A CMBS, or Commercial Mortgage Backed Security, consists of a group of commercial property loans that have been pooled together and securitized, in order to be sold to investors. These securities are broken into various layers, or tranches, each of which has a different level of credit quality, carries a different amount of risk, and offers a different return for investors.
While conduit loan issuances have risen steeply in the last few years, the amount of lenders has actually fallen slightly— and experts believe that’s a direct result of a new federal risk retention rule that took effect in Dec. 2016. Before the market crash of 2008, the CMBS market was incredibly hot, and lenders were quite liberal with who they provided loans to— especially because they knew they could transfer 100% of the risk to CMBS bondholders.
If you’re considering taking out a CMBS loan for a commercial property, your lender will typically require you to form a special purpose entity, or SPE, that will own the property and will act as the legal borrowing entity. Specifically, the borrower must form a single-purpose, bankruptcy-remote SPE, a special purpose entity that is specifically designed to hold one asset and to prevent that asset from being involved in external bankruptcy proceedings.