Mortgage Observer

Life Companies Are Back and Strategically Competing Against Big Banks. Here’s How.

Illustration by Thomas Pitilli.

It’s easy to see why life companies continue to plow money into commercial and multifamily real estate mortgages: They have provided strong returns, inflicted virtually no losses and match up perfectly with their long-term liabilities.

“Mortgages have proven to be really good, solid investments for life companies,” said Robert Merck, head of real estate investors for MetLife, the top life insurer in this space and the subject of a longer profile in this month’s Mortgage Observer. Read More

Manhattan Market Report

Sevenfold Retail Sales Volume Catapults $13 Billion Q4: Eastern Consolidated

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An unprecedented sevenfold increase in retail property sales fueled the Manhattan commercial real estate sales market’s epic comeback in the fourth quarter – its strongest performance since 2007, according to preliminary data from Eastern Consolidated.

The hallmark quarter, with nearly $13 billion in sales volume – the strongest since record-breaking performances in 2007 (peaking at $19 billion in Q2 of 2007) – was triggered by fears of impending capital gains taxes, which had owners scrambling to unload properties before year’s end.

“This was definitely fiscal-driven growth,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, Eastern Consolidated’s chief economist.  “Sellers wanted to cash out and buyers knew it, so they were eager to come to the table as well.” Read More

New York Life Signs Mega-Renewal, Second Biggest Lease of Past Year

In one of the largest transactions of the past year, New York Life has signed a long-term renewal for its 415,000-square-foot offices at 63 Madison Avenue.

It may just be a plain vanilla renewal, but in a tepid market, this was the second largest lease of 2009, on the heels of Paul Weiss’s 550,000-square-foot renewal Read More