Last week, the CREFC Annual Conference was back in its traditional New York venue, which benefitted not only the Manhattan hospitality market’s RevPAR but also provided for an exciting and lively location in Times Square.  Dechert’s bash on Monday evening was extremely well attended and the guests were treated to passed hors d’oeuvres and the

South Beach played host to the 2018 CREFC January Conference last week, as roughly 1,800 of our best friends in the CRE lending and securitization industry assembled in Miami to reflect on another year gone by and to muse about what’s in store (or out of store, in the case of retail) for 2018. In keeping with tradition, Dechert’s reception at the SLS Hotel was a hotbed of schmoozing, deal talk and employment fair, as over 400 guests took a break from discussing the SEC to… watch the SEC. The excitement of the Alabama-Georgia national championship game was a welcomed excuse to extend the party well beyond the official ending time (a move that is quickly becoming an expected budget buster for this annual event).

As usual, Dechert was well represented at the conference. Dechert’s Laura Swihart served as conference co-chair, and Rick Jones moderated a riveting (ok, not so riveting) panel on “Floating Rate Loans: Circa 2018”.

Conference panelists and attendees were generally bullish, and why wouldn’t they be after a 2017 that saw $95.3 billion in U.S. CMBS issuance (not including the GSEs). For color, that number is up more than 25% from 2016. Not a bad way to usher in the risk retention era.
Continue Reading 2018 CREFC January Conference – Plateau or Status Quo?

Washington, DC SkylineCREFC held its Annual Conference last week in Washington D.C. Given the current politically charged climate, 2017 felt like a very appropriate time to move the Annual Conference from its traditional home in New York to Washington. Although attendance was down slightly from last year, over 1000 people attended the conference. Dechert hosted a reception on Monday at The Source restaurant for 250 friends and colleagues, where the excellent food and free flowing drinks lasted well beyond the official closing time.

The conference featured a number of new panels this year, including panels on the state of retail and the New York City real estate market. As usual, Dechert was well-represented in the panels and meetings. Dechert’s Dave Forti participated in a panel on “The Art of the Deal: Large Loan Challenges in 2017”, which discussed the current state of the large loan market and the challenges facing single-asset single-borrower (SASB) securitizations. One highlight of conference was the industry leaders’ round-table, which included Dechert’s Rick Jones and Laura Swihart, who closed out the roundtable in typical satirical, Washington fashion (Covfefe anyone?)
Continue Reading 2017 CREFC Annual Conference: Into the Heart of the Swamp

Since my earliest days in the CRE capital markets biz, there has always been a drumbeat of grumbling from the borrower community about the annoying complexity, expense and delay of having one’s loan serviced in a capital markets transaction.  It’s been going on forever.  Like noise, like listening to Brits complaining about their weather; it’s ubiquitous, apparently personally gratifying, but largely inconsequential for outcomes.  The business goes on.  Data indicates that as many as 60% of all new CMBS loans come from refinancing non-CMBS loans, so it’s  not like a structured finance ghetto here.  The sell side takes comfort from the old saw that no sensible borrower would go to the CMBS window except as a last resort… like, three basis points or five bucks in extra proceeds.  Ok, that’s a tad too harsh and dismissive.  But going to the capital markets window for lower rates, more proceeds or less recourse is entirely rational.  On the other hand, the narrative about the pain through servicing in the capital markets is also real.
Continue Reading The Dilemma of the Really Annoyed Borrower

CREFC has surveyed some of its attendees—all major participants in the commercial real estate finance industry—at the 2017 CRE Finance Council January Conference in Miami.  CREFC’s 2017 market outlook survey confirmed what we observed at the conference this year, that for the most part survey respondents were cautiously optimistic in the face of the Trump Administration, Risk Retention and movement near the peak of the real estate cycle.  We decided to dig a little deeper to see how this year’s survey responses differed from last year’s. Armed with the benefit of a little hindsight, let’s consider the year we had, the year we expected, and the year we’ve just begun.
Continue Reading Reading the Financial Tea Leaves: CREFC Market Outlook Survey 2017

