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Multifamily originations expected to set a new record in 2021

The Mortgage Bankers Association bulked up its forecast for commercial and multifamily originations and now expects a 31% year-over-year rise in volume.

Multifamily originations are expected to increase to $409 billion, a 13% year-over-year increase and a new record, topping last year’s $360 billion in multifamily volume. This category includes some loans made by small- and mid-sized banks not captured in the overall total.

The MBA now predicts $578 billion of mortgages secured by income producing properties to be originated this year, compared with $442 billion in pandemic-affected 2020. Back in February, the MBA forecasted $486 billion in commercial and multifamily mortgage volume for 2021.

“There remain significant differences by property type, but incomes have rebounded strongly and investor interest in real estate and real estate finance is robust,” Jamie Woodwell, vice president for commercial real estate research, said in a press release. “The result is strong property appreciation and increased transaction activity, both of which are fueling financings.”

Even with the pandemic, 2020’s multifamily activity was a scant 1% below 2019’s record $364 billion.

This year, the government sponsored enterprises have a $70 billion annual cap each, for a total of $140 billion, lower than 2020’s combined cap of $200 billion. Freddie Mac so far this year purchased $27 billion, while Fannie Mae purchased $32.4 billion. It is likely other investors are making up the difference, although given various factors, such as market conditions and seasonality, it is hard to determine at this point which ones are stepping up and which are pulling back.

A separate report by MBA released on Aug. 5 on 2020’s multifamily originations showed that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the investors on $164 billion or nearly 46% of the total. Banks and thrifts were next, at $113 billion and commercial mortgage backed securities a distant third at $29 billion, followed by life insurers at $21 billion. The life insurers had the largest average loan size at $28.6 million, followed by the Federal Housing Administration at $19.9 million.

Of the 60,321 multifamily loans originated last year, banks and thrifts made 44,731.

For 2022, the MBA predicts an even higher total volume of $597 billion in commercial and multifamily lending; of that, $421 billion is multifamily only. This is higher than February’s forecast of $539 billion for total lending next year, with $358 billion in multifamily.

“MBA’s forecast anticipates the economic rebound to continue this year and next, with real estate benefiting both from a rebound from last year’s lows, and from broader economic growth,” Woodwell said. “There remains uncertainty about the impact of new strains of the virus in the fall, but even in a negative scenario — which we don’t expect — it is hard to imagine the real estate market having to experience anything like the widespread closures of last year.”

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