In two research reports released in February, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) paints a sobering picture of the recent past and near future.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, multifamily loans saw a 62 percent decrease compared with the fourth quarter of 2007, to a level not seen since early 2004. In fact, lending volumes were down 33 percent when compared with the third quarter of 2008.

Among investor types, commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) led the way, down 98 percent from the last quarter of 2007. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac saw a 15 percent decrease in their dollar volumes in the fourth quarter when compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, and a 21 percent drop in loan volume compared with the third quarter of 2008.

The MBA also released its Survey of Loan Maturity Volumes, offering a glimpse of the coming wave of nonbank loans reaching maturity in the next year. According to the report, $171 billion of commercial/multifamily loans will mature in 2009, and another $120 billion will mature in 2010.

Of the total nonbank loans coming due in 2009, 52.8 percent are in CMBS, CDOs, or other asset-backed securities, compared with just 3.8 percent held or guaranteed by the agencies.

Many in the multifamily industry fear that this coming wave of loans in need of refinancing will have a difficult time finding liquidity, forcing some owners to sell, adding to a growing volume of distressed assets.