Multifamily Financings Fall 27% in First Quarter, Less than in Other Real Estate Sectors

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C.–Loan originations for commercial and multifamily mortgages fell on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Quarterly Survey of Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Bankers Originations. First quarter originations were 53 percent lower than during the same period last year. The year-over-year decrease was seen across all property types and most investor groups. “Three trends jump out from this quarter’s figures: the impact of the credit crunch, a return from the extraordinary record origination volumes of 2005, 2006 and 2007 and strong variation between different investor groups,” says Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s senior director of commercial/multifamily research. A drop in commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) conduit loans led to decreases in total commercial/multifamily mortgage originations. These numbers show the impact of the recent credit crunch and other market disruptions, says Woodwell.“First quarter originations for the CMBS market were at their lowest since the survey began in 2001, originations for life companies and for banks and thrifts fell to levels last seen in 2004, and originations for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hit record highs for a first-quarter.”  The decrease in commercial/multifamily lending activity during the first quarter was driven by decreases in originations for all property types. When compared to the first quarter of 2007, the overall decrease included a 75 percent decrease in loans for office properties, a 60 percent decrease in loans for hotel properties, a 53 percent decrease in loans for retail properties, a 37 percent decrease in loans for industrial properties, a 27 percent decrease in multifamily property loans, and a 15 percent decrease in health care loans. Among investor types, conduits for CMBS saw a significant decrease of 96 percent compared to last year’s first quarter. There was also a 28 percent decrease in loans for commercial bank portfolios and a 25 percent decrease in loans for life insurance companies. The dollar volume of loans for Government Sponsored Enterprises (or GSEs – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) saw an increase of 62 percent.  First quarter 2008 mortgage bankers’ originations were 52 percent lower than originations in the fourth quarter of 2007. In part, this reflects the industry’s usual push to finalize deals before the end of the year and subsequent drop-offs in first quarter numbers.  It also reflects the impact of the credit crunch and a return from the extraordinary origination volumes of 2005, 2006 and 2007.