Potential CRE Losses Cited as Major Economic Concern in Fed’s Financial Stability Report

Elevated commercial real estate valuations are increasingly viewed as a near-term risk that could stress the U.S. financial system, according to the Federal Reserve’s October 2023 Financial Stability Report. The central bank’s semiannual report also cited inflationary pressures, interest rate increases, and global economic volatility as vulnerabilities—even though survey data was collected before the recent escalation of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. (Fed’s Financial Stability Report, Oct. 2023)

CRE Risk Emphasized

  • Seventy-two percent of all participants in the Fed’s survey cited the potential for large losses on commercial real estate and residential real estate—along with persistent inflation and monetary tightening­—as major risks.
  • The CRE asset valuation problem noted in the Fed Report is influenced by an ongoing lack of price discovery, which creates significant refinancing challenges. GlobeSt reported Oct 24 on the report, noting that “With transactions down and many sellers holding off, waiting for improved pricing while a lot of buyers look for bargains in distress, it’s hard to tell how much properties should be worth.”

WorkPlace Return Pressure

  • The Fed report warns, “If the economy were to slow unexpectedly … investor risk appetite and asset prices might decline, and valuations in the office building sector appear particularly vulnerable given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding post-pandemic norms regarding return to work. A correction in office property valuations accompanied by even a mild recession could result in significant losses for a range of financial institutions with sizable exposures, including some regional and community banks and insurance companies.”

Additional risks that continued to feature prominently in the Fed survey were associated with the reemergence of banking-sector stress, market liquidity strains, and volatility.

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Commercial Real Estate Executives Optimistic Despite Challenging Market Conditions

August 16, 2023 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Industry leaders remain optimistic about future market conditions while acknowledging uncertainty due to interest rate increases, maturing office loans, financing costs, prolonged remote work policies, and labor productivity, according to The Real Estate Roundtable’s Q3 2023 Sentiment Index.

Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, “Many maturing loans were financed when base rates were near zero and now need to be refinanced in a challenging environment where rates are much higher, values are lower, and markets are less liquid. Higher rates are also contributing to cyclical pressure on valuations. On top of that, remote work has devastated America’s downtowns and stalled office demand.”

DeBoer added, “The economy has undergone significant transformations due to the pandemic. The realities and challenges we face today requires us to rethink how businesses and people use offices, retail, housing, medical care, and more. Future buildings must accommodate the changes to be successful. The Roundtable will continue to advocate and support measures that boost the availability of credit and enhance the formation of capital in the commercial real estate industry, particularly during these times of market uncertainty.”

The Roundtable’s Economic Sentiment Index—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 Current and Future Economic Sentiment Indices.­­­­ Any score over 50 is viewed as positive. ­­­­

The Q3 Sentiment Index topline findings include:

All indices reported increases: The Q3 2023 Real Estate Roundtable Sentiment Index registered an overall score of 46, an increase of five points from the previous quarter. The Current Index registered 33, a six-point increase from Q2 2023, and the Future Index posted a score of 59 points, an increase of four points from the previous quarter.

Disparities between asset classes persist in these challenging market conditions. Hotel and retail markets are largely performing well. Niche asset classes continue to generate interest. On the other hand, office is performing poorly, and rental growth in multifamily and industrial are starting to abate.

Perceptions of declining asset values continue to dominate, with 95% of survey participants reporting that asset values are lower as compared to last year. While Class A properties across all asset classes are trading at competitive prices, managers are still in a “wait and see” mindset for other assets, resulting in lower transaction volumes and an inability to complete accurate valuations.

The availability of capital —both debt and equity—continues to be a pressing topic; 85% and 69% of survey participants, respectively, believe that today’s conditions are more difficult than a year ago. Although managers face a difficult capital raising environment, only 24% and 9% of participants believe debt and equity availability respectively will be worse a year from now as the industry works to creatively solve financing issues.

Data for the Q3 survey was gathered by Chicago-based Ferguson Partners on The Roundtable’s behalf in July. See the full Q3 report.

The Real Estate Roundtable brings together leaders of the nation’s top publicly-held and privately-owned real estate ownership, development, lending and management firms with the leaders of major national real estate trade associations to jointly address key national policy issues relating to real estate and the overall economy.

