An abrupt reversal in fortune for small-balance lenders during 2020 was predictable considering the devastating impacts of the pandemic on the Main Street economy. Small-balance loan originations sank to the lowest level since 2010 as a result.
The volume of closed loans under $5 million totaled just $186 billion last year, a substantial 41% decline from the previous year’s sum of $317 billion. Of course, the YOY percentage drop was magnified by the fact that 2019 loan volume reached a record level amid a booming CRE market expansion fueled in part by a plunge in the 10-Year Treasury rate below 2% (see the nearby graph).
The Mortgage Bankers Association similarly reported a 26% decline across all commercial and multifamily mortgages last year after a record haul in 2019.
Aspects of recent small-balance loan (SBL) origination trends included:
With solid evidence of a revival of small-cap CRE and small business, legacy small-balance lenders are poised for a rebound in SBL production this year. The expected bounce back has also inspired new entrants to the space. For these and other societal reasons then, it certainly feels like Springtime is upon us after difficult times.