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Our national real estate editor, Sibley Fleming, is in San Diego this week covering the big annual mortgage bankers confab. She snapped these panelists saying that fundamentals are improving, assets are becoming more financeable, and real estate is looking good as a global investment again: MBA chairman Michael Berman (CEO of CWCapital), KeyBank Real Estate Capital EVP E.J. Burke, Cohen Financial CEO Jack Cohen, Morgan Stanley managing director Timothy Gallagher, Principal Real Estate Investors CEO Patrick Halter, and PNC Real Estate/Midland Loan Services EVP Diana Reid. Tim says during the boom, Morgan Stanley made casino and construction loans, which it shouldn’t have, and the “spotlight on us right now is so much brighter than it’s ever been.”

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We’re about halfway through distressed loan workouts and de-levering, Diana says, and the process is slow—asset by asset, borrower by borrower, situation by situation. The good news: The flow into special servicing is now equal to the outflow. As FDIC bank closings pick up, it’s part of the sign that we’re working our way through. E.J. says there’s a perception there is tons more bad debt, but the top 25 banks’ higher-quality loans make up 85% of the market, while the remaining 7,750 small banks that typically did theriskier deals (eg, construction loans) make up 15% of the market.