This week, over a thousand industry participants made their way through a rain soaked Manhattan for the start of CREFC’s Annual Conference. The low hum of attendees taking conference calls in corners and tapping messages on iphones provided a constant auditory backdrop to the event and aptly conveyed the velocity of the CMBS industry in 2013. The market is back to work.

Monday began with forums focused on B Piece Buyers, High Yield Debt Investors, Agency Investors, Servicing and Portfolio Lending. Monday afternoon saw “The Dean of Real Estate” Dean Adler (of Lubert-Adler Partners, L.P.) take the stage to present a crash course in retail real estate investing. Adler’s presentation offered a particularly prescient summation of the state of the retail landscape in the age of Amazon. Monday evening, 200 upbeat (if a bit soggy) clients joined Dechert for a reception at the nearby 48Lounge.

Tuesday morning began with a lively roundtable discussion on market issues and opportunities led by Jack Cohen. The discussion – among over two dozen industry insiders and including’s own Rick Jones – provided no lack of entertainment or insight into the current state of the industry. Presentations on the competition between portfolio and conduit lenders for borrower business and current trends in loan underwriting followed.

Tuesday’s keynote address was delivered by Jonathan Gray of Blackstone and included insightful commentary on topics such as the burgeoning REO-to-Rental market, the prospects for the domestic economy, the stability of the interest rate environment, the continuing saga that is the Euro-zone and opportunities in emerging markets. Meetings on the (increasingly crowded) B-Piece market, the issues facing IG and high-yield CMBS investors and servicing rounded-out Tuesday’s program.

Wednesday included an update from Martin Schuh on the current regulatory landscape and a discussion of the (significant) regulatory activity still to follow – TBFT, risk retention, TRIA, FASB changes and GSE reform to name a few. Congratulations to CREFC for again delivering a great program geared to reflect the diversity of the group’s constituents.

By: Matt Clark, Stewart McQueen and Dave Pildis