Contact Us

A Loophole Is Leaving Banks Exposed To Risky Real Estate Loans

Banks are still being exposed to risky real estate loans, calling into question whether post-crisis financial regulations have had any bearing on traditional lenders' commercial property exposure.


Commercial lending regulations grew more stringent following the 2008 financial crisis when the government was forced to bail out big banks after a series of loans went bad. The Dodd-Frank Act and the International Basel III are two such examples of guidelines that have since been put in place to make real estate loans less appealing and more expensive for banks.

As a result, bank exposure to risky commercial mortgages, including construction or bridge loans, fell, and alternative lenders and debt funds started gaining prominence.

These nonbank lenders — which include developers-turned-lenders like Related Cos. and Kushner Cos., commercial mortgage REITs and large asset managers like Blackstone Group — are stepping in and filling a void left by big banks by offering bridge and mezzanine loans.

What is going unnoticed is that alt lenders are often selling large portions of the loans they have issued to big banks, creating a loophole that keeps banks entangled in risky real estate loans, The Real Deal reports.

While banks do not appear to be lending directly to commercial real estate players in large quantities, they are still lending to the debt funds and mortgage trusts that are lending to developers. Though the risks are similar, on paper it does not appear that way, TRD reports. It simply looks as though banks are buying securities or extending low-risk credit lines to fund managers.

This means they can avoid limits on real estate lending, such as those outlined in Dodd-Frank that require lenders to keep 5% of the value of any loan on their balance sheets, rather than selling it entirely in the form of bonds.