Mortgage Delinquency Affected by the Pandemic, Impact Differs by Property Types

After a slight deterioration at the end of 2020, commercial and multifamily mortgage performance improved for the second straight month in February.

Share of Total Unpaid Principal Balance; by Capital Source

Source: Mortgage Bankers Association
Source: Mortgage Bankers Association

It’s been quite the year for the world, the U.S. and commercial real estate finance. Our social and economic responses to combat the spread of COVID-19 have had major impacts – both positive and negative – on various property types and capital sources.

The good news? Challenges remain, but vaccine shots in arms and slowing caseloads provide hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  

According to two reports released earlier this month by MBA, delinquency rates for mortgages backed by commercial and multifamily properties for the most part continue to decrease. The findings come from MBA’s Commercial Real Estate Finance (CREF) Loan Performance Survey for February, and the latest quarterly Commercial/Multifamily Delinquency Report for the fourth quarter of 2020.

After a slight deterioration at the end of 2020, commercial and multifamily mortgage performance improved for the second straight month in February, bringing delinquency rates down to the lowest level since April 2020. Lodging and retail property loans continue to show the greatest stress, but the shares of outstanding loan balances that are delinquent have fallen from their peak levels by 25 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Across all property types, the share of outstanding balances becoming newly delinquent is also the lowest since the onset of the pandemic, and less than one-quarter of the level from April 2020.

MBA expects the steep declines in mortgage borrowing and lending seen in 2020 to partially reverse this year. The economic rebound MBA anticipates in the second half of the year should bring greater stability to the markets, but with continued differentiation by property type. Much of the path forward will depend on the virus and our confidence and ability to move past it.

Jamie Woodwell is the Mortgage Bankers Association’s vice president of commercial real estate research.