Policy Issues

Commercial Real Estate by the Numbers

  • CRE Market Value and Leverage

    Total value of America’s commercial real estate (at end of 2021)1

    To put that into perspective, the value of commercial real estate is roughly 40% of the market capitalization of all U.S. publicly traded companies.2

    Roughly two-thirds of commercial real estate debt relates to non-residential property with the remainder financing multifamily residential rental property (five or more units).


    1. Nareit, Estimating the Size of the Commercial Real Estate Market in the U.S., (2021)
    2. The total market capitalization of U.S.-based public companies traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ, and OTC markets was $53.3 trillion at the end of 2021. Siblis Research Limited (2022), available here. https://siblisresearch.com/data/us-stock-marketvalue/#:~:text=The%20total%20market%20 capitalization%20of,about%20OTC%20markets%20from%20here.)

  • Real Estate, Jobs, and the Workforce

    U.S. jobs supported by real estate

    These jobs include construction, planning, architecture, building maintenance, hotel operations, management, leasing, brokerage, cleaning, security, and other activities. 

    In addition, real estate employs millions more indirectly in fields such as mortgage lending, accounting, legal services, investment advising, and environmental consulting.

  • Real Estate's Contribution to the Tax Base

    Property taxes paid to local governments3

    72% of local tax revenue derived from property taxes 4

    Local property taxes provide more than a third of all money used to finance public education.5


    State and local property taxes paid by businesses6

    An average commercial property pays 1.7x+ more in taxes compared to taxes associated with a home.7

    A typical large U.S. city imposes an average annual tax of 1.995% on the value of commercial properties (land and building, combined).8

    3. State and Local Expenditures, Urban Institute, State and Local Expenditures (2019 data) https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/ cross-center-initiatives/state-and-local-finance initiative/projects/state-and-local-backgrounders/property-taxes#revenue
    4. Tax Foundation, To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes? (2021) https://taxfoundation.org/state-property-taxreliance-2020/#:~:text=In%20fiscal%20year%202017%2%20the,other%20source%20of%20tax%20revenue.
    5. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, The Future of U.S. Public School Revenue from the Property Tax (July 2017).
    6. Ernst & Young LLP, Total State and Local Business Taxes: State-by-State Estimates for FY20 at p. 11(Oct. 2021)
    7. Tax Foundation, State and Local Property Taxes Target Commercial and Industrial Property (Nov. 21, 2012).
    8. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy & Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence, 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study at pg. 3 (June 2021).


  • Real Estate’s Contribution to Americans’ Retirement Savings

    Amount invested by pension funds, educational endowments, and charitable foundations in real estate.9

    Real estate investments can be found in 87% of all public and 73% of all private-sector pension funds.10

    Amount of pension investments managed by America’s building trades unions.11

    $16 billion: Funding in more than 500 real estate projects provided by the Union Labor Life Insurance Company, organized labor’s group-insurance provider, since its inception in 1977.12

    9. Meredith Despins, The Role of Real Estate in Pension Funds, Nareit Developments (November 2021).
    10. Preqin, Pension Funds Investing in Real Estate, Real Estate Spotlight (Sept. 2016).
    11. North American Building Trades Unions, NABTU Real Estate Manager Report Card (Jan. 2020).
    12. Ullico Bulletin, J for Jobs Adds Projects in Chicago and New Jersey (2018).

  • Real Estate's Contribution to GDP

    Aggregate contribution of CRE (office, retail, industrial warehouse, apartments, hotels) to overall GDP13

    Operations of existing retail, office, and industrial/warehouse buildings, combined with new commercial construction, contributed an estimated $1.2 trillion to GDP and $418.7 billion in personal earnings in 2021. 14

    The multifamily industry, which provides shelter to 44 million residential renters, 15 contributed an additional $400 billion to GDP through apartment construction, improvements, and operational expenditures. 16

    The operation of America's hotels, along with hotel construction and capital investment, contribute $660 billion to U.S. GDP. 17

    These numbers do not include the enormous indirect benefits that flow from real estate activity such as the revenue generated from retail tenants and further induced guests, employees, and suppliers in the case of hotels. 