And now to return to our commentary a few weeks back about the stultifying impact of ill-thought through rules and regulations (at best) (Brexit has intervened).  This is our Regulatory State which broadly attempted to pick winners and losers and modify market behavior, to get an engineered outcome by using the blunderbuss of proscriptive rules and regulation.
Continue Reading A Trip Through the Labyrinth – The Regulatory Man in Full

The slow start to 2016 did not dampen the enthusiasm at CREFC’s Annual Conference, held last week in New York City.  The conference saw record attendance, with standing-room-only crowds at virtually every panel.  As with the Industry Leaders Conference in January, the hot topics on people’s minds were risk retention (and the rest of the regulatory headwinds), liquidity and the competitiveness of the CMBS market.

The conference made very clear that we are at an inflection point in the current cycle.  The general mood of the conference, in our view, was the confluence of nervousness and cautious optimism.  The gloominess of the first quarter, and fears over the “sky is falling,” has yielded to mild bouts of enthusiasm (at least if the parties were any indication).  The capital markets have settled down over the past few months, spreads have tightened, and borrowers have begun to trickle back into the CMBS market.

Clearly our industry faces headwinds, and nobody is betting on a record second half, but we also did not hear anyone ringing the death knell for our business.  We left the conference with more questions than answers.  Here are some:Continue Reading CREFC Annual Conference 2016: Headwinds or Head First Into the Wall?

With apologies to George Dangerfield, who published The Strange Death of Liberal England in 1935 chronicling the collapse of the British Liberal Party prior to World War I, I’m borrowing his title for this commentary.  Okay, bear with me.  Regrettably, we may be witnessing something happening to our banking system which is somewhat reminiscent of the death throes of one of England’s great political parties. The Liberal Party expired in the years leading up to the Great War not because of some single momentous and metamorphic event, but because of a series of modest crises, each in its own right small bore which, at the time, was not viewed as terribly consequential.  It failed because of the stultifying, dismal and confused responses of the Liberals to these events.  In the end, the party became untenable as a party of government.  Let’s hope no one writes that book about our banking system in the years to come.

Our enormously complex, interdependent, vibrant, entrepreneurial, adaptive, world girding and dynamic U.S. banking system has played a seminal and still critical role in making this economy succeed.  It is now under assault by large segments of our political elites and their attendant and enabling (self-identified) intelligencia.  This fraternity inspired by the twin idee fixe that the Great Recession was caused by the failures and failing, economic, structural and ethical of our banking system and a fabulist conviction that banking can be “fixed.”  This is a chimerical crusade to overturn the business cycle.  Fruitless and dangerous.Continue Reading The Strange Death of the Modern Financial System

Earlier this month CREFC held its “Commercial Real Estate Finance Summit – West” in Santa Monica, CA, which – while not nearly as large as the annual conference in New York – was still very well attended (roughly 175 attendees, an increase over last year).

Given the sentiment earlier this year in Miami, the fluctuation in spreads over the past couple quarters, and the (now undeniably) slow start to 2016 for many in the industry, the two topics du jour for the Summit should come as no surprise: risk retention and the state of the market.
Continue Reading CREFC Commercial Real Estate Finance Summit (West) 2016

Last week, the House Committee on Financial Services reported out the Preserving Access to CRE Capital Act of 2016 (the “bill”) in a remarkably bipartisan sort of way (paving the way for: “Well, yes, I did vote for it, but then I voted against it.”).  The bill, which was drafted and backed by CREFC, would exempt certain single asset/single borrower securitizations from the risk retention requirements, would allow the B-piece buyer to acquire the risk retention piece in a senior/subordinate capital structure and loosen the criteria for a qualified commercial real estate loan to make it more useful for CMBS players endeavoring to meet the risk retention requirements of Dodd-Frank.  See Dechert’s OnPoint for a more detailed description of the bill.
Continue Reading Flash: Congress Fixes the CMBS Risk Retention Problem (Just Kidding)