More than $54.3 billion in U.S. commercial mortgage backed securities have been transferred to loan workout specialists mostly because of payment delinquencies, a 320% increase since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Hotel and retail properties, the sectors hit hardest by restrictions on travel and public gatherings to reduce virus transmissions, make up the vast majority of the debt transferred to special servicers.
“These loans currently account for 89% of the special servicing balance, though loans for mixed-use properties, at 5%, generally include a retail and hotel component,” said Keith Banhazl, a Moody’s managing director.
Loans transferred to special servicers may end with a payment modification or foreclosure, resulting in losses for bond holders that are likely to increase if the economic downturn lasts long. About $4.2 billion in distressed loans transfered out of special service since March as borrowers reached temporary agreements to defer payments or caught up on delinquent debt as business rebounded.
Several of the largest real estate investors have stopped paying hotel and retail debt while soliciting billions of dollars from new investors for property opportunities that emerge out of the crisis.
The Moody’s report also found that the rate of severely delinquent loans (more than 121 days late) nearly tripled in August, jumping to 2.3% from 0.8% in July. Short-term delinquencies declined in August as borrowers entered forbearance agreements or caught up on past debts.
Smaller loans bundled in portfolios, known as conduit CMBS, accounted for $5 billion of the $5.4 billion of loans transfered in August to special servicers. Since March, $25.1 billion of conduit loans were transferred to workout specialists. Office properties made up only 3% of special servicing loans.