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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

LA Times: Sour CRE Loans

by Calculated Risk on 5/13/2009 10:13:00 AM

This is a story we've discussed for a few years, but it is probably worth repeating: Small and regional banks couldn't compete in the residential mortgage market during the housing bubble (with some exceptions), so they focused on Construction & Development (C&D) and other Commercial Real Estate (CRE) loans. The C&D loans are defaulting in large numbers now and this is impacting a number of regional banks (like BankUnited and Corus).

And defaults are just starting to increase on other CRE loans. Most of the coming bank failures will be due to C&D and CRE loans.

From the LA Times: Sour commercial real estate loans threaten to hurt regional banks

The slumping market for commercial real estate -- viewed by many as the next big shoe to drop on the economy -- now threatens to drag down regional banks as they struggle to collect on loans made against shopping centers and office buildings.

Seriously overdue loans against commercial developments have shot up dramatically in recent months, as delinquencies snowball on construction loans and mortgages for office buildings, malls and apartments.
"Commercial lending is our bread and butter, the lion's share of our business," said Dominic Ng, chairman of East West Bancorp, which with $12 billion in assets is the second-largest bank based in Los Angeles County.

The Pasadena bank ... set aside $226 million to cover loan losses last year, up from $12 million in 2007. The bank lost $49 million in 2008, compared with a profit of $161 million in 2007.

Land development and construction loans, the main problem so far for East West, total about 20% of the bank's loan portfolio. Now Ng says he is nervously watching delinquencies on commercial mortgages -- about 40% of East West's loans.
For a few graphs on C&D loan concentrations and noncurrent rates (from the FDIC Q4 Quarterly Banking Profile), see: Bank Failures and C&D Loans . The Q1 FDIC report should be released in a few weeks.