Problems in the hotel and lodging sectors are pushing the commercial mortgage delinquency rate up.
In November, 5.7% of commercial mortgages were delinquent, increasing from 5.4% in October, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The delinquencies can be traced back to lodging and retail loans that fell behind in April and May, which have now transitioned to later-stage delinquencies.
“November did see small increases in newly delinquent retail, lodging and office loans, but at levels far below what was seen at the outset of the pandemic,” Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research, said in a statement.
Lodging, where 22.1% of the loans were delinquent in November, had the most problems. In October, 21.0% of the sector’s loans were outstanding. In retail, 12.9% of the balance of loans were delinquent in November, which was an increase from 12.0% in October.
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Industrial actually experienced a decrease in delinquencies. In November, 2.5% of the balances of property loans were delinquent, down from 2.6% in October, according to MBA. The sector has been boosted by strong e-commerce demand throughout the pandemic.
Office property delinquencies rose from 2.0% in October to 2.4% in November. Multifamily, with 1.6% balances delinquent in November, was unchanged from October.
Hotels, not surprisingly, were hardest hit from the pandemic as travelers stayed at home. While it has been estimated it could take a few years for them to return to post-pandemic numbers, their recovery is an economic-led one that probably depends on vaccine availability. Once there are widespread vaccines, people should begin to travel again. In fact, there may be pent-up travel demand.
Then there is the retail sector where brick-and-mortar establishments were facing issues with competition from e-commerce before the pandemic hit. That sector has more of an uphill climb as it grapples with structural change. Many retailers have declared bankruptcy amid the pandemic, with many restructuring and returning to market with a smaller store footprint. While the sector will receive a boost when the economy recovers, it still must solve its pre-pandemic issues of transitioning to an experiential destination.
Offices may also see a transition after the pandemic as many workers have become accustomed to working from home. Companies will need to decide if they want their employees working from home, bring them back to the office or execute some variation in between.
Multifamily has also been struggling as more people fall into unemployment and Congress shows little signs of offering more stimulus relief or renter support. Many people are also leaving urban locations amid the pandemic, which has put pressure on apartments in those areas.
However, it is unlikely these properties will see much distress, says Sam Isaacson, president of Walker & Dunlop Investment Partners in an earlier interview. But even if there isn’t real distress in the market, he thinks a lot of developers will want to get out of deals because “their equity is wiped out.”
“You’re sitting at 95% of the [capital] stack, and you’re just going to move on and build the next deal,” Isaacson says. “You’ll make it up on the next deal or 10 deals or whatever the case may be.”