MetLife Inc. (MET) originated more than $8 billion in commercial mortgage loans through its real estate investments department last year, as the company’s $38 billion commercial portfolio “continued to perform well.” The company reported a number of completed real estate transactions with loans exceeding $175 million. MetLife originated a $207 million first mortgage for a 32-story office building as well as a $180 million first mortgage at a five-year adjustable-rate for a 44-story office building, both in midtown Manhattan. In Chicago, the firm funded a $350 million five-year ARM for a 60-story, 1.3 million square foot office building located on the north bank of the Chicago River. Heritage Plaza in Houston’s central business district received a $200 million first mortgage at a 12-year fixed interest rate. The office building has 1.09 million square feet and 53 stories. In San Diego, MetLife jointly funded a $475 million mortgage for an open-air mall. The company contributed $275 million to the deal, which has a 10-year fixed-rate mortgage. “We remain optimistic with respect to the market fundamentals going into 2011 and continue to see good opportunities for investment,” said Robert Merck, senior managing director and head of real estate investments for MetLife. “We expect another strong year in 2011 for originating commercial mortgage loans.” On Thursday, Moody’s Investor Service gave its 2011 outlook for commercial mortgage-backed securities, anticipating a stronger year than the last three. Hotel and multifamily properties are expected to continue a healthy recovery while other sectors will lag a bit. Regardless all outlooks remain positive. “Office, retail and industrial market fundamentals will start to form a bottom in 2011, with a strong rebound not expected until 2012,” Moody’s said. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR. Disclosure: The author holds no relevant investments.

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