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The move for lenders to find ways to avoid action on troubled CRE loans has been called “extend and pretend,” though “delay and pray” might be even more apt.

While an institution can avoid significant and final decisions, it can put off the day when it takes a hit to its balance sheet, hoping that find another solution in the meantime. Who wants to take possession of a property along with the responsibility of disposing of it?

But how much of this activity has been going on and how long could it be sustained? CRED iQ has analyzed loan modifications during this period of significantly elevated interest rates.

“The number of modifications in 2023 more than doubled compared to 2022,” they said. “Of the $162 billion in securitized commercial mortgages which matured in 2023, 542 loans were modified with cumulative balances just over $20 billion, which is a 150% increase from the amount of modifications that occurred in 2022. According to CRED iQ’s 2024 CRE Maturity Outlook, 2024 will see $210 billion in securitized maturities. CRED iQ predicts that the modification trend will continue to surge as more special servicers decide to ‘pretend and extend’ versus foreclose on these commercial properties.”

In office, 26% of $35.8 billion in CMBS loans that matured last year were paid in full. Borrowers either couldn’t get refinancing (which likely would have meant a heft injection of equity into projects) or couldn’t sell for a price that allowed them to gracefully exit the stage.

Since February 2022, so two years, 593 office loans transferred to special servicing. Out of them, 13.7% were modified, 14.0% returned to the master servicer as corrected, 8.4% were paid off, and the remaining 63.9% are still with the special servicer.

“Extending the loan term has been the most popular modification type in 2023 and so far in 2024 (excluding grouping categories Other and Combination),” they wrote. “By deal type, CRE CLO deal led all categories and comprised nearly half of all loan modifications, followed by SBLL deals.”

CRED iQ gave two examples of the largest loan modifications to date — 1.6 million square feet One Market Place in San Francisco and 249,063 square foot mixed use in the Chelsea submarket of New York City. Well enough, but how long can this go on without investors, regulators, or others demanding a permanent ending?


Source:  GlobeSt.