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次贷危机又要来了?美房地产市场贷款风险再次逼近警戒线

Rey Mashayekhi 2019年06月08日

在经济下行拐点即将到来之际,美国的商业房地产借贷机构或面临重大风险。

加州丰塔纳的一块出租零售场所的广告牌。图片来源:David McNew—Getty Images

来自于美国市场分析机构的一份最新报告显示,在经济下行拐点即将到来之际,美国的商业房地产借贷机构或面临重大风险。

房地产数据研究机构CrediFi公司在通过《财富》杂志首次披露的一份报告中称,美国的贷款机构对商业房地产行业的风险敞口“比大家意识到的大得多”。该研究认为,一旦经济下行,各大贷款机构在零售地产和工业地产领域的风险将尤为突出,商业抵押担保证券(CMBS)发行量的下降也将给各大银行的资债情况带来更多风险。

CrediFi公司追踪了在2018年审批的价值9250多亿美元的商业房地产贷款的发放情况——这个“巨大”的数字已经超过了一些正规行业组织记录的数据。比如根据美国抵押贷款银行家协会(MBA)的统计,去年美国新增的商业房地产贷款发放额只有5740亿美元。

CrediFi公司在其研究报告中称,美国抵押贷款银行家协会给出的数据是“具有误导性且不完整的”,而CrediFi公司的报告则基于“详细的、贷款层面的数据”,更加完整地涵盖了美国商业房地产借贷市场的真实情况。报告中的数据表明,银行和非银行借贷机构“在某些‘高风险’领域的风险敞口令人不安,比如零售地产和工业地产。”

根据CrediFi公司的数据,2018年,美国零售和工业地产领域新增贷款总额超过2500亿美元。相比之下,美国抵押贷款银行家协会给出的数据只有不到1500亿美元。CrediFi公司表示,这个数字低估了消费支出和工业生产下行对借贷机构的风险。

CrediFi公司的CEO伊利·拉辛对《财富》杂志表示:“这两个领域对经济十分敏感,而且对(经济)下行也非常敏感。”

这份报告似乎传递了一种“经济下行即将到来”的感觉,对此拉辛也没有否论。他表示,根据CrediFi公司的数据,去年美国的借贷总额下降了4%,这表明由于“担心市场风险等级上升”,借贷机构已经开始减少放贷。

他补充道:“本轮经济周期是一个非常长的经济周期,如果你认为经济下行已经不远了,那风险就已经迫在眉睫了。”

对于商业房地产借贷市场的风险高于公认水平的说法,美国抵押贷款银行家协会的副会长杰米·伍德韦尔表示了质疑。他指出,从美联储和美国联邦存款保险公司(FDIC)披露的情况看,银行业的贷款状况展现了“极高的透明度”,商业抵押贷款和住房抵押贷款的坏债率“正处于历史最低水平”。

不过,伍德韦尔也承认,在追踪商业房地产贷款数据时,美国抵押贷款银行家协会和CrediFi公司“衡量的是不同的东西”。美国抵押贷款银行家协会主要研究“收入产出型”地产的贷款,这种地产通常是由一方租赁给另一方的;对“业主自用型地产”的数据则相对研究不足——也就是那种经常被企业用作工商业贷款抵押品的房地产。而这部分地产的贷款数据则体现在了CrediFi公司的报告里。

伍德韦尔也对美国抵押贷款银行家协会的研究方法进行了辩护。他指出,该协会的数据主要关注的是那些“拥有专用商业房地产平台”的主流贷款机构,因为这些机构提供了商业房地产贷款市场融资总量的大部分。

近些年来,在网商的冲击下,无论是全国性的连锁超市,还是“夫妻店”式的小卖部,传统零售行业处境之艰难,已经不必多说。零售地产项目的业主也面临空置率不断上升的问题,这也影响了他们的现金流,使他们更加难以偿还这些商业地产的贷款。另一方面,则是全美各地大量购物中心和大型商场的滥觞。

