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Steve Chiotakis: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues meet in Washington today. And one likely topic on the agenda is the commercial real estate market. Because even as home prices stabilize, malls and office buildings around the country are emptying out — and values are plummeting. Here’s Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson.
Jeremy Hobson: Job losses have an indirect effect on residential real estate — as people have a harder time paying their mortgages. But they directly impact commercial real estate — as offices go vacant. Professor Susan Wachter at the Wharton School is keeping a close eye on the flailing commercial real estate market.
SUSAN WACHTER: It is very dependent on jobs and as jobs continue to be lost, the demand for real estate also is declining.
Wachter says rising defaults will hit regional banks the hardest. The Fed has already tried to ease the market by helping investors buy commercial mortgage-backed securities. But that emergency program expires in December. Chip Rodgers with the Real Estate Roundtable is pushing the Fed to extend the program.
CHIP RODGERS: If the commercial real estate sector is not addressed in a positive way, the negative repercussions could undermine a lot of the progress that’s been made by the Federal Reserve in stabilizing the financial system.
Chairman Bernanke recently said the government may have to consider guaranteeing commercial mortgages.
In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.
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