CIT Group (CIT) reported $131.5 million in the third quarter, or $0.66 per diluted share, after losing more than $534.1 million last year. The commercial real estate lender, which provides financing to small and middle-market companies, said its balance sheets are growing stronger as it capital ratios improve and debt is paid down. In September, CIT paid off $537 million in outstanding second-lien notes. The effort to deleverage and pay down debt arrives after the company  sought bankruptcy restructuring in late 2009, a process that included several private capital infusions. CIT pushed its committed loan volume to $314 million in third quarter, up 74% from $180 million in the previous quarter. Its reserve for credit losses decreased to $397 million from $701.8 million a year ago and up from $328 million in the previous quarter. CIT's Tier 1 capital ratio, a measurement of financial strength, reached 18.7% in the third quarter, more than double the 7.6% a year ago and up from 17.5% in the previous quarter. Write to Jon Prior.