July 25, 2014

Lessons Learned about Real Estate Lending in this Last Recession

We all know real estate, and especially real estate lending, was heavily affected by the recession. Now that banks are starting to lend again, what can we learn from those bad years to set us on a better course for the future?

1. Real estate lending in the last cycle. We learned problem loans arose principally on loans with high loan to value ratios, or based on projections that were too optimistic, or in geographic markets where the lender did not have good market knowledge, and especially where the bank became more of a joint venturer with the developer. Smaller community banks especially felt more pressure to help home grown companies expand.

2. Problems exposed in the recession and recovery.

  • Appraisal methodology. Through the hard lessons of foreclosure and bankruptcy we learned more acutely about appraisal methodology, and the weaknesses of this methodology in troubled times became transparent. We learned that, although appraisers are not supposed to take “forced sales” into account in calculating fair market value, when the market is thin, “forced sales” may be the only comparables.

  • Exercise of developer’s rights. We also learned a developer’s decisions can have a drastic impact on a lenders’ ability to recover collateral, and on holding costs during workout or foreclosure. This was especially clear in cases where a condominium developer suddenly expanded the condominium into future phases, even when units were not selling, thus creating many separate tax key numbers with separate real estate tax bills, separate condominium association assessments, and no means of reversing that decision except with unanimous or near-unanimous consent of all condo unit owners and their lenders.

  • Interstate Land Sale Act. Condo unit buyers attempting to cancel contracts to purchase condos whose value had fallen, started using the long-dormant Interstate Land Sale Act as a weapon, with increased liability to developers.

  • Priority of municipality’s rights under development agreements. The Baylake Bank case in Wisconsin highlighted the ability to challenge the priority of charges and obligations contained in municipal development agreements.

  • Drastic impacts to condominium and homeowners’ associations’ budgets. Failure of even a small percentage of condo unit owners or homeowners to pay their assessments resulted in grave difficulties in that association’s ability to function.

  • Foreclosing on less than all needed assets of a project. Lenders foreclosing on projects discovered they lacked the ability to make needed changes in the project to facilitate its resale and needed to negotiate with their delinquent borrowers to secure Declarant rights reserved in condo declarations, permits issued only in the borrower’s name, and necessary easements.

3. Reaction to market risks. In response to these risks exposed in the recession, parties in the real estate market took action.

  • Title insurance changes. In reaction to the sudden increase in title claims, title companies not only increased their fees substantially, but also reversed their practice of deleting the “creditor’s rights” exception in their policies.

  • Secondary mortgage market changes. In response to liability claims, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Veterans Affairs and others modified their requirements for purchase of loans from primary lenders, which changed requirements for condominium declarations and strongly encouraged phasing of projects.

  • Lending changes. Lenders are now under more scrutiny and stiffer governmental oversight on all real estate loans.

Those of us who are involved in the commercial real estate world hope we are starting on a new cycle of expansion. However the “hangover” of this recession will require us to change our documents and practices for success in this new period.


About the Author

nancy leary haggerty

Nancy Haggerty is a partner in the Land & Resources Practice Group. Her 30+ years of experience covers a broad range of real estate law, including assisting clients in purchases, sales and leases of property, and development and zoning work; representing borrowers and lenders in real estate loans; assisting in foreclosures and workouts; advising on questions of condominium law; negotiating construction and architects' contracts; and assisting in real estate litigation. She has worked extensively with TIF financing and municipal development agreements, and with a number of other...


Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.