David Kotok
Cumberland Advisors
March 1, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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“Between 2010 and 2014, about $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will reach the end of their terms. Nearly half are at present “underwater” – that is, the borrower owes more than the underlying property is currently worth. Commercial property values have fallen more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2007. Increased vacancy rates, which now range from eight percent for multifamily housing to 18 percent for office buildings, and falling rents, which have declined 40 percent for office space and 33 percent for retail space, have exerted a powerful downward pressure on the value of commercial properties.

“The largest commercial real estate loan losses are projected for 2011 and beyond; losses at banks alone could range as high as $200-$300 billion. The stress tests conducted last year for 19 major financial institutions examined their capital reserves only through the end of 2010. Even more significantly, small and mid-sized banks were never subjected to any exercise comparable to the stress tests, despite the fact that small and mid-sized banks are proportionately even more exposed than their larger counterparts to commercial real estate loan losses.”

We have extracted these two paragraphs from the executive summary of the February 10, 2010, Congressional Oversight Panel’s Special Report entitled “Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability.” This 190-page document is packed with vital and detailed information. Find it at: http://cop.senate.gov/documents/cop-021110-report.pdf .

The issue of CRE is on everyone’s mind. And, unlike residential housing, there is no political will in Washington to subsidize a mall developer or office landlord. That is a good thing. In the longer run the CRE adjustment will be faster and less costly to the American taxpayer than the protracted demise of the Fannie and Freddie.

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