Mall Owners Let Properties Go Into Foreclosure, Walk Away

Image courtesy of J.G. Park

It’s not hard to believe that the owners of malls might be looking to get out of the mall business. Developing shopping centers may have looked like a solid investment for most of the last 60 years or so, but now owners are calculating that it’s better to let them go into foreclosure than to try keeping them open.

“There have been some draconian losses for the enclosed mall business,” the managing principal of a property company told The Wall Street Journal. He happens to have bought five bank-owned malls in foreclosure sales in the last year.

If you’re starting to think that this sounds a lot like the foreclosure crisis in family homes of almost a decade ago, you’re not wrong: mall landlords are doing the equivalent of mailing in their house keys and walking away from their homes.

Even Simon Property Group, a major national mall operator and innovator in the field of staying open on Thanksgiving Day, let a loan go into default at the beginning of 2016, letting the mall in Worcester, MA, that secured it go into foreclosure.

While the economy is doing better on the whole, default rates for malls are going up, reflecting the bigger reality that consumers are shifting more of our shopping online, and will need something other than retail to persuade them to visit a mall. Maybe try restaurants, medical offices, or megachurches.