21 October 2009

Commercial Real Estate Market Sees Rising Delinquencies


Yields on bonds backed by hotel, shopping-center and skyscraper loans narrowed relative to benchmarks as U.S. programs help drive demand even as late payments soar on the underlying commercial real estate debt, according to Barclays Capital.

The gap, or spread, on top-ranked commercial-mortgage backed securities tightened 0.15 percentage point relative to benchmark swap rates to 6.25 percentage points for the week ended Oct. 15, Barclays data show. That compares with 10.15 percentage points in March, according to Barclays.

Demand for the bonds swelled as rising stocks buoyed investor sentiment and government programs helped further prop up prices of the debt. Rising delinquencies on commercial mortgages provide a “counterpoint to the rally,” Barclays analysts led by Aaron Bryson in New York wrote in an Oct. 16 report.

“The rally in cash CMBS continued,” Bryson wrote. “Better-than-expected earnings reports and strong economic data led to broad-based credit tightening and a further reduction of risk premia.”

Top-rated commercial mortgage-backed debt is trading at a price of about 84.70 cents on the dollar, up from 55.91 cents in mid-March, according to Merrill Lynch & Co. indexes.

Still, “the CMBS delinquency rate is on pace for a large jump,” Bryson wrote.

Commercial mortgages bundled and sold as bonds that are at least 30 days behind on payments rose 30 basis points to 5.42 percent for October, according to Barclays. About 36 percent of the loans hadn’t yet been reported for this month as of the report date. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

TALF Fading

The fourth round of the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, is scheduled for Oct. 21. The Fed began lending against so-called legacy commercial mortgage- backed securities, or those sold before Jan. 1, in July as part of its effort to stimulate lending.

The Fed added newly issued commercial-mortgage backed bonds to TALF in June. No new bonds have been sold through the program.

The impact of TALF has “started to fade” as investors anticipate the start of buying under the U.S. Public Private Investment Partnership, a separate government program that also seeks to attract investors by boosting returns with taxpayer loans, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts.

“Legacy CMBS TALF is still in effect but demand does not seem strong enough, by itself to drive this sector significantly tighter,” the Bank of America analysts led by Roger Lehman in New York said in an Oct. 16 report.

Plunging Values

Unlike the TALF, the PPIP isn’t limited to securities carrying top-ratings and will finance the purchase of a broader swath of securities, including bonds that have had ratings cuts.

Spreads on some lower-ranked bonds have tightened on “at least the perception of PPIP buying,” according to the Bank of America analysts.

TALF loan requests to purchase legacy bonds will likely increase to around $2 billion for October, compared with $1.4 billion last month, according to Barclays. While the fourth round may be stronger than last month’s “disappointing” results, it will fall short of August’s $2.3 billion high, the Bank of America analysts wrote.

The government has made reviving the $700 billion commercial-mortgage bond market a priority as plunging property values and a pullback in lending threaten to derail an economic recovery. U.S. commercial real estate prices are down 40.6 percent from the October 2007 peaks, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

No comments:

Post a Comment