Federal Regulators Signal Significant Changes for Proposed Bank Capital Hikes
Commerce Department Announces Voluntary Industry Pledge to Increase Women in Construction Workforce
CRE Executives Express Tempered Optimism Despite High Interest Rates and Tight Liquidity
Roundtable to House Committee: Balance Housing and Energy Efficiency Priorities
Roundtable Founding Member and TPAC Chairman Frank G. Creamer, Jr. Passes
Roundtable Weekly
May 24, 2024
Federal Regulators Signal Significant Changes for Proposed Bank Capital Hikes
The Federal Reserve in Washington, DC

Proposed regulations that would dramatically hike capital requirements for the nation's largest banks may undergo significant changes, which could include a 50 percent reduction in the current mandated increase, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal on May 19.

Proposed Capital Requirements

  • Top officials from the Fed are working with regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on “negotiating substantive and technical revisions” to the current proposal, known as the “Basel III Endgame.” (WSJ, May 19)
  • The Real Estate Roundtable strongly opposes the current proposal, which would hike capital requirements by approximately 19 percent for banks with at least $100 billion in assets. (Roundtable Weekly, March 29)
  • Barclay estimates the proposal, if approved without changes, would require eight U.S. global systemically important banks to hold approximately $150 billion more in capital. (WSJ, May 23)

Roundtable Response

Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer testifies before House Oversight Subcommittee on April 30, 2024
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer testified this month before a House subcommittee on the health of CRE markets and offered Roundtable policy recommendations, which included rejection of the Basel III Endgame—along with other pro-cyclical regulatory measures that would restrict credit and capital formation. (Roundtable Weekly, May 3 | DeBoer’s oral statement and written testimony)
  • Additionally, a Jan. 12 Roundtable letter and Jan. 16 industry coalition letter urged federal banking regulators to withdraw the proposed rule, emphasizing its potential negative impact on available credit capacity for commercial real estate transactions, market liquidity, and economic growth. (Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 19)

Policymakers Signal Adjustments

Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr
  • The proposal has been met by internal disagreement and concerns among the seven-member Fed Board. (Roundtable Weekly, March 29)
  • Michael Barr, the Fed’s Vice Chair for Supervision, said in a May 20 speech that the central bank is exploring “targeted adjustments” to bank liquidity rules, including Basel III.  In March, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testified before congressional committees that he expects regulators to “make broad and material changes” to the Basel III proposal. (PoliticoPro, May 20 and Roundtable Weekly, March 8)

The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting on June 20-21 in Washington, DC will address Basel III Endgame and other capital and credit issues impacting CRE.

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Commerce Department Announces Voluntary Industry Pledge to Increase Women in Construction Workforce

RER Chairman and Suffolk CEO John Fish, above, convened a meeting this week of leading construction company CEOS to sign on to the “Million Women in Construction Community Pledge,” led by U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo. (UPI, May 21 and ConstructionDive, May 22)

Committed to Workforce Expansion

  • Fish said, “The construction industry continues to face significant labor challenges due to the aging workforce and dwindling number of young people entering the construction field. There is a critical need to attract more talent and diversify our workforce to ensure we have the resources to build our cities and grow our economy.” (Commerce Department news release)
  • He added, “Suffolk is honored and privileged to be one of the first companies to commit to Secretary Raimondo’s inspiring Million Women in Construction Pledge. As an organization that has long been committed to rebuilding the ratio of women in the construction industry, we are proud to play a leadership role in inspiring other organizations to commit to this effort and help position our American workforce for future growth and success.”
  • The Million Women in Construction Community Pledge is a nationwide call to action for the construction industry to commit to bold steps aimed at increasing the number of women in the construction workforce. Secretary Raimondo launched the initiative after participating in The Real Estate Roundtable’s Spring 2023 Meeting. (Roundtable Weekly, April 28, 2023)
  • In addition to Suffolk, other leading construction companies committed to the Pledge include Baker Construction, Gilbane Building Company, McKissack & McKissack, Mortenson, Power Design, and Shawmut Design and Construction.

Call for Greater Industry Participation

Left to Right: RER Chairman John Fish, Commerce Sec. Raimondo, RER President & CEO Jeffrey DeBoer
  • Secretary Raimondo is seeking more industry companies, unions, and training organizations to sign the Pledge. She emphasized the need for the industry to recruit, train, hire, and retain thousands of new and non-traditional workers as the next generation of skilled laborers and leaders—and prepare them to rebuild U.S. infrastructure and supply chains to complement the Federal government’s investment.
  • Secretary Raimondo said, “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is creating a construction boom all over the country, and with that boom comes a huge increase in jobs and opportunities for workers in construction and the trades. But right now, women make up less than 11% of jobs in construction and only 4% in skilled trades.”
  • She added, “Many of these are good-paying, quality jobs you can get without a college degree, and women deserve equal opportunity for these jobs. I’m calling on everyone—contractors, labor unions, training organizations—to join our Community Pledge to commit to solutions and support proven strategies that help overcome barriers faced by women and underserved communities in construction and the trades.”

For questions about the program or to pledge, email WomenInConstruction@doc.gov

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CRE Executives Express Tempered Optimism Despite High Interest Rates and Tight Liquidity

Commercial real estate executives expressed tempered optimism about property markets in The Real Estate Roundtable’s Q2 2024 Sentiment Index as high interest rates and liquidity challenges linger. The Q2 Sentiment Index registered the same overall score of 61 from the previous quarter as uncertainty persists about future asset values and availability of capital.

