“Opportunity funds concentrating on distress intend to take advantage of the seized-up debt markets in a few different ways. Many funds are buying debt at a discount from investment banks stuck with billions of dollars of loans they can’t securitize. Other investors believe loose underwriting and over-leveraged properties will soon lead to maturity defaults, essentially defaults that occur when a landlord can’t refinance a property because it isn’t worth the loan coming due or because a landlord can’t come up with a slug of equity that lenders want. Those funds intend to buy up that real estate, or at least gain a position in the assets.”
It will be interesting to see if the capital markets come back into time to avoid a commercial real estate crash. The loose underwriting standards we saw eighteen months ago are gone (for the foreseeable future). But most commercial property owners have enough cash flow to pay the monthly debt payments.
The problem will come at maturity. Commercial property owners may have a hard time rounding mortgage debt to replace the maturing debt. It was the short maturity on Mr. Macklowe’s debt that forced him to sell the GM Building. More commercial property owners are going to be faced with mortgage debt maturity. Will there be mortgage debt there to replace it?