Is Commercial Real Estate the Next Shoe to Drop

The average vacancy rate in office space was up 18.6% in Q1 2023. Although the work-from-home trend is improving as companies are mandating workers to return to office, but most spaces are still empty. As the bank earnings are unravelling, bank balance sheet seems to show more and more exposure to commercial real estate.

The sectors that will be most impacted by commercial real estate bust will be banking, insurance companies that have invested or underwritten commercial mortgage loan. SIVB, Signature bank debacle has increased the nervousness among the market participants. A recent Bloomberg report shed light on Fed acknowledging that the lack of oversight staff at Fed NY branch led to the slow response on signature bank. It’s too late on Fed part to take responsibility Although the depositors were made whole Shareholders and bond holders lost big on these banks. This definitely has rattled the capital markets and the markets have not gained their footing so far from this debacle. Another bank that seems to be in the limelight post earning is First Republic Bank. Is First Republic bank next to fold? only time will tell.

How is this all-related let’s try to understand that in these paragraphs. The failure of these banks has exposed the crack in balance sheet of small banks which are carrying longer Yield to Maturity (YTM) bonds. It all started with the era of free money where smaller banks were exempt from stress test and liquidity caps and as they got huge deposit, during the COVID era due to government transfers they ended up investing those at the longer end of the curve less did they know at that point that the free money was fueling inflation and the Fed will raise rate quickly and aggressively.

With Fed raising rates depositors were getting 4-5% on CD’s and treasury bills. As the depositor rushed to withdraw their money in search of better yields these failed banks in an effort to ramp up liquidity were forced to sell many of their longer end YTM bonds at losses.

Commercial Real estate is also struggling with the raising rates. Are these bank failures pointing to something systematic in the system. A recent article in Fortune highlights how commercial real estate lending standards is tightening and the Fed raising rate has not helped the space and many Commercial Real Estate (CRE) operators will struggle to repay their debt or keep up their mortgage payment if the Fed keep the rates up longer. Inflation seems to be deeply ingrained and persistent as such the Fed has no choice but to keep the rates longer.

Let’s look at vacancies, Rising vacancies compounded with increasing rates have left quite a few office REITS scrambling in search of liquidity to service debt payment. The distress in the market will be exposed further once these loans mature.

Morgan Stanley’s wealth management chief investment officer, Lisa Shalett, wrote in a recent report, “More than 50% of the $2.9 trillion in commercial mortgages will need to be renegotiated in the next 24 months . The note can be download here.

A Recent section on Bisnow discussed the need for US Government intervention in Commercial Real. The article went on to say “Without some sort of intervention or assistance from federal regulators or a bailout from elected officials, industry advocates say the office sector could collapse — and drag regional banks down with it, causing the sort of broad financial catastrophe that nearly occurred with Silicon Valley Bank.

We don’t know yet what the impact of raising rates and lower liquidity will be on CRE market except headlines like “Blackstone REIT limits investor redemptions again in March”.

All signs seem to be pointing to cracks emerging in the CRE space and headlines seems to be confirming to the same. Will these cracks take the dam down is something yet to be seen. As the market awaits Fed pivot it is yet to be seen if the pivot will be too late for Commercial Real Estate.

The commercial space property value stood at $3.2 Trillion

US has the highest vacancy rate running somewhere at approximately 18%

Property Tax Relief with the passage of House Bill 2

The Texas house passed tax relief Bill. The Bill 2 establishes a 5% annual
appraisal Cap on all the property types.

83(2) HB 2 – Enrolled version – Bill Text (

  1. The bill limits the ability of local governments to increase property tax revenue without obtaining voter approval.
  2. The bill requires certain information to be included in the notices of proposed tax rate increases sent to property owners.
  3. It mandates that the appraisal district website must include a link to a searchable database of all tax rates for each taxing unit.
  4. The bill increases transparency in the property tax process by requiring local governments to provide more detailed information about tax rates and revenue in their budget documents.
  5. It also requires the Comptroller of Public Accounts to develop a property tax administration system to provide more transparency and accountability.
  6. The bill establishes a Property Tax Administration Advisory Board to advise and assist the comptroller with the development of the new system.
  7. Finally, the bill provides for penalties for noncompliance and authorizes the attorney general to investigate and enforce the provisions of the bill.

Market Stats – Greater Fort Worth

  • Median Sale Price Stood at 333,500 down 0.8% YoY
  • Closed Sales are down -12.4% YOY
  • Months of inventory stood at 2.7 up 1.6% YoY

Market Stats – Collin County

Contributor: Ishan Pandey follow me on Ishan Pandey @linkedin

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