Public Data in Roundtable’s “Commercial Real Estate By The Numbers: 2023” Shows CRE as Driving Economic Force

RER report - Commercial Real Estate By The Numbers: 2023

A new Real Estate Roundtable report—Commercial Real Estate By The Numbers: 2023— illustrates CRE’s significant contributions to the economy, statistics on climate and the industry, and the important role of tax policy in CRE investment. (18-page report

Statistical CRE Reference 

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, “Our compilation of publicly available data shows the vital role commercial real estate plays as a driving force in the American economy. Whether it is real estate’s positive contributions to GDP, the workforce, local tax bases, or Americans’ retirement savings, this report serves as a valuable resource in understanding the important role of CRE in our society.”
  • DeBoer added, “Our report also presents data on CRE’s climate footprint, information on the economic impact of real estate tax proposals, facts on the affordable housing shortage, and statistics on the physical footprint of U.S. commercial real estate. We intend for this reference to be a ‘living document’ that can be updated when new government and private sector statistics become available.” 

Public Data 

GHG Emissions CRE graphic

  • The report’s findings, footnoted throughout the publication, include:
  • The total value of America’s commercial real estate is estimated between $18- $22 trillion.  The value of America’s commercial real estate is nearly 39%-47% of the market capitalization of all U.S. publicly traded companies. The U.S. multifamily housing sector alone is worth $3.8 trillion—worth more than the value of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon combined.
  • The combined economic contributions of new commercial building development and the operations of existing commercial buildings contributed an estimated $2.3T to GDP in 2022.
  • If U.S. commercial real estate was a country it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world as measured by GDP.
  • The commercial real estate industry supports 15.1 million jobs in the U.S.
  • CRE pays $559B in property taxes to local governments annually—comprising 72% of all local tax revenue. Commercial real estate owners pay property taxes that are 1.7X more, on average, than the tax rates paid by homeowners.
  • Pension funds, educational endowments, and charitable foundations have invested $900B in real estate. 87% and 73% of public and private sector pension funds, respectively, contain real estate investments.

  • The commercial and residential sectors represent 13% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This figure does not include “Scope 3” supply chain emissions beyond the direct control of CRE owners and developers—such as from tenant operations in leased spaces, and carbon embodied in the manufacturing process of cement, steel and other construction materials. (See March 17 Roundtable Weekly, “Reports Confirm Challenges in Scope 3 Reporting”) 

Download the 18-page pdf of The Roundtable’s Commercial Real Estate By The Numbers: 2023

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Small-Business Owners Descend on Capitol Hill to Urge SBA Reauthorization, CRE Leaders Address Market Conditions

Goldman Sachs 10k Businesses

Over 2,500 small-business owners gathered on Capitol Hill this week to meet with more than 400 lawmakers and federal officials to urge reauthorization of the Small Business Administration (SB) for the first time in over 20 years. Small businesses throughout the nation are facing inflationary pressures, supply chain shortages, labor challenges, limited access to capital and a looming possibility of recession. (The Hill, July 20) 

10,000 Small Businesses 

  • The business owners urged lawmakers to modernize the SBA, enact tax credits and provide incentives to help small businesses retain workers and access capital.
  • Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) commented on Tuesday during the summit that the SBA should be simplified and supported reauthorization. (The Hill, July 20)
  • Joe Wall, director of Goldman Sachs’s small-business program, said, “Our goal this week is to generate a lot of momentum so that heading into next year it’s a real priority.” (The Hill, July 20)

Owner Challenges

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses survey

  • A recent survey of the program’s participants shows 93 percent of small-business owners are worried about the US economy experiencing a recession in the next 12 months. Nearly all respondents (97 percent) also say inflationary pressures have increased or remained the same compared with three months ago. Additionally, 88 percent of respondents say it is important for Congress to prioritize the Small Business Administration (SBA), which has not happened in 20 years. (Survey news release, July 13) 
  • Alumni of the 10,000 Small Businesses program collectively represent over $17.3 billion in revenues and employ 245,000 people. 

Industry Views

Marty Burger, far right, interviewed on CNBC's Squawk on the Street

Dr. Linneman commented that inflation is transitory with supply lagging demand due to 23% of the workforce collecting unemployment insurance. He also offers his views on national debt concerns, the Fed and interest rates, and return-to-the-office concerns. (Watch “The Best Hour in CRE” with Economist Peter Linneman, July 21)

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Roundtable Members and Business Leaders Urge NYC Mayor to Address Deteriorating Quality-of-Life Conditions as Part of Economic Recovery and Reopening

Scott Rechler, Chairman & CEO, RXR Realty LLC

More than 160 business leaders – including 16 Real Estate Roundtable members – yesterday sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to address crime and deteriorating quality-of-life issues as part of the city’s efforts to ease pandemic restrictions, encourage economic recovery and reopen businesses.  (New York Times and Forbes, Sept. 10)

