Jamie Woodwell, MBA's Senior Director, Commercial/multifamily Research

By Wisniowski, Charles | Mortgage Banking, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Jamie Woodwell, MBA's Senior Director, Commercial/multifamily Research


Wisniowski, Charles, Mortgage Banking


Anyone who has been a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) for very long knows Jamie Woodwell as MBA's resident "go-to" expect on all things on all things related to commercial/multifamily research.

As senior director of commercial/multifamily research, Woodwell is the leader of MBA's research initiatives on commercial and multifamily finance, responsible for providing economic and policy analysis, legislative and regulatory proposals, and commentary on industry trends.

Woodwell oversees surveys on commercial/multifamily production and servicing, and produces regular and topical reports. He also serves as the staff representative for the Commercial/Multifamily Research Committee and was a staff representative for the Council to Shape Change.

Previously, he was manager of data initiatives for the multifamily group at Fannie Mae, where he was responsible for developing multifamily data standards and for projects consolidating data from various business lines.

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Woodwell also has served as the senior director of business development at CapitalThinking, New York; director of market research at the WMF Group, Vienna, Virginia; and research manager at the National League of Cities, Washington, D.C.

Woodwell received his bachelor's degree from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and his master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Pittsburgh.

Following the release of MBA's overall economic and residential market forecast at its Annual Convention & Expo in San Francisco in October, (see Briefing Book article in this issue), Mortgage Banking asked Woodwell to elaborate on MBA's outlook for the commercial/multifamily sector in 2009.

Q: MBA has released its official 2009 outlook for the overall economy, which cites evidence of a recession currently under way. Can you elaborate by talking about the outlook for the commercial real estate market in 2009?

A: The commercial market in a lot of ways is going to be following the economy here. As the weakness has filtered through the economy, it then is filtering through to commercial real estate.

When you look at things like job losses, the early job losses we saw in this economic slowdown tended to be related to construction and manufacturing--but then they bled into business services and other sectors that demand office space. As that market has slowed down, that's gone directly to the leasing market and really slowed down some of the takeup in leases on commercial/multifamily properties.

Likewise, as the consumer really pulled back in the third quarter, that has had a direct impact on retail properties. To the degree that we see--as we usually do in an economic slowdown--household contraction or slowdown in household growth, that can also have an impact on demand for multifamily.

So we're really seeing that the slowdown in the economy is beginning to have an impact on some of the real estate fundamentals.

Q: What types of properties--multifamily, office, industrial, retail or hotels--do you see enjoying the greatest demand for mortgage financing in 2009? Where do you see the least demand for financing?

A: In terms of financing, you've got the supply of capital and the demand for capital. Right now on the supply side, we're seeing the credit crunch having an impact on the supply side, we're seeing the credit crunch having an impact on the supply of capital for commercial/multifamily.

The underlying fundamentals of loan performance remain extremely strong for commercial and multifamily loans, but between the credit crunch and its impact on the CMBS [commercial mortgage-backed securities] market; some of the impacts we've seen with banks and their need to preserve capital; some of the impacts on life insurance companies and some of the other key sources of commercial/multifamily mortgages; that has put a real damper on the supply of capital. …

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