Revisiting Interest Rate Collars as a Hedge
for Construction Loans

In high interest rate environments, zero-cost collars are a common tool used to hedge loans. A zero-cost interest rate collar is created by combining an interest rate cap and an interest rate floor of equivalent value.

Following the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Federal Reserve reduced its Federal Funds Rate Target Range to 0 - 0.25%. Short-term variable rates such as LIBOR and SOFR were anchored near zero for the following two years as the Fed shifted towards a more accommodative monetary policy. This eliminated zero-cost collars as a viable hedging tool, because floors in that environment held almost no value. Borrowers generally either let their interest rates float or turned to caps or swaps for hedging.

Since March 2022, the Fed has raised interest rates at a pace not seen since the 1980s, bringing the Fed Funds Rate Target Range to 4.50% - 4.75%. Given the subsequent increase in SOFR, zero-cost interest rate collars have once again become attractive hedging tools, as SOFR floors now have much greater value.

For illustrative purposes, a borrower’s effective interest rate on a floating rate loan with a zero-cost interest rate collar is as follows:

  • If SOFR is below the floor strike, the borrower’s interest rate is the floor strike rate plus the loan spread. * 
  • If SOFR is between the floor and cap strikes, the borrower pays SOFR plus the loan spread. The SOFR rate floats between the floor and cap levels. 
  • If SOFR is above the cap strike, the borrower’s interest rate will not exceed the cap strike plus the loan spread

*The above scenarios do not account for rates being negative; the borrower would bear risk should the loan index rate decline below zero.

A sample payout structure for a five year zero-cost interest rate collar with a cap strike of 3.75% and a floor strike of 3.25% is shown below. [1]

Accessible Version of Sample Interest Expense Chart:

Months SOFR Cap Strike Floor Strike Effective Interest Expense
Year 1 3.00% 3.75% 3.25% 3.25%
Year 2 3.25% 3.75% 3.25% 3.25%
Year 3 3.50% 3.75% 3.25% 3.50%
Year 4 3.75% 3.75% 3.25% 3.75%
Year 5 4.00% 3.75% 3.25% 3.75%

Zero-cost collars can be structured to hedge a projected draw schedule, a constant amount, or to align with projected amortization of a loan.

The advantage of using a zero-cost interest rate collar include:

  • No increase in interest rate or cost (assuming the floor strike is below SOFR)
  • Protection against SOFR rising above cap strike
  • Can benefit from SOFR possibly falling (to the floor strike)

Some of the risks of a zero-cost interest rate collar include:

  • SOFR could fall below the floor strike, requiring the borrower to make payments
  • There could be a termination payment either payable to the borrower or PNC (depending on interest rates) if terminated prior to maturity

Current indicative zero-cost collar pricing using various cap strikes and tenors is shown in the tables below.[2].

2-Year Collar Pricing
Cap Strike Rate Floor Strike Rate
4.50% 4.17%
4.65% 4.00%
4.95% 3.70%
3-Year Collar Pricing
Cap Strike Rate Floor Strike Rate
4.25% 3.55%
4.50% 3.28%
5.00% 2.79%
5-Year Collar Pricing
Cap Strike Rate Floor Strike Rate
4.25% 3.03%
4.50% 2.79%
5.00% 2.35%



Contact Us

Please reach out to your derivatives marketer or relationship manager if you would like to discuss zero-cost interest rate collars in further detail.[3]

Important Legal Disclosures & Information

1. Please note that the cap and floor strikes are not indicative of current pricing and are hypothetical for informational purposes.

2. As of 2/3/2023. Rates based on spot-starting, non-amortizing, Daily Simple SOFR, Act/360 structures.

3. The information contained herein (“Information”) was produced by an employee of PNC Bank, National Association’s (“PNC Bank”) foreign exchange and derivative products group.  Such Information is not a “research report” nor is it intended to constitute a “research report” (as defined by applicable regulations). The Information is of general market, economic, and political conditions or statistical summaries of financial data and is not an analysis of the price or market for any product or transaction. This document and the Information it contains is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal, accounting, tax, trading or other professional advice. You should consult with your own independent advisors before taking any action based on the Information. Under no circumstances should the Information be considered trading advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any products or services or a commitment to enter into any transaction. The Information is gathered from sources PNC Bank believes to be reliable and accurate at the time of publication and are subject to change without notice. PNC Bank makes no representations or warranties regarding the Information’s accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. All performance, returns, prices or rates are for illustrative purposes only. Markets do and will change. Actual results will vary, and may be adversely affected by exchange rates, interest rates, commodity prices or other factors.   

PNC is a registered service mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”). Foreign exchange and derivative products are obligations of PNC Bank, Member FDIC and a wholly owned subsidiary of PNC. Foreign exchange and derivative products are not bank deposits and are not FDIC insured, nor are they insured or guaranteed by PNC Bank or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

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