Commercial real estate outlook is bad and getting worse

The size of the commercial real estate problem got a number today - $2.2 Trillion.

(Bloomberg) -- About $2.2 trillion of U.S. commercial properties bought or refinanced since 2004 are now worth less than the original price, raising the threat of more foreclosures, Real Capital Analytics said.

Prices have fallen so far that about $1.3 trillion of properties have either lost their owners’ down payment or are close to it, Robert White, president of the New York-based research firm, said in a report. The analysis includes only office, industrial, multifamily and retail properties. Hotels and raw land would “add billions more to the total,” he wrote.

The report details the magnitude of the crisis in commercial real estate, where the collapse of securitized mortgages have combined with the recession to send prices plummeting and push landlords into default. U.S. commercial property prices are down 35 percent since the peak in October 2007, according a survey from Moody’s Investors Service.

The problem of so many of these properties being underwater is that refinancing them might be impossible. It's the same problem currently striking the Option-ARM and Alt-A markets in residential real estate.

Few lenders are now willing to advance more than 50 percent to 60 percent of value in this market, he said.

About $124 billion of commercial properties have fallen into default, foreclosure or bankruptcy since prices started falling, Real Capital said. Less than 10 percent of distressed properties have resolved their financing issues and lenders have been slow to take action against property owners.

“The phrase ‘pretend & extend’ has recently entered the vernacular,” White wrote.

Even Fed officials are chiming in on this approaching disaster.

“Borrowers seeking to refinance will be expected to provide additional equity and to have underwriting and pricing adjusted to reflect current market conditions,” Yellen said. “In some cases, borrowers won’t have the resources to refinance loans.”

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Honestly I thought manfrommiddletown might be making this a little overblown, simply because the CRE is smaller than residential, but $2.2 trillion tells a different tale.

Ever feel like Cassandra? I think we should rename the site.

Ah, what the heck

$2 trillion for CRE and another several trillion for residential real estate soon we will be talking real money.

Seriously, I know that treasury and fed would like banks to earn their way out of this mess. But the only way that happens is if they take more risks. That means nothing changes and nothing is learned.

How can we seriously talk about a "recovery" with toxic assets still on the books? - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.