is calculated based on a daily survey of banks. The survey asks banks what interest rate they would charge each other for unsecured loans over a set period of time. The average of these rates is then used to calculate LIBOR.
  • SOFR is calculated based on the daily volume of repurchase agreements (repos). Repos are a type of short-term loan where a lender purchases securities from a borrower with an agreement to repurchase them at a later date. The interest rate on repos is called the repo rate. The average of the repo rates for a set period of time is then used to calculate SOFR.

The main difference between LIBOR and SOFR is that LIBOR is based on a survey of banks, while SOFR is based on the actual market for short-term loans. This makes SOFR a more reliable and transparent measure of short-term interest rates.

Potential Consequences of the Transition

While SOFR is grounded on Treasury repurchase transactions and provides a ‘risk-free’ rate, it carries potential complexities. For private lenders, who often reference LIBOR in loan products, the transition to SOFR will necessitate a reassessment of risk pricing structures. Given the different behavior of SOFR in the face of market changes, lending rates may fluctuate, potentially impacting borrowers’ cost of capital.

Strategies to Navigate the Shift (Top 5 Considerations)

For private money lenders navigating this shift, consider the following:


  1. Comprehensive Understanding of SOFR: Grasp the implications of SOFR for risk pricing. This includes understanding its underlying mechanics, and its reaction to market movements.
  2. Contractual Adjustments: Analyze your loan contracts, specifically focusing on ‘fallback language’ and provisions concerning reference rate replacement. Necessary alterations should be undertaken to incorporate SOFR.
  3. Transparent Communication: Engage in open discussions with borrowers. Transparency about the implications of the transition on loan costs will help maintain trust.
  4. Market Surveillance: Monitor ongoing developments, both in the marketplace and regulatory environment, to inform your pricing strategies.
  5. Be Flexible: Adaptability will be key, given the complex and uncharted nature of this transition. Be open to modifying strategies as the SOFR-based market matures.


Implications of the Shift

From a financial perspective, SOFR typically trades close to the Federal Funds Rate. Thus, transitioning to SOFR may cause variations in borrowing costs, depending on how SOFR and the spread adjustments are managed.

Legally, LIBOR-based loan agreements will need modifications. This may necessitate legal consultations to ensure proper transitioning of contracts, mitigating potential contractual disputes.

Why ARMs Appeal in the Current Landscape

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), indexed to SOFR, can provide stability and transparency for borrowers. With lower initial interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages, ARMs can present a more cost-efficient solution, especially in a stable or falling interest rate environment. However, lenders and borrowers alike must be aware of potential rate increases and ensure strategies are in place to mitigate such risks.

Analyzing LIBOR and SOFR Across Interest Rate Environments

Analyzing LIBOR and SOFR behavior across different interest rate environments elucidates their distinct characteristics. LIBOR, influenced by both market conditions and the perceived credit risk of major banks, can be more volatile. SOFR, however, tends to be more stable due to its grounding in high-volume Treasury repo transactions. It’s important to note that while these general tendencies hold, precise movements will be dictated by a plethora of market factors.

In general, here is how the different indices perform in different interest rate environments

Interest rate environment Difference
Rising LIBOR increases faster than SOFR
Declining LIBOR decreases faster than SOFR



 As we approach this significant inflection point in the financial market, it’s clear that the transition from LIBOR to SOFR carries substantial implications for private money lenders. Effectively managing this change requires thorough understanding, strategic planning, and a flexible approach. Thankfully, many of these changes can be smoothly managed through sophisticated loan servicing software like The Mortgage Office. Its comprehensive features are designed to help navigate the complexity of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages and facilitate the transition from LIBOR to SOFR, mitigating potential disruption to your operations. The Mortgage Office team is readily available to answer any questions and provide support during this pivotal period. By harnessing the right tools and strategies, lenders can navigate this transition effectively, turning potential challenges into opportunities for growth and evolution in the lending market.

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