  • The Roundtable’s Current Sentiment Index registered 55, a 2-point increase over Q1 2024. The Future Index posted a score of 66 points, a decrease of 4 points from the previous quarter. Any score over 50 is viewed as positive. ­­­­The Overall Index this quarter of 61—a measure of senior executives’ confidence and expectations about the commercial real estate market environment—is scored on a scale of 1 to 100 by averaging the scores of the Current and Future Indices.­­­­

The Q2 Sentiment Index topline findings also include:

  • Evolving market trends continue to shape the real estate landscape. A majority (66%) of Q2 survey participants expect general market conditions to show improvement one year from now. Additionally, 45% of respondents said conditions are better now compared to this time last year. Only 11% of Q2 participants expect general market conditions to be somewhat worse in a year, a slight increase from 6% in Q1.

  • Class B office properties are facing ongoing challenges attributed to an ongoing “flight to quality.” Industrial and multifamily sectors show tempered growth, yet their underlying fundamentals remain robust. Retail sectors are healthy, propelled by consumer spending, while interest in data centers continues to ascend.

[The healthy momentum of the retail sector was affirmed by ICSC CEO and President Tom McGee, above left, this week during an interview with DLC Management. He stated that the demand for physical retail is incredibly strong, but the supply of net new construction is constrained because of the cost of capital and construction. “Retailers are just not using stores for conventional shopping purposes but also increasingly using them as fulfillment centers, so the demand for space is quite high.” (DLC Management on X, May 23)]

  • A significant 75% of Q2 survey participants expressed optimism that asset values will be higher (44%) or the same (31%) one year from now, indicating some semblance of expected stability.

  • The real estate capital markets landscape remains challenging. For the current quarter, 65% believe the availability of equity capital will improve in one year, while 64% said the availability of debt capital will improve in one year. The 36% of participants who said the availability of debt capital would be worse in one year is an increase from 24% in Q1 who voiced the same expectation.

  • Regarding sentiment on the availability of equity capital, 65% of survey respondents expect conditions to improve, compared to 26% who stated that the availability of equity capital was better a year ago.

Data for the Q2 survey was gathered by Chicago-based Ferguson Partners on The Roundtable’s behalf in April. See the full Q2 report.

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Roundtable to House Committee: Balance Housing and Energy Efficiency Priorities

The Real Estate Roundtable asked House lawmakers on Wednesday to direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reconsider a recent federal energy codes rule because it does not adequately consider impacts on affordable housing. (Roundtable Statement, May 22 for House Hearing)

HUD’s Energy Codes Rule

  • Last month, HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a joint rule that applies the most recent, stringent—and costly—model energy code standards to new residential construction receiving the agencies’ financial support. (Roundtable Weekly, May 3)
  • The rule would apply to both single- and multifamily homes covered by HUD and USDA programs, including homes backed with federal mortgage insurance. HUD itself estimated the rule would add at least $7,229 to the cost of building a new single-family home. (HUD’s rule | House subcommittee memo)
  • The May 22 House hearing considered how HUD’s rule and other green building policies impact homeownership, price buyers out of the market, and burden renters. The National Association of Home Builders testified at the hearing, and the National Multifamily Housing Council and National Apartment Association submitted a joint statement. (Subcommittee hearing YouTube video)

Roundtable Recommendations

  • The Roundtable’s statement explained that policymakers must prioritize both the climate crisis and our nation’s housing crisis, but that HUD’s federal codes rule is not balanced and should be re-considered.
  • The new nationwide rule imposing the highest energy efficiency standards, currently adopted by only a handful of states, must be assessed in light of the Biden-Harris administration’s goals to address the serious U.S. housing shortage and create two million affordable units. (Biden Administration Affordable Housing Policy Fact Sheet, March 7)
  • RER’s letter also explained how the new federal codes rule adds yet another layer to a stacked mix of stringent government rules and other headwinds that have made single- and multifamily housing construction a “hyper-regulated business.”
  • Reducing buildings’ energy use and climate emissions are critical policies, but the Administration should not pass new regulations that “make the housing crisis worse,” The Roundtable explained. A more balanced re-assessment of HUD’s and USDA’s action is warranted.

This week’s hearing follows House testimony recently delivered by Roundtable President and CEO Jeff DeBoer, who reinforced the messages that the health of commercial and residential real estate markets are intertwined—and excessive regulations that make housing prices and rents unaffordable for working-class families must be avoided. (DeBoer’s April 30 oral statement and written testimony | Roundtable Weekly, April 30)

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Roundtable Founding Member and TPAC Chairman Frank G. Creamer, Jr. Passes
Frank G. Creamer, Jr.

Frank G. Creamer, Jr., a founding member of The Real Estate Roundtable and long-serving chairman of its Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC), passed away on May 17. (Obituary)

Industry Mentor

  • “Frank Creamer offered his deep expertise and knowledge to so many in the industry during his 25 years of involvement with RER,” said Jeffrey DeBoer, Roundtable President and CEO. “In his long-time role as TPAC Chairman, Frank was a tremendous mentor and reliable guide who cared deeply about The Roundtable, its role in the industry, and its members. His dedication was exemplary, and he will be remembered as the consummate gentleman he most certainly was, who always had time for others. We will sorely miss Frank and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”
  • Mr. Creamer held various executive positions during his career in the global commercial real estate lending business, rising to oversee all real estate banking at Citibank. After his tenure at Citibank, he became a principal and owner of his company, FGC Advisors, LLC, a real estate advisory firm.

A memorial service is scheduled for June 5 in Center Moriches, NY followed by a June 6 funeral Mass at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, a donation in his memory can be made to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation. (See obituary for details)