  • The letter states, “We need to send a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment.”  It adds that what must be confronted by city management is a “widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods.”   (Partnership for New York City letter, Sept. 10)
  • The letter explains that if steps are not taken quickly to address security and other livability conditions, then people will be slow to return to the city and a establish a degree of normalcy.
  • Mayor de Blasio responded on twitter yesterday, stating, “To restore city services and save jobs, we need long term borrowing and a federal stimulus — we need these leaders to join the fight to move the City forward.”
  • One of the signatories of the letter, Roundtable Member Scott Rechler (Chairman & CEO, RXR Realty LLC and Trustee of the 9/11 Memorial Museum) appeared on CNBC’s Squawkbox this morning to discuss the business leaders’ concerns about the city’s economic recovery and reopening.  (Rechler in photo above)
  • “We don’t have a plan to build a brighter, better future for our city like we did post 9-11 and its eerily scary.  While I know we have a crisis and its going to need support from the federal government, that’s not the only solution. We need to manage our city better,” Rechler stated during the Squawkbox interview.

  • An op-ed in the New York Daily News today by Rechler also encourages individuals “to safely fill our city streets, our parks, our stores, our restaurants, and our business districts.”  Rechler calls for a safe return, especially by those “… who stayed home or left the city to protect themselves and their loved ones by slowing the spread of the coronavirus.”
  • New York City’s coronavirus infection rate has been reduced to a low level in recent months after a phased reopening of its economy started in June.  The infection rate in the city has been below 1% for more than one month, due to strict emergency regulations.  (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 11 and New York Gov. Cuomo’s website, Sept. 9)

Rechler’s op-ed adds, “Every lawyer, software engineer and banker working in New York’s office buildings supports five additional service jobs in retail, restaurants and small businesses, but this partnership, hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods, falls apart if we all stay home.”

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CRE Execs Report Solid Q4 Market Fundamentals Ease Concerns Over Economic Uncertainty and Geopolitics

Jeffrey DeBoer, President and CEO, The Real Estate Roundtable

Commercial real estate executives report solid fundamentals are countering concerns about economic uncertainty and geopolitics, maintaining an optimistic outlook for market conditions in 2020, according to The Real Estate Roundtable’s 2019 Q4 Economic Sentiment Index released today. 

  • The Q4 Sentiment Index dropped one point from the previous quarter to register a score of 49, which shows a positive view regarding the U.S. economy and real estate market conditions. The Overall Economic Sentiment Index is scored on a scale of 1 to 100 by averaging Current and Future Indices and a score of approximately 50 is viewed as positive.
  • For Q4, the Current-Conditions Index of 53 remains the same as the previous quarter. The Q4 Future-Conditions Index of 45 decreased three points from Q3.  The Overall Sentiment Index has registered between 49 and 77 every quarter since Q3 2009 – except for Q1 2019 (45 score) and Q4 2016 (48 score).
  • “Our Q4 Sentiment Index shows that macro real estate markets remain fundamentally sound and reasonably leveraged, with balanced supply and demand,” said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer (above).  “The markets continue to benefit from business and consumer spending, encouraged by low unemployment, rising wages and low energy prices.”

The report’s Topline Findings include:

  • The Real Estate Roundtable Q4 2019 Economic Sentiment Index registered a score of 49 – a one-point decrease from the previous quarter. Survey participants remain confident in stable market fundamentals, but are concerned about recession talk, troubled international markets and politics.  
  • Sixty-two percent of Q4 survey respondents believe markets conditions will be about the same or better in 2020.  Approximately 82% of respondents see today’s market as about the same or better compared to the same time last year. 
  • More than 65% of respondents anticipate asset values to maintain their current level or be somewhat higher going into 2020.  Additionally, half also suggested asset values increased over the past year.  Respondents consistently suggested the number of buyers for assets was decreasing, a factor which is creating challenging selling and buying circumstances. 
  • Most respondents feel debt and equity capital are readily available for quality investments.  The availability of capital and refinancing opportunities are offsetting a decline in buyers/investors in some markets.

DeBoer added, “Real estate leaders cautiously await the outcome of several unpredictable influences on the global and domestic economies.  Despite the uncertainty, U.S. real estate markets have shown consistent stability, which positions them well to withstand potential economic gyrations in the future.”  He also said, “Washington policymakers need to keep their focus on policies that encourage long-term job creation and support economic growth in local communities.”

Data for the Q4 survey was gathered in October by Chicago-based FPL Associates on The Roundtable’s behalf.  For the full survey report, visit www.rer.org/q4-2019-sentiment-index-report

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