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  • Writer's pictureColin Dubel

CMBS Financing, B-Piece Buyers & Taking Advantage of CMBS Loans

Commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) are financial instruments that allow investors to invest in a pool of commercial real estate loans. Here's how CMBS commercial mortgage financing works from start to finish:

  1. Loan Origination: The loan origination process begins with a borrower seeking financing for a commercial property. The borrower can be an individual or a company that needs to purchase or refinance a commercial property.

  2. Underwriting: The lender evaluates the borrower's creditworthiness, property value, and ability to repay the loan. If the lender approves the loan, they will fund it.

  3. Securitization: The lender may choose to securitize the loan by pooling it with other commercial real estate loans of similar credit quality, property type, and geographic location. This pool of loans is then sold to investors as a single security, known as a CMBS.

  4. B-piece Buyer: In the securitization process, a B-piece buyer is an institutional investor who purchases the riskiest part of the CMBS pool. This is known as the B-piece, and it represents the lowest-rated securities in the CMBS pool. The B-piece buyer is responsible for absorbing losses if any of the loans in the CMBS pool default.

  5. Rating: The CMBS pool is then rated by rating agencies based on the credit quality of the underlying loans. The rating agencies assign a credit rating to each tranche of the CMBS pool, which reflects the credit risk and potential return for investors.

  6. Distribution: The CMBS pool is then offered for sale to institutional investors, such as pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds, through a process known as distribution. The investors can buy individual tranches of the CMBS pool based on their risk appetite and return expectations.

  7. Cash Flows: The cash flows from the underlying loans in the CMBS pool are used to pay interest and principal to investors. The B-piece buyer is the last to receive cash flows from the CMBS pool, after all other investors have been paid.

  8. Prepayment Risk: The loans in the CMBS pool may be paid off early by the borrower, resulting in prepayment risk for investors. If a loan is paid off early, investors may receive less interest income than they expected.

In summary, CMBS commercial mortgage financing involves pooling commercial real estate loans and selling them as a single security to investors. The B-piece buyer purchases the riskiest part of the CMBS pool, and the cash flows from the underlying loans are used to pay interest and principal to investors.


How can an investor take advantage of CMBS financing?


Investors can take advantage of CMBS in several ways compared to conventional loans:

  1. Diversification: CMBS pools offer investors the ability to diversify their real estate holdings by investing in a variety of properties across different geographic regions and property types. This diversification can help to mitigate risk and increase potential returns.

  2. Access to Larger Properties: CMBS financing can provide access to larger commercial properties that may not be available through conventional financing. This can enable investors to take advantage of opportunities in high-growth markets or properties with significant upside potential.

  3. Reduced Exposure to Individual Loans: Investors in CMBS pools have reduced exposure to individual loans, as the risks associated with each loan are spread across a large pool of loans. This can help to reduce the impact of loan defaults or prepayments on the overall portfolio.

  4. Higher Yields: CMBS pools typically offer higher yields than conventional loans, reflecting the higher credit risk associated with commercial real estate loans.

  5. Liquidity: CMBS pools are traded on a liquid market, enabling investors to buy and sell their positions easily. This liquidity can provide investors with greater flexibility to manage their portfolio and respond to changing market conditions.

Overall, investors can take advantage of CMBS by diversifying their portfolio, accessing larger properties, reducing exposure to individual loans, earning higher yields, and benefiting from liquidity. However, investors should also be aware of the risks associated with CMBS, such as credit risk, interest rate risk, and prepayment risk, and conduct thorough due diligence before investing in these securities.


If you have any questions about this article or would like to discuss a scenario of your own with our team, please feel free to contact Colin Dubel at colin@harborwestcommercial.com or 949-735-6415.

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