Friday, April 9, 2010

Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability

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 "under water"- 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 8 percent for multifamily housing to 18 percent for office buildings, and falling rents, which have declined by 40 percent for office space and 33 percent for retail space, have exerted a powerful downward pressure on the value of commercial properties
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We expect that excessive leverage, reduced liquidity and a reappraisal of value by institutional lenders will create ongoing investment opportunity not presented by the current "pretend and extend" lender policies. Consequently, we intend to continue to invest patiently, with deliberation and dispassionately avoiding market mania.
Michael Ashner in Winthorp's shareholder letter.