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WILL INSTABILITY IN THE FINANCIAL MARKET HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE OFFICE MARKET?

Last week’s GlobeSt.com Quick Poll asked readers if instability in the financial sector was impacting the office market. More than 75% of respondents said the issues were decimating the office market around the country. Michael Fay, president of Coral Gables-based Colliers Abood Wood-Fay and a speaker at last week’s RealShare South Florida Conference, says issues in the financial sector are affecting not only office, but commercial and residential real estate lending in general. He spoke with GlobeSt.com about the recent troubles on Wall Street, the federal government’s involvement and his thoughts about a solution that may be on the horizon:

“The financial sector in general for Florida, with all the banking problems, and what’s going on with Wall Street, definitely affects commercial real estate, but it varies in degrees of how it affects people. As we learned at the RealShare conference, it’s hard to get money to do big deals and that’s from the Wall Street CMBS lending side. However, on a lower, local level, there are still lots of banks that are lending money to quality borrowers and quality projects.

“It’s the aggressive borrowers and the overreaching projects that aren’t getting the funding. They’ve got to go back to the fundamental underwriting and lending criteria. Miami and South Florida were running rampant with a lot of aggressive borrowing, on both the commercial and residential sides.

“The government’s decision to start a new agency to handle the bad debt is restoring faith in the credit markets. By instilling faith, credit will ease up and there will be more supply of money to borrowers. There’s so much capital out there today, but there’s no liquidity. By doing this, it will start to free up liquidity in the next six to eight months—and there’s still a huge demand for liquidity. When you have huge supply and demand but no lending vehicle to do that under, you will definitely see a new way of lending or some other mechanism for lending emerge.

“I believe there will be more private lenders out there that will be more aggressive and more entrepreneurial. They may lend you back up to 85%, but will also take 20% of your profits and charge some other aggressive interest rates.

“The private sector will be the one to save the day. The more conventional lending will be done through the life insurance companies and the banks, but the aggressive lending will be done through some new, private vehicle.”

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