Pandemic Disruption Cuts Commercial Real Estate Borrowing in Half

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Propped Up Multifamily in Second Quarter, Mortgage Bankers Association Says



In a measure of how much COVID-19 has affected commercial real estate, mortgage loan origination fell 48% in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The primary damage came in the initial few weeks after the outbreak in the United States, when lending came to a near halt. Since then, the pace of lending has been picking up, but the pace and amount lent indicate it may be a while before it returns to pre-coronavirus activity.

The decline in borrowing was widely uneven across property types. The figures show a marked difference among properties that were the most dramatically and immediately hit by the pandemic, lodging and retail, and those that have fared better, multifamily and industrial.

Loan origination for hotel properties fell 91% year over year. Declines for other property types include retail, decreasing 64%; office, falling 71%; industrial, sliding 44%; healthcare, dropping 40%; and multifamily, declining 24%.

Multifamily lending held better than other property types because of refinancing volume from government-sponsored housing lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s vice president of commercial real estate research. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending volumes were down only 5% from the second quarter of 2019.

“Commercial real estate borrowing and lending slowed dramatically in the second quarter, as uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic caused both borrowers and lenders to focus more of their attention on their existing books of business instead of new opportunities,” Woodwell said in a statement.

The dollar volume of loans originated for commercial mortgage-backed securities decreased 95% year over year, and life insurance company lending was down 49%.

While bank lending volume was down 55% from a year earlier, CBRE’s lender survey this month indicated that banks overall captured over 70% of loan origination in the second quarter. That is more than double recent averages.

Banks, which were aided by emergency liquidity measures by the Federal Reserve, were a source of refinance capital across all major property types and funded several bridge and construction loans.

Commercial lending from all groups began to recover late in April, but a full recovery isn’t expected soon, CBRE noted.

“While we have seen a steady improvement in the number of loan applications over the past five weeks, we anticipate that commercial mortgage markets will remain muted over the near term, especially for retail and hospitality properties, as well as value-added deals, which face the greatest underwriting challenges,” Brian Stoffers, global president of debt and structured finance for capital markets at CBRE, said in a statement. “Underwriting will likely remain conservative due to current economic conditions and environmental challenges due to the pandemic.”


By Mark Heschmeyer | CoStar News | August 17, 2020 | 12:43 P.M.

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