After a boost from the government's savings and loan bailout, the secondary market for commercial real estate loans appears to have gained a permanent place on the lending landscape.

Despite higher interest rates early in the year and the gradual withdrawal of the Resolution Trust Corp. from the real estate securitization market, transaction volume declined only 8.5% from 1994's record level, to $18.3 billion, according to a new survey by E&Y Kenneth Leventhal.

Commercial mortgage securitization "has not only survived beyond the credit crunch, but is a critical and permanent element of real estate finance and investment," concluded the report, which was issued Tuesday at a Mortgage Bankers Association conference in San Diego.

Although commercial banks accounted for only 3% of the transaction volume, banks are likely to fuel future growth as the real estate markets recover, said Joseph B. Rubin, national director of capital markets for real estate group, which is a unit of Ernst & Young.

"We see a lot of the major banks wanting to lend again," he said, adding that the secondary market will enable them to earn origination fees and servicing fees, while funding the loans in the capital markets.

Citicorp and Bankers Trust New York Corp. have been active for several years. Mr. Rubin said NationsBank Corp. has become a big player, and that the combined Chase Manhattan Corp. and Chemical Banking Corp. "is going to be formidable."

Mr. Rubin said that the average transaction size is slightly more than $200 million, and that the portfolios generally were made up of loans of $2.5 million to $5 million. About half of the non-government issues, or 41 deals, involved portfolios with a mixture of property types, the report said. Apartments were the second most frequently securitized property type, accounting for 20 deals. Pools of loans on retail property backed 14 deals.

Mortgage conduits, which package loans originated by others, were the largest issuers of commercial mortgage-backed securities. They issued $4.5 billion for a 25% market share, the report showed.

Troubled-loan investment funds run by Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund, and others accounted for 17% of the transaction volume, as they continued to finance their acquisitions through commercial mortgage-backed securities transactions.

The accounting firm predicted 1996 volume would hit $17 billion to $19 billion.

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