CrediFi公司的报告并未指出哪些借贷机构对零售行业的风险敞口最大,不过从美国抵押贷款银行家协会2018年的数据来看,富国银行(去年发放63.5亿美元)、 Key Bank(50亿美元)、摩根大通(33.4亿美元)、摩根士丹利(32.9亿美元)和德意志银行(21.9亿美元)等都是去年该领域最大的贷款机构。

商业房地产贷款公司ACRES Capital的董事长兼CEO马克·福格尔表示:“我确实认为,那些发放了大量(零售)贷款的银行,可能很快看起来就不会那么好了。我认为你很快就会看到一些困难。”

而工业地产则成了商业房地产领域比较受欢迎的抵押物。在很多情况下,这同样是由于电商的崛起给实体零售造成了毁灭性的打击,而这些电商公司又需要大量空间来满足其仓储和配送需求,因此,很多投资者和贷款机构都涌入了工业地产领域。

美国抵押贷款银行家协会的数据显示,2019年第一季度,美国工业地产贷款发放量按美元计算同比增长了73%。去年工业地产领域放贷最多的机构有富国银行(55.4亿美元)、花旗银行(39.3亿美元)、摩根士丹利(30.4亿美元)、PGIM房地产公司(29.7亿美元)和摩根大通(25.3亿美元)等。

对于CrediFi公司关于工业地产项目风险过高的说法,有些商业房地产市场的资深人士表示不能苟同。比如商业地产经纪公司世邦魏理仕(CBRE)的债务和结构性金融部门执行副总裁詹姆斯·米伦表示,当前从贷款的角度看,零售和工业地产的风险与CrediFi公司的评估是“截然相反”的。

商业房地产债务公司ACORE Capital的联合创始人、执行董事沃伦德·汉也表示:“我们看到,市场对任何工业地产的需求都出现了彻底的爆发。市场对该资产类别的需求之高,是我以前从未见过的。”

不过拉辛也指出,CrediFi公司的数据还包括了更加传统的工业地产的债务,如制造行业所使用的房地产。这个领域对宏观经济环境非常敏感,特别是在当前中美贸易战不断升级的背景下。此外,CrediFi的数据也涵盖了以企业房地产资产作抵押的工商业贷款(这一类贷款并未包含在美国抵押贷款银行家协会的数据中)。拉辛在谈到工业地产市场的风险时表示:“市场上并非只有大麻种植农场和亚马逊的配送中心。”

CrediFi公司的报告还指出,商业抵押担保证券(CMBS)发行量的下降,也是另一个值得担忧的迹象。2018年,只有不到10%的零售地产和工业地产贷款被证券化。该报告认为,这表明“更多的此类风险正在传统借贷机构的资债表上聚集。”

不过,由于全球金融危机过后的这些年,商业抵押担保证券的发行量总体呈下降趋势,因而债券市场的参与者对这一现象的意义也存在分歧。商业抵押贷款预警公司(Commercial Mortgage Alert)的数据显示,与2007年逾2280亿美元的历史最高点相比,美国商业抵押担保证券2017年的发行量不足880亿美元,去年更是进一步下滑至770亿美元左右。

商业房地产证券公司麦迪逊不动产资本(Madison Realty Capital)的联合创始人、执行董事约什·泽根认为,在经济危期前的CMBS贷款,很多的还款周期是10年,“有的到期了,却永远无法偿还了。在2007年的2280亿美元贷款中,有一半的发放量本来就不应该证券化。今天的世界中,有了风险保留的相关规定,就永远不可能有那样的(发放量)。”

在一些债务市场的资深人士看来,后经济危机时代的商业房地产贷款市场已经高度多元化了。大量非银行债务基金的出现,填补了银行退出工程贷款等高风险债务领域后留下的空白。这也使银行业总体上处于一个比以前更安全的境地。

房地产债务经纪公司Ackman-Ziff集团的负责人马克·沃伦表示:“银行界一直在去风险,而且也比以前有了更多的纪律,各大银行的杠杆率并没有危机前那么高。除了加强监管和严格承销标准,银行的资本金也比金融危机前多得多,因此他们能够吸收的损失也比以前多得多。”

