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Healthy Outlook for CMBS Issuance

Issuers discuss CMBS market conditions

Feb. 7, 2013

By Mortgage Daily staff


Despite the challenges that lay ahead for issuers of commercial mortgage-backed securities, the volume of securitizations is expected to increase.

Challenges facing the Eurozone could hurt the volume of CMBS issuance. In addition, the U.S. fiscal cliff and debt ceiling discussions could discourage commercial mortgage issuance.

But there are also market factors that are supporting the securitization of commercial real estate loans.

Among them are the relaxation in underwriting standards for CMBS loans, though such standards still remain tighter than in 2007, according to issuers who spoke with Standard & Poor's Ratings Services analysts at the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council conference in Miami. The event was held from Jan. 13 through Jan. 16.

"Improved transparency and predictability from rating agency criteria and regulatory reforms -- including risk retention -- could support greater issuance volume," S&P said. "As regulators issue new rules, the market could begin moving forward with more certainty."

The ratings agency said that issuers expect CMBS issuance to increase in 2013.

Projections early last year from S&P indicated that 2012 CMBS issuance was expected to come in at $35 billion, up from $33 billion in 2011.

Issuers expect this year's volume to surge to between $60 billion and $70 billion.

"This volume should come from a continued flow of both single-borrower and conduit transactions that closed during the fourth quarter of 2012," S&P said. "Issuers mentioned that small balance, floating-rate transactions, and pari passu loans are resurfacing for issuance in 2013."

The origination of loans for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and life insurance companies has been especially "robust," S&P wrote.

A potential resurgence in small-balance commercial mortgage securitizations -- which had virtually dried up since 2007 -- could signal a shift in risk tolerance for investors who are searching for higher yields in a low-rate environment.

Still, annual CMBS activity stands well below 2007 levels, when issuance was $230 billion, according to data from Moody's Investors Service.

Servicers attending the event indicated that improving real estate fundamentals and another projected increase in CMBS issuance this year are expected to expand servicing opportunities.

Some of the "more prolific purchasers" of mortgage servicing rights indicated that while Basel III may lead to modestly higher costs, CRE loan servicing is still a relatively attractive business.

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