Commercial Mortgages Show How Bad It Got

Just five years ago, the commercial real estate market was thriving. The delinquency rate on mortgage loans was at a record low, and the volume of new mortgages being sold to investors was at a record high.

Now the first of the mortgages that were securitized in 2007 have started to come due, and it is becoming clear just how bad many of the loans were. The time when investors were most eager to buy turns out to have been the worst time to do so.

Commercial mortgages — unlike residential ones — are seldom issued for periods of longer than 10 years, and often for as little as five. Many require no principal repayments during that period but call for the entire amount to be repaid in a balloon payment at the end of the loan. So it can be at maturity when the bad news arrives.

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