Friday, March 27, 2009

Commercial real estate loan defaults skyrocket

Commercial real estate loan defaults skyrocket

With loan defaults rising, analysts say the struggling commercial real estate industry is poised to fall into the worst crisis since the last great property bust of the early 1990s.

Delinquency rates on loans for hotels, offices, retail and industrial buildings have risen sharply in recent months and are likely to soar through the end of 2010 as companies lay off workers, downsize or shut their doors.

The commercial real estate market's fortunes are tied closely to those of the sinking economy, especially unemployment, which hit 8.1 percent in February.

"Until jobs start coming back and industry starts doing better we don't see performance increasing" among landlords, said Christopher Stanley, an associate with research firm Reis Inc.

While the commercial real estate industry's woes led to the recession of nearly 20 years ago, this time the industry is "the victim of the economic and financial crisis," said Hessam Nadji, managing director at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services in Walnut Creek.

Vacancies at retailers, Nadji forecasts, will shoot up to 11 percent by year-end, matching the peak of the early 1990s. Office vacancies are likely to hit 18 percent by year end, he said, short of the 1990s-era peak of more than 20 percent.

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