Insurer MetLife closed on $550 million in commercial loans backed by two major office buildings this week. The insurer, which provides loans for office, multifamily, industrial and retail properties, closed on a $300 million loan for the Bank of America Center in San Francisco and a $250 million loan for the Washington Square building in Washington, D.C. MetLife currently has a commercial mortgage portfolio of $40 billion. The recent transaction is in line with a report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, which found life insurance companies upped their stake in commercial mortgage debt, boosting their total investments by $4 billion, or 1.5%, in the second quarter. Life insurance companies are investing in both whole mortgages, where they own the note, commercial mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and other asset backed securities. “In 2011, we’ve been very active in originating loans on high quality assets in top-tier markets,” said Robert Merck, senior managing director and head of real estate investments for MetLife. “Specifically, we have originated over $8 billion in commercial mortgages to date and continue to look for attractive investment opportunities.” The loans are for Bank of America Center, which is made up of three office buildings. Vornado Realty Trust also took out a 10-year, $600 million loan on the property, with MetLife and Pacific Life providing the financing. Meanwhile, Washington Square in the nation’s capitol is a 12-story, Class A office building located in the heart of the Central Business District. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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