Commercial and multifamily mortgage originations totaled $20.9 billion in the first quarter, up 2.8% from the volume recorded a year earlier, according to a quarterly survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association.The total fell $17 billion short of the commercial/MF originations reported for the fourth quarter, but the MBA said this reflects "the industry's usual push to finalize deals" before the end of the year. "The first-quarter origination figures show the continued impact of a steady supply of capital -- and correspondingly low interest rates -- to the commercial and multifamily mortgage markets," said MBA chief economist Doug Duncan. Though rising interest rates and high vacancy rates in some sectors would normally presage a slowdown in originations, the current economic expansion is likely to cause originations to "remain relatively stable," he said. The MBA reported that investment by commercial mortgage-backed security conduits represented $7.1 billion of loan originations in the first quarter, followed by life insurance companies, $3.9 billion; commercial banks, $3.7 billion; originations for other investors, $2.6 billion; and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $2.5 billion. The group can be found online at http://www.mortgagebankers.org.

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