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R. Wade Norris, Esq.

Founding Partner

Office: (202) 973-0110
Cell: (202) 744-1888

R. Wade Norris, a founding partner of Norris George & Ostrow PLLC, is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading experts in the field of multifamily housing bond finance. Since 1977, Mr. Norris has been involved as Underwriter’s or Purchaser’s Counsel or Special Bond Matters Counsel to the Borrower in literally thousands of multifamily housing bond and loan financings, totaling billions of dollars in every state in the United States. Mr. Norris has also served as underwriter’s or special disclosure counsel in a wide variety of general and revenue bond obligation financings. While a corporate securities lawyer at King & Spalding at the outset of his career, Mr. Norris served as bond or underwriter’s counsel in numerous hospital revenue bond financings and as issuer’s counsel or underwriter’s counsel in various types of corporate debt and equity financings, including initial public offerings, spinoffs and merger/acquisition transactions.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Norris played a major role in the development of a financing program using a combination of FHA mortgage insurance and municipal bond insurance from MBIA which provided over $1.1 billion of financing for over 200 low-income housing projects throughout the United States. In 1985, he was the responsible partner on over 100 multifamily housing bond financings totaling well over $1 billion. In 1986, Mr. Norris was among the first practitioners in the country to develop standards for default refundings and other work-out refinancings of distressed multifamily housing properties, and in 1989, he was a principal architect of HUD’s 11(b) refunding program which resulted in the refinancing of hundreds of multifamily housing projects, saving the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 1994, Mr. Norris was engaged by HUD to serve as its private consultant on a comprehensive analysis, compilation and revision of HUD’s policies on all types of bond refunding transactions. This engagement culminated in the publication on January 18, 1995 of HUD Notice H-95-7 “Summary of HUD Policies on Multifamily Bond Refunding Transactions and Announcement of Certain Changes and Clarifications,” prepared for HUD by Mr. Norris. In 1996 and 1997, the firm, through Mr. Norris, was engaged to serve as outside counsel to HUD in connection with the disposition of a substantial portion of its multi-billion dollar portfolio of HUD-held multifamily mortgage loans and multifamily properties.

Over the past two decades, Mr. Norris and the firm’s other lawyers have played a leading role as underwriter’s counsel developing new fixed rate and variable rate financing structures involving FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the major banks and other private placement lenders involved in affordable multifamily rental housing bond finance. During this period, Mr. Norris and his partner Ryan George assisted in the creation and expansion of what has become the country’s most successful tax-exempt multifamily housing bond and loan private placement program. Mr. Norris was also one of the leading architects of the tax-exempt short-term cash-backed bond structure which has been combined, since 2008, with low-rate taxable FHA insured, rural development, and certain other low rate taxable loans to satisfy the 50% test required to prime 4% low income housing tax credits on hundreds of financings throughout the United States. Mr. Norris, together with his partner Ryan George, also served as special outside counsel to Freddie Mac in developing its tax-exempt loan or “TEL” structure for affordable housing financings. In addition, Mr. Norris and his partner, Ethan Ostrow, played a major role with Fannie Mae, its counsel and other participants developing the structure and documentation for Fannie Mae’s “M.TEB” tax-exempt MBS monthly pass-through structure for and closing the first eight transactions and many subsequent financings using this structure.

In the past two years, Mr. Norris has done pioneering work underlying and addressing the growing scarcity of private activity bond financing. He has played a major role developing the largest multifamily housing bond recycling program in California and recycling programs in other jurisdictions. During this period, together with his partner Ethan Ostrow, Mr. Norris has worked with its major underwriter clients to develop significant new structures on “essential function” or “governmental purpose” workforce housing bond financings under Section 103 of the Internal Revenue Code and new executions using tax-exempt bond financings for Section 501(c)(3) borrowers under Section 145 of the Code, especially for affordable “workforce” or “middle market” housing. Such financings do not require the use of private activity bond volume, which is increasingly scarce, especially in high growth states.

In the past year and currently, Mr. Norris and his colleagues are using their decades of experience working with clients on innovative structures to maximize loan proceeds and minimize borrowing costs in the current inverted yield curve high interest rate environment. This includes combining short-term cash-backed bonds with tax-exempt private placements to substantially increase tax credit basis and proceeds and the prudent, creative use of derivatives to dramatically lower borrowing costs.

Mr. Norris has been a speaker at numerous seminars and the author of numerous articles on multifamily housing bond finance over the past 45 years, and he is a frequent panel moderator or speaker member on multifamily housing bond finance at well over a dozen industry housing conferences each year. Mr. Norris' paper entitled "Introduction to Tax-Exempt Multifamily Housing Bonds" is widely regarded as one of the industry’s leading introductory articles on tax-exempt multifamily housing bond finance, and Mr. Norris regularly authors a number of other papers and powerpoint presentations on various aspects of tax-exempt multifamily housing bond finance, which are available on the firm’s website: He is also a past Chair of the Bond Financing Committee of the American Bar Association Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law.

Mr. Norris attended Duke University where he received his B.A. degree in Economics with distinction in 1969, and served as Student Body President during his senior year. Mr. Norris received an MBA from Stanford University in 1971, with a concentration in systems analysis and finance. Mr. Norris received his law degree from Duke University in 1974, where he graduated with distinction and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Duke Law Journal during his final year. Mr. Norris is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the State Bar of Georgia. Mr. Norris is also a member of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Bond Lawyers and the American College of Bond Counsel.