虽然非银行借贷机构在商业房地产贷款市场所占的比重越来越大,但这并不意味着他们没有执行自己的纪律。

Square Mile资本公司便是这样一家商业贷款机构,该公司的高级常务董事杰夫·法斯托夫表示,由于担心这一轮美国历史上持续时间最长的经济增长周期即将迎来“拐点”,他的公司这些日子已经“谨慎得多”了。“如果事情即将起这样或那样的变化,我们在承销方面就要更保守些。”

法斯托夫还指出,总体上看,与上一个经济周期各大贷款机构“激进”的杠杆率相比,今天的商业房地产借贷机构已经变得“克制得多”了。

随着美国经济进入本轮经济增长周期的后半段,下行拐点或许已然不远,在这种情况下,像CrediFi这样的公司对借贷机构的风险敞口发出预警,也许是一件好事。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

Commercial real estate lenders may have their hands full in the event of a recession, according to a new report.

U.S. lenders have “much greater risk exposure than publicly recognized” to the commercial real estate sector, real estate data firm CrediFi says in the report, provided first to Fortune. The study deems lenders’ exposure to the retail and industrial property sectors as particularly risky in the event of an economic downturn, as well as declining commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) originations that leave more risk on lenders’ balance sheets.

CrediFi tracked more than $925 billion of commercial real estate loan originations in 2018—a “huge” figure that exceeds the numbers documented by more established industry groups like the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), which reported nearly $574 billion in new loans last year.

But the real estate data startup describes the MBA’s figures as “misleading and incomplete” in its report, which it says is based on “granular, loan-level data” covering a wider swath of the commercial real estate lending market. That data shows both banks and non-bank lenders have “particularly troubling exposure” to certain ‘at-risk’ sectors, namely both retail and industrial lending,” the report says.

New loan originations on retail and industrial properties combined to surpass $250 billion in 2018, per CrediFi. By contrast, the MBA’s data has that figure at less than $150 billion, which CrediFi says underestimates lenders’ exposure to risks such as a downturn in consumer spending and industrial production.

“Those two segments are so sensitive to the economy and would be very sensitive to an [economic] downturn,” CrediFi CEO Ely Razin tells Fortune.

Razin echoes the report’s sentiment that “a downturn is coming”—citing a 4 percent decline in lending volumes last year, according to CrediFi data, as indicating that lenders are starting to pull back amid “concerns about an added level of risk in the market.”

“This is a very long economic cycle, and if you’re a believer that the downturn is coming sooner rather than later, the risks are imminent,” he adds.

Jamie Woodwell, the MBA’s vice president of research and economics, disputes CrediFi’s findings that there is more risk in the commercial real estate lending market than recognized. He cites “incredible transparency” into the debt held by banks via disclosures by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Federal Reserve, as well as commercial and multifamily mortgage delinquency rates that “are at their lowest levels in history.”

Woodwell acknowledges that the MBA and CrediFi are “measuring different things” when it comes to their tracking of commercial real estate loan data. He says the MBA focuses its research on the financing of “income-producing” properties usually leased from one party to another, while eschewing data on “owner-occupied real estate”—the kind that businesses often use as collateral on commercial & industrial (C&I) loans, which are factored into the CrediFi report.

But Woodwell defends the MBA’s methodology, noting that the group’s data focuses on major lenders “with a dedicated commercial real estate platform” who provide a majority of the market’s financing volume.

The headwinds facing the retail sector have been well-documented in recent years, with the rise of online retail hurting everyone from national chains to mom-and-pop stores. In turn, retail landlords have faced rising vacancies that have diminished cash flows—making it harder to pay off the loans on their properties—and created an overabundance of malls and shopping centers across the country.

While CrediFi did not provide a list of the lenders with the greatest exposure to retail, the MBA’s data for 2018 identified Wells Fargo ($6.35 billion in originations last year), Key Bank ($5 billion), JPMorgan Chase ($3.34 billion), Morgan Stanley ($3.29 billion), and Deutsche Bank ($2.19 billion) as the largest lenders to the sector.

