New Concerns About CMBS Defaults

Defaults on commercial mortgage-backed securities issued at the height of the credit bubble will more than quadruple from their current levels under conditions in the US economy expected by the commercial real estate industry, according to a report from Fitch Ratings.

Borrowers would default on an average of 17.2 per cent of securitised commercial mortgages over 10 years if the US economy dips into a recession with 0.2 per cent contraction in growth, compared with current very low default rates of 4 per cent, a rise of 330 per cent.

Such a scenario corresponds "to the negative predictions currently offered by commercial real estate experts", analysts at Fitch wrote. This would happen if the economy suffered a similar downturn to 1991, and assumes that the value of properties covered by the deals falls by 25 per cent, and cash flow from rents by 15 per cent.

The higher defaults under such a slowdown compares with a historical default rate of 7.9 per cent, and with the milder scenario that Fitch thinks is more possible of 0.8 per cent economic growth and a 13.7 per cent rate of default.

It would cause non-investment grade bonds - B and BB rated CMBS - to suffer loss rates of 100 per cent and 95.9 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, 30.6 per cent of the lowest-rated investment grade bonds - BBB rated - would experience losses, while loss severities would rise to 37.9 per cent from an historical average of 33.5 per cent.


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