Despite slipping from the fourth quarter of 2006, commercial and multifamily mortgage bankers’ loan originations in the first quarter were up 37 percent from a year ago, according to a survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MBA’s quarterly survey found an increase in loan originations across all property types and most investor groups, “led by increases in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) conduit loans and loans financing office properties,” said Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s senior director of commercial/multifamily research, in a statement.

“The strong first quarter included heavy volume driven by real estate investment trusts (REIT) privatizations and continues a trend of first-quarter-over-first-quarter increases going back to the beginning of MBA’s survey, which was first released in 2001,” Woodwell said.

The increase in first-quarter commercial/multifamily lending activity from a year ago was driven by a 64 percent jump in loans for health care properties, a 62 percent surge in loans for office properties, a 37 percent rise in loans for hotel properties, a 26 percent gain in loans for multifamily, a 25 percent increase in loans for retail properties, and a 14 percent increase in loans for industrial properties.

Among investor types, conduits for CMBS, government-sponsored enterprises (or GSEs — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and life insurance companies saw increases when compared to the same quarter last year, while originations for commercial banks decreased compared to the first quarter of 2006.

In the first quarter, mortgage bankers’ originations were 15 percent lower than originations in the fourth quarter of 2006, reflecting the industry’s usual push to finalize deals before the end of the year, and the traditional and subsequent drop-offs in first-quarter numbers, which this year show decreases in all property types except hotel.

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