Celebrating 30: The Rise of CMBS

We're celebrating our 30th anniversary by highlighting some of the most significant events in commercial real estate's history. This week: The birth and rise of CMBS. Stay tuned for our weekly posts and follow along with us on social media using the hashtag #CPETurns30.

CPE_30_Logo_skyAs Commercial Property Executive celebrates its 30th anniversary, we’re taking a look back at the most significant events in commercial real estate’s history. Stay tuned for our weekly posts highlighting these critical points, and follow along with us on our site and your favorite social media channels using the hashtag #CPETurns30. 


Ethan Penner, founder and managing partner of MREC Management LLC

Ethan Penner

The Resolution Trust Corp.’s success with securitzation gave insight to a new rising star in the financial markets. Andy Stone, who worked as a mortgage trader under Lewis Ranieri at Salomon Brothers, saw potential in parlaying Ranieri’s success with residential mortgage-backed securities and some securitization of individual CRE loans, leading him to market the expansion of this idea to Daiwa Securities. In 1990, Stone began using the firm’s money to buy up large pools of CRE loans from the RTC and buyers of RTC properties, repackaging them and selling off tranches of the securities. With the transactions proving profitable, the idea caught on in Wall Street and the CMBS market was born. 

As the U.S. economy emerged from the recession in the mid-90s, investors began to buy property again. But they found mortgage capital limited as commercial banks, insurance companies, pension funds and other traditional lenders remained cautious. Ethan Penner saw an opportunity for Wall Street investment banks to fill the void, particularly Norma Securities, which agreed to back his plan in 1993. Penner was able to build the business to $10.8 billion in conduit and large loan deals, first under the Nomura Asset Managment name and then Capital Corp. of America, before an effort to restructure the relationship fell apart in 1998. Penner is credited for his role in expanding the use of CMBS, making it a regular means of financing property purchases and creating large pools of mortgages before securitizing them. Penner went on to found and serve as president of CBRE Capital Partners in 2008, before the firm substantially exited all investments in 2014. He is now the founder & managing partner of Mosaic Real Estate Investors.

For more CRE history, check out last week’s post on the infamous Kelo v. City of London case.

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