CREtech Los Angeles

Last week we spread the word and met some new people at #CREtech in Los Angeles. While we are well known in CRE debt circles, we are not yet well known on the equity side of the business — and these events are attended by equity players.

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Not Fade Away

I always pause to remember and honor the victims of 9/11, and I try to reflect and celebrate the spirit of camaraderie and selflessness that grew in the country after the attacks.

I’ll be posting later in the week from Los Angeles, where we’ll be exhibiting at the CREtech conference. But for now, in the spirit of post 9/11 unity, check out what Bob Weir said on Mount Tamalpais this weekend about not letting your love fade away.

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Feds issue risk retention rules

After more than two years of silence, federal regulators have begun issuing the final rules for securitization reform called for under Dodd Frank. This week, they issued the rules on risk retention.

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CREFC cautious about 2012

The big annual CMBS conference was held last week in Washington, DC — and the mood was cautious.

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MISMO Summit and ICSC RECon convention

I’m fresh back from a pair of industry get-togethers. C-MISMO is floundering; retail seems to be recovering.

MISMO Summit

Last week I was in Chicago at the MBA’s annual Commercial Servicing and Technology Conference, where we hosted a MISMO summit in an effort to promote the adoption of industry standards. The meeting was fairly well attended with about 40 people from several of the major servicers, lenders and service providers.

There were no “breakthroughs,” and the whole session seemed like more of an explanation why standards were not being adopted as opposed to a renewed commitment to make standard adoption a priority. More specifically:

1. Participants seemed to understand the value of standards in the abstract, but few had real-life experience with using standards to become more efficient.

2. There seemed to be more value given to the C-MISMO data dictionary than the XML schema itself, especially from the business people in the room.

3. Of the 40 or so attendees in the room, only four companies were current MISMO subscribers. No attendees that were not already MISMO subscribers offered to join MISMO or contribute additional time or funding to the standards effort.

4. The MBA and MERS signaled for the first time that if membership and funding do not improve, it will consider shutting down the C-MISMO effort.

Where do we go from here?

The summit ended with the moderators asking the question of where we go from here. After debate on whether we were really making progress, there seemed to be two choices:

1. Reorient/rebrand MISMO to focus on the common vocabulary (Logical Data Dictionary) and educate/support industry and regulators to help them implement or accept MISMO and de-emphasize XML and technology.

2. Consider putting Commercial MISMO in some type of hibernation status.

The Commercial Governance Committee has been tasked with making a recommendation on next steps. If the recommendation is to move forward, we will have to present a budget and obtain commitments from firms willing to pay subscription rates that equal the costs of running C-MISMO. While we on governance are eternally optimistic and are inclined to push ahead, it is becoming clear that, if we cannot find the financial support from the industry, the MBA is likely to pull the plug on the C-MISMO effort. Stay tuned. …

ICSC RECon convention

This week I was in Vegas for a trade show put on by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). RECon is the biggest annual conference in the real estate industry. ICSC is so big because it attracts retail property owners and all the different groups selling to these companies. Attendance was about 30,000 people with about 1,000 exhibitors including leasing brokers, tenants, lenders and service providers. Seeing the various wings of the Las Vegas Convention Center filled with 1,000 exhibitor booths was impressive.

The mood and general activity was more upbeat than the last few years, but still way off the peak. I had an interesting conversation with a person at the bar at my hotel (stayed at the Cosmopolitan which I recommend) who used to be a mortgage broker but switched to being a solar systems salesperson during the downturn. Instead of selling debt to property owners, he was now selling solar energy systems, and he was exhibiting at the show. An example of the lasting effects the financial crisis has had on individual careers and how the industry has changed. Nonetheless, the mood seemed to be more “normal” than “distressed” and the retail recovery seemed well on its way.

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Jim Flaherty is CEO of and the creator of the Backshop loan origination system. He is a trained credit professional with experience installing enterprise underwriting systems for commercial real estate lenders, rating agencies and investors.