From an analyst at one of the five large U.S. banks still standing, passed to me via Mark Hanson this afternoon: In a foreclosure auction today, the John Hancock Tower – a marquee building in Boston – traded at $660MM to Normandy Real Estate Partners. That same property was appraised for $1.3BN in 2006 and traded for $935MM in 2003. This is VERY negative for commercial real estate. At face, it looks like even top quality assets are down 50% from their peak, but that forgets the value of the financing that Normandy now gets to assume. There will still be a $640.5MM mortgage on the property at a rate of 5.6%. What is the value of being able to get a 97% LTV loan at 5.6% these days? Let’s say you can get a 60% LTV mortgage ($400MM) at 8%, and the other $240MM in mezz financing (which has no chance of getting done in this market) could hypothetically get done at 15. That combination produces a weighted average financing cost of almost 11%. A 5.6% mortgage at 11% yield is about a 70 $px, which means the value of assuming the existing financing on the Hancock Tower is close to $190MM. The real clearing level for the top commercial property in Boston was only $470MM – down 65% from 2006 levels and down 50% from 2003 levels. If we assume 2008 NOI numbers are still accurate, this would be a 9.5% cap rate adjusted for the financing. Without adjusting for the value of financing, the purchase price of $660MM looks like a 6.7% cap rate and $383/sqft – rich, relative to 1540 Broadway (NY office vs Boston office) recently clearing at ~$400/sqft. **The main takeaway: property values are down A LOT more than people think, especially when considering the implied value of financing. Caveat Emptor.** On the brightside for holders of GG9, the #1 loan now has a better sponsor with a lighter debt load. Unfortunately, not every CMBS loan had a 50% LTV to 2006/2007 levels like John Hancock Tower…Severities will be much higher for the majority of 75+% LTV CMBS loans.