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Modelling credit spreads on commercial mortgage loans

Tsolacos, S. & Lux, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-6097-8498 (2022). Modelling credit spreads on commercial mortgage loans. Journal of European Real Estate Research, 15(3), pp. 332-350. doi: 10.1108/JERER-04-2021-0022

Abstract

Purpose
This paper offers empirical evidence on factors influencing credit spreads on commercial mortgage loans. It extends existing work on the pricing of commercial mortgage loans. The authors examine the relative significance of a range of factors on loan pricing that are lender, asset and loan specific. The research explores and quantifies the sources of spread differentials among commercial mortgage loans. The paper contributes to a limited literature on the subject and serves the purpose of price discovery in commercial property lending. It offers a framework to compare actual pricing with fundamental-based estimates of loan spreads.

Design/methodology/approach
Panel analysis is deployed to examine the cross-section and time-series determinants of commercial mortgage loan margins and credit spreads. Using an exclusive database of loan portfolios in the United Kingdom (UK), the panel analysis enables the authors to analyse and quantify the impact of a number of theory-consistent and plausible factors determining the cost of lending to commercial real estate (CRE), including type and origin of lender, loan size, loan to value (LTV) and characteristics of asset financed – type, location and grade.

Findings
Spreads on commercial mortgages and, therefore, loan pricing differ by the type of lender – bank, insurance company and debt fund. The property sector is another significant risk factor lenders price in. The LTV ratio has increased in importance since 2012. Prior to global financial crisis (GFC), lenders made little distinction in pricing different LTVs. Loans secured in secondary assets command a higher premium of 50–60bps. The analysis establishes an average premium of 35bps for loans advanced in regions compared to London. London is particularly seen a less risky region for loan advancements in the post-GFC era.

Research limitations/implications
The study considers the role of lender characteristics and the changing regulation in the pricing of commercial mortgage loans and provides a framework to study spreads or pricing in this market that can include additional fundamental influences, such as terms of individual loans. The ultimate aim of such research is to assess whether mortgage loans are correctly priced and spotting risks emanating from actual loan spreads being lower than fundamental-based spreads pointing to tight pricing and over-lending.

Practical implications
The analysis provides evidence on lender criteria that determine the cost of loans. The study confirms that differences in regulation affect loan pricing. The regulatory impact is most visible in the increased significance of LTV. In that sense, regulation has been effective in restricting lending at high LTV levels.

Originality/value
The paper exploits a database of a commercial mortgage loan portfolio to make loan pricing more transparent to the different types of lender and borrowers. Lenders can use the estimates to assess whether commercial loans are fairly priced. Borrowers better understand the relative significance of risk factors affecting margins and the price they are charged. The results of this paper are of value to regulators as they can assist to understand the determinants of loan margins and gauge conditions in the lending market.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited. This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher.
Publisher Keywords: risk factors, credit spreads, commercial mortgage loands
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: Bayes Business School > Finance
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