What Effect Has Work-From-Home Had?
The work-from-home revolution has brought about significant changes to the business world, but not all of them have been positive. One major issue has been the underutilization of offices in major cities around the world. As more companies allow their employees to work remotely, investors and regulators are now focusing on the declining commercial real estate market in the United States. This downturn could add to the already-existing pain for banks and raise concerns about the damaging ripple effect of a commercial real estate market crash.
The Potential for a Banking Crisis
The decline of the commercial real estate market is especially troubling for banks, who are already grappling with turmoil triggered by rapidly rising interest rates. This comes at a time when the value of buildings such as offices is plummeting, which could make matters worse. Investors are worried about contagion, and many believe that the current situation could spiral out of control, creating a recession in the United States.
Warnings from Central Banks
The European Central Bank and Bank of England have also recently warned of risks tied to commercial real estate as the outlook for prices deteriorates. While the United States seems most vulnerable to a commercial real estate market crash, other countries could also be affected.
The Impact on Different Sectors of Commercial Real Estate
Commercial real estate is a vast sector that encompasses offices, apartment complexes, warehouses, and malls, and it has been under substantial pressure in recent months. According to data provider Green Street, prices in the United States were down 15% in March from their recent peak. This has been painful for many banks since purchases of commercial buildings are typically financed with large loans.
Office Properties and Their Rents
Office properties have been hit the hardest, as hybrid work remains popular, affecting the rents many building owners can charge. The average occupancy of offices in the United States is still less than half the levels in March 2020, according to data from security provider Kastle. This is a concern for many experts, who believe that these factors will lead to a significant decline in valuations.
Predicted Decline in Commercial Property Valuations
The economy’s slowdown could exacerbate the problem. Experts predict that US commercial property valuations could fall roughly 20% to 25% this year, while for offices, the declines could be even steeper, topping 30%. This could lead to more commercial real estate mortgages in arrears and more high-profile defaults.
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The Impact on Banks
This is a significant problem for banks, given their extensive lending to the sector. Goldman Sachs estimates that 55% of US office loans sit on bank balance sheets. Regional and community banks are already under pressure after the recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March, and they account for 23% of the total. Signature Bank had the tenth biggest portfolio of commercial real estate loans in the United States at the start of the year, according to Trepp.
Commercial Real Estate Loans Coming Due
The rise in commercial property prices over the past decade has provided developers and their bankers with a measure of protection. However, as the market continues to decline, banks could face greater problems in the coming months. Approximately $270 billion in commercial real estate loans held by banks will come due in 2023, and roughly $80 billion, nearly a third, are on office properties.
Decline in Commercial Property Prices Hurts Banks
The work-from-home era has had a significant impact on the commercial real estate market in the United States, and experts are concerned about the potential for a banking crisis. The decline in commercial property prices has been painful for banks, who are already grappling with turmoil triggered by rapidly rising interest rates. Office properties have been hit the hardest, and the economy’s slowdown could exacerbate the problem. Banks could face even greater issues in the coming months, as more commercial real estate loans come due and the market continues to decline. While the United States seems most vulnerable to a commercial real estate market crash, other countries could also be affected.
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E-commerce driving demand for warehouse space amidst pandemic
It is worth noting that not all sectors of commercial real estate have been impacted equally. The pandemic has led to increased demand for warehouse space due to the surge in e-commerce, while the multifamily sector has remained relatively stable. However, experts predict that these sectors will also be affected in the long term if remote work becomes a permanent trend.
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Importance of Monitoring the Ongoing Impact of Remote Work on Commercial Real Estate and Economy
Overall, the impact of work-from-home on the commercial real estate market is significant and ongoing. Investors and regulators will need to closely monitor the situation to prevent a potential banking crisis and mitigate the economic fallout.
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