    13. Stephen Fuller, Ph.D., Economic Impacts of Commercial Real Estate (NAIOP Research Foundation 2022)
    14. Stephen Fuller, Ph.D., Economic Impacts of Commercial Real Estate (NAIOP Research Foundation 2020).
    15. Renter statistic through 2021, from Harvard University, Joint Center for Housing Studies, State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 at p.26.
    16. Hoyt Advisory Services, The Contribution of Multifamily Housing to the U.S. Economy (National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council, 2019).
    17. AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry, 2021 https://www.ahla.com/sites/default/files/2021_state_of_the_industry_0.pdf.

  • Physical Characteristics of U.S. Commercial Real Estate Infrastructure

    • 5.9 million: Number of nonresidential buildings in the U.S. Includes:

    » 1 million warehouse and storage buildings

    » 972,000 office buildings

    » 518,000 retail buildings (malls plus non-malls)

    » 214,000 hotels and commercial lodging buildings

    » 137,000 health care buildings (inpatient plus outpatient)

    • 97 billion ft2: Total U.S. commercial floorspace
    • 36 years old: Median age of U.S. commercial buildings

    » 25% have been built since 2000

    » 54% were built between 1960 and 1999

    » 21% were built before 1960

    » More than 75% of U.S. buildings were built before 2004, the year that the first “modern” commercial building energy standard was published (ASHRAE 90.1 2004).23

    • Buildings by size:

    » Over 500K ft2: 9,000 buildings

    » 201K ft2 to 500K ft2: 40,000 buildings

    » 100.1K ft2 to 200K ft2: 93,000 buildings

    » 100K ft2 or smaller: Over 97% of the U.S. commercial building stock

    • Growth in building size continues to outpace increases in the absolute number of U.S. buildings.

    » Since 2012, the number of buildings has grown by 6% and floorspace by 11%

    » Number of commercial buildings has increased 55% from 1979-2018 (3.8 million buildings to 5.9 million buildings)

    » Amount of commercial floorspace has increased 90% from 1979-2018 (51 billion ft2 to 97 billion ft2

    » Buildings larger than 100,000 ft2 account for less than 3% of commercial buildings, but 34% of commercial floorspace

    22. Table 1 and slides from U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (preliminary data released Nov. 18, 2020). Figures do not include multifamily residential.
    23. U.S. Department of Energy, Building Energy Codes – An Introduction (May 2010) at slide 9.

  • U.S. Real Estate and Energy Consumption

    • 28%: Amount of U.S. energy consumption attributable to building owners, tenants, occupants, and guests

    » 16% attributed to the residential sector (11.9 quadrillion Btus)

    » 12% attributable to the commercial sector (9.4 quadrillion Btus)

    • What fuels power U.S. real estate?
    Power SourceCommercialResidential
    Retail Electricity Sales49%41%
    Natural Gas39%44%
    Renewable Energy3%7%
    • Renewable energy mix for the commercial and residential sectors:25

    » 61%: biomass (wood/waste [59%] plus biofuels [2%])

    » 33%: solar

    » 6%: geothermal

    » <1%: wind

    » <1%: hydropower

    24. U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2019. See also explanation on EIA 2018 updated chart.
    25. U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Primary Renewable Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2019


  • Commercial Real Estate and Energy Efficiency

    • $150 billion: Cumulative energy cost savings by U.S. ENERGY STAR certified buildings (since program inception in 1992)

    » $10 billion: Energy cost savings in 2016 alone

    • 36,000: Number of ENERGY STAR certified buildings

    » 5,700 buildings: Number of ENERGY STAR certified buildings in 2019 alone

    • 260,000: Number of buildings that use EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark, measure and track energy use, water use, and waste and materials

    » 24 billion ft2: Amount of commercial floorspace covered by Portfolio Manager (about 25% of all U.S. commercial floorspace)

    26. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR Facts and Stats

CRE by the Numbers (download)

Staff Contact
DD-Oct2019 - contact Duane J. Desiderio 
 Senior Vice President & Counsel
CER - Oct2019 - contact Clifton (Chip) E. Rodgers, Jr. 
 Senior Vice President
RM-Oct2019 - contact Ryan P. McCormick
 Senior Vice President & Counsel