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Five years after the start of an unprecedented housing market decline and four years since the collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman and the credit markets, the commercial real estate debt markets only sluggishly arose from their extended state of suspended animation. Like many in the industry, we anticipated a slower-than-normal recovery—the depths of the recent recession, staggering numbers of problem loans, the compromised state of the recovery and unfortunate political gridlock, have hamstrung any rebound. But the extent of delay has been surprising. Without a prod from government regulators, banks and other lenders have continued to resolve problem loans at a turtle's pace, avoiding precipitous shocks to their balance sheets. As a result, the opportunity to invest in distressed assets has been limited.

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