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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coming Commercial Real Estate Collapse

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The collapse in commercial real estate is preventing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke from declaring the economy and financial markets are healed.

Property values have fallen 35 percent since October 2007, according to Moodys Investors Service. Thats making it tough for owners to refinance almost $165 billion of mortgages for skyscrapers, shopping malls and hotels this year, pressuring companies such as Maguire Properties Inc., the largest office landlord in downtown Los Angeles, to put buildings up for sale.

Negative Fundamental

Demand for commercial space comes from employment and the income generated by that employment, said University of Pennsylvania Professor Joseph Gyourko, director of the Wharton Schools Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center in Philadelphia. Mounting job losses are a really significant negative fundamental, signaling that conditions are going to be tough for the industry for a while, he said.

That may spill over into mounting losses at some banks. Forty-seven percent of loans at the 7,000-plus smaller U.S. lenders are in commercial real estate, compared with 17 percent for the biggest banks, according to New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

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