“Commercial real estate finance markets were active during the first quarter – the start of what was expected to be another strong year of borrowing and lending,” said Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s vice president of commercial real estate research. “That strong start has been derailed by the coronavirus and our individual and collective responses to it. Early indications are that low interest rates continue to attract some property refinancing, but that overall transaction activity has fallen given the economic uncertainty stemming from the virus. Property investors and lenders have now turned more of their attention to their existing portfolios instead of new business opportunities.”
Compared to the first quarter of 2019, a fall in originations for hotel, industrial and retail properties led this year’s overall first quarter decrease in commercial/multifamily lending volumes. By property type, hotels decreased by 42%, industrial decreased by 39%, and retail decreased by 37%. Office properties increased by 8.0%, multifamily increased by 15%, and healthcare properties increased 16% year-over-year.
Among investor types, the dollar volume of loans originated for life insurance companies decreased by 18% year-over-year. Commercial bank portfolios decreased 1.0%, while Government Sponsored Enterprises increased 6.0%; and loans originated for Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) increased 14%.
As is typical in the first quarter, originations decreased in comparison to last year’s fourth quarter, with total activity falling 40%. Among property types, declines were seen in retail (62%), industrial (57%), hotel (57%), healthcare (55%), office space (42%), and multifamily properties (29%).
Among investor types, the dollar volume of loans for CMBS decreased 51%, originations for life insurance companies decreased 45%, loans for commercial banks decreased by 42%, and loans for GSEs decreased 14%.