“I do think the banks have a lot of [retail] loans on the books that aren’t going to look so good soon,” according to Mark Fogel, president and CEO of commercial real estate debt lender ACRES Capital. “I think you’ll start to see some distress.”

Industrial real estate, in turn, has proven among the more in-demand sectors in commercial real estate—a dynamic fueled, in many cases, by the same e-commerce companies whose emergence has devastated the brick-and-mortar retail sector. With such companies needing more space than ever to serve their warehousing and distribution needs, investors and debt lenders alike have flocked to the industrial sector.

Industrial property loans grew 73% by dollar volume, year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2019, according to the MBA. The largest lenders to the industrial sector last year included Wells Fargo ($5.54 billion in originations), Citibank ($3.93 billion), Morgan Stanley ($3.04 billion), PGIM Real Estate ($2.97 billion), and JPMorgan Chase ($2.53 billion), per MBA data.

Some commercial real estate finance market sources expressed their surprise about CrediFi’s prognosis on industrial property types. James Millon, an executive vice president at commercial real estate brokerage CBRE’s debt and structured finance division, describes the retail and industrial sectors as “polar opposites from a lending perspective right now.”

“What we’re seeing is a fundamental explosion in the demand for anything industrial,” says Warren de Haan, co-founder and managing partner at commercial real estate debt firm ACORE Capital. “The desirability of the asset class is the highest I’ve ever seen it.”

But Razin notes that CrediFi’s numbers also account for debt on more conventional industrial properties, like those used for manufacturing—a sector sensitive to macroeconomic conditions, and particularly so given escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China—as well as C&I business loans that are backed by companies’ real estate assets (which are not included in the MBA’s data). “It’s not just marijuana farms and Amazon distribution centers,” Razin says of the industrial real estate market’s risk profile.

CrediFi also points to declining CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities) volumes as another warning sign, citing figures that show that less than 10% of retail and industrial loan originations in 2018 were securitized. That means that “more of this risk is clustered on the balance sheets of traditional lenders,” according to the report.

Yet debt market participants are also split on the significance of this, given the general drop in CMBS volumes in the years after the financial crisis. Compared to their all-time high of more than $228 billion in 2007, CMBS issuances in the U.S. totaled less than $88 billion in 2017 and fell even further last year to nearly $77 billion, according to data from Commercial Mortgage Alert.

Those pre-crisis CMBS loans, many of which carried 10-year terms, “came due and they’ll never be replaced,” according to Josh Zegen, co-founder and managing principal of commercial real estate debt and equity firm Madison Realty Capital. “That [$228 billion] year in 2007—half of that volume should have never gone into securitization. In today’s world, with risk retention [regulations], you would have never had that [volume].”

Debt market sources also depicted a commercial real estate lending market that has diversified greatly post-recession—with a slew of non-bank debt funds having emerged to fill the void left by banks who have retreated from riskier types of debt, such as construction lending. That’s left the banks in an altogether safer position than they were previously.

“There’s been a de-risking and a lot more discipline in the bank world, for sure,” says Marc Warren, a principal at real estate debt brokerage Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group. “The banks aren’t levered nearly as much as they were pre-crisis. In addition to tighter regulations and underwriting [standards], they have significantly more capital than they did pre-crisis and can absorb significantly more losses than they could before.”

But that doesn’t mean that alternative, non-bank lenders—who have come to comprise an ever-larger slice of the commercial real estate lending pie—aren’t also exercising discipline of their own.

Jeff Fastov, a senior managing director at one such player, Square Mile Capital, said his firm is “being way more cautious” these days amid concerns that we could be nearing “a turning point” in one of the longest economic expansions in U.S. history. “If things are subject to go one way or another, we’re being more conservative as to how we underwrite deals.”

Fastov also notes that, in general, today’s commercial real estate lenders have been “substantially more controlled” compared to the “aggressive” levels of leverage and pricing being offered to borrowers in the previous cycle.

With the likes of CrediFi raising alarms about lenders’ risk exposure in a maturing economic cycle, that sort of discipline could bode well—should things take a turn for the worse.

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