Commercial, apartment lending up, particularly federal activity

The largest portion of multifamily lending activity was accounted for by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2011, as they financed $57.6 billion of activity in the sector.

The three entities set new records for their commercial real estate loan origination volumes, largely due to their heightened multifamily activity, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports. Their level of origination activity was followed by the contributions of life insurance companies and pension funds, which originated $49.3 billion in multifamily and commercial real estate financing.

The organization's data on lending shows commercial and multifamily financing rose by 55 percent last year as more than $184 billion in loans was closed by commercial lenders. Multifamily loans were responsible for $77.4 billion of the commercial real estate financing activity last year, followed by office properties at $34.4 billion, suggesting apartments held substantially higher interest than other options during the year.

"Originations for life companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA were all strong, and banks, commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) issuers and others also saw strong growth," said Jamie Woodwell, MBA vice president of commercial real estate research. "With interest rates still low and stability returning to real estate fundamentals, the rebound is expected to continue in 2012."

The availability of financing and interest among investors reflects the strong expectations for the sector, indicating stakeholders such as apartment owners and rental property management firms are likely to experience a profitable market in the near future.