The default rate for commercial property mortgages held by US banks more than doubled in the fourth quarter and may reach a peak of 5.4% at the end of next year, according to Real Capital Analytics.

The default rate for loans on office, retail, hotel and industrial properties surged to 3.8% from 1.6% a year earlier, the New York-based real estate research firm said yesterday in a report. The default rate for loans on apartment buildings climbed to 4.4% from 1.8%.

“The level of distress continues to rise irrespective of improving economic trends,” Sam Chandan, Real Capital’s global chief economist, said in a telephone interview.