While lenders are decidedly active again, many developers and owners are understandably nervous about borrowing when rates are volatile, says Arthur Fefferman, president of AFC Realty Captial, New York. They are also confused by new sources and new rules.

So what do developers and owners need to know to successfully tap into today's money markets?

Find a strong intermediary

"Such would-be players should give strong consideration to turning to an intermediary, who can provide more objectivity, stronger negotiation ability than the originator may have, and more aggressive problem solving," advises Fefferman.

Look for experience

"You have to go with somebody who has experience in the securitized area," adds John Beam of Insignia Mortgage & Investment Co., Atlanta.

"It's sort of a cyclical business," he warns. "Let's say that somebody is finishing up a pool and going to market, they're liable to be more aggressive than somebody who's starting a pool.

"There tends to be a cycle that conduit lenders will go through as they put together their particular pools," he says.

Shop around

"My advice is really to shop the market and look for somebody that can guide you in the process, because it is a process that's very fluid and you want to make sure you have a loan at the end of the process ... you want to make sure you have what you bargained for. And for that you need experience."

Check out underwriting capabilities

"You also need a lender that has master underwriting capabilities," Beam continues. "That means their own people go out and do the underwriting, and they do it fairly quickly. Brokers doing underwriting is a lot more hit and miss than having the lender do it itself. They feel better when their own people do it."