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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fed Worries about CRE Grow

by Calculated Risk on 10/06/2009 10:07:00 PM

From the WSJ: Fed Frets About Commercial Real Estate

Banks in the U.S. "are slow" to take losses on their commercial real-estate loans being battered by slumping property values and rental payments, according to a Federal Reserve presentation to banking regulators last month.

.... "Banks will be slow to recognize the severity of the loss -- just as they were in residential," according to the Fed presentation, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

A Fed official confirmed the authenticity of the document, prepared by an Atlanta Fed real-estate expert who is part of the central bank's Rapid Response program to spread information about emerging problem areas to federal and state banking examiners throughout the U.S.

While the Sept. 29 presentation by K.C. Conway doesn't represent the central bank's formal opinion, worries about the banking industry's commercial real-estate exposure have been building inside the Fed for months. ...

Mr. Conway's presentation painted a bleak picture of the sliding real-estate values and enormous debt that will need to be refinanced in the next few years. Vacancy rates in the apartment, retail and warehouse sectors already have exceeded those seen during the real-estate collapse of the early 1990s, Mr. Conway noted. His report also predicted that commercial real-estate losses would reach roughly 45% next year. Valuing real estate has always been tricky for banks, and the problem is particularly acute now because sales activity is practically nonexistent.
More than half of the $3.4 trillion in outstanding commercial real-estate debt is held by banks.
There is much more in the article, including a discussion on interest reserves masking bad loans (something we've been discussing for a few years) and "extend and pretend". Hey, hoocoodanode!

Note: REIS reported today that the apartment vacancy rate in cities hit a 23 year high: From Reuters: US apartment vacancy rate hits 23-year high-report and other CRE categories are also seeing rapidly rising vacancies and falling rents.