For Immediate Release: October 11, 2011
Day of Reckoning Has Arrived For Commercial Real Estate Lenders
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.–A collapse of the commercial real estate sector will be catastrophic to financial institutions and the economy so lenders must act now to avoid such a financial debacle, says A. Barry Cappello, nationally renowned attorney specializing in lender liability law.
“With the exception of prime properties in large cities such as Los Angeles and New York, commercial real estate has been an unmitigated disaster,” says Cappello, managing partner in the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Cappello & Noël and author of Lender Liability. “TARP helped banks survive the housing mortgage meltdown. That money won’t be there when commercial loans start to fall apart, which we’re already seeing.”
Unlike residential housing borrowers, commercial borrowers can have tens of millions of dollars tied up in a single property. “Banks are beginning to foreclose on commercial properties, but that is the absolutely wrong way out,” says Cappello.
Cappello suggests that instead of foreclosing, lenders should renegotiate interest rates and principal or even arrange short sales with borrowers. “These are unique times and they call for creative action,” says Cappello. “Banks need to be flexible. This is especially true when lender liability is an issue. When banks become nervous, and we are in very nervous times, some lenders overreach and breach their loan agreements with their borrowers–whether the borrowers are behind in their loan payments or not. History shows that whenever the economy is hurting, there are always a percentage of lenders who behave badly and literally drive a borrower into default.”
Cappello cautions, “Unless lenders are willing to work with their commercial borrowers, they may be faced with unmanageable REO portfolios as well as protracted multi-million-dollar lender liability litigation. Commercial borrowers will fight to keep ownership of their property. If there are violations of due process in the foreclosure procedure or illegal banking practices, you can be sure commercial borrowers will seek legal redress.”
Do not expect a commercial real estate disaster to drag on like the housing fiasco. “Banks can’t count on another government bailout. They’re on their own when it comes to commercial loans,” says Cappello. “It’s in their best interest to work out financing solutions with their commercial borrowers. If they don’t, some banks simply won’t survive and they will drag the economy down with them.”