Commercial real estate was facing serious issues at the end of 2021 due to the increase in remote work and changes brought about by the pandemic. This resulted in a situation of excess inventories amid declining demand. However, these issues have been exacerbated by recent bank failures.
In a MarketWatch article by Joy Wiltermuth, she covered a research piece by Lisa Shalett, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who warned that commercial property prices could drop by as much as 40% and even have negative effects for other parts of the economy.
Shalett’s concern centers around the trillions of dollars of commercial mortgage debt set to mature over the next decade. And, the pressure is more acute in the current environment especially given high rates.
In terms of the broader economy, Shalett sees collateral damage from offices at depressed occupancy levels in terms of the businesses and municipalities that rely on people working in the cities. In her opinion, the stock market’s performance in Q1 reveals that investors are being ignorant of these risks.
Finsum: Morgan Stanley’s Lisa Shalett lays out some concerns over the commercial real estate market, why it could get worse, and its potential broader impacts on the economy.
While the entire real estate market is struggling amid a backdrop of rising rates, stubbornly high inflation, and a banking crisis, there is no area feeling more pain than commercial real estate (CRE). This segment never fully recovered from the pandemic as many businesses and employees seem to have permanently adopted a remote or hybrid work scheme.
Thus, commercial real estate was already struggling before the past year when these pains intensified due to a slowing economy and a hawkish Fed. However, some Wall Street analysts are seeing a contrarian opportunity in the sector despite these headwinds according to an article by Phillip van Doorn of Marketwatch.
Overall, the analyst community remains negative on the sector especially among office buildings. According to Adam Posen, President of the Peteron Institute for International Economics, office occupancy remains 30 to 40% lower than from before the pandemic. Many REITs with exposure to office buildings have already endured severe corrections.
Another risk is the potential of spillover pain into the financial system given that there is about $400 billion of annual CRE loan maturities. Current models estimate losses in the range of 1 to 3%.
Despite these headwinds, analysts see opportunities in the REITs with top-quartile properties and successful management teams.
Finsum: The weakest part of the real estate market is commercial real estate. It was already struggling due to the increase in remote and hybrid work, but these pains have been compounded by rising rates and a slowing economy.
It’s not surprising that real estate investment trusts (REITs) have endured a brutal bear market given the combination of rising rates and recent bank failures which have led to tighter credit conditions. In a recent Benzinga article, Kevin Vandenboss discusses why private real estate has performed much better.
As a result, the Real Estate Select SPDR Fund (NYSE: XLRE) is down 28.7% from its 2021 high, while the S&P 500 is down 19.6%. This underperformance has intensified in the past month with the Real Estate Select SPDR Fund down 5.2%, while the S&P 500 is up 1.4%.
Interestingly, private real estate has performed substantially better with many investments continuing to deliver positive returns. One factor is the reduced use of leverage which leads to more resilience during downturns. Another is being removed from the pressures of public markets and quarterly results often leads to better decision making.
Therefore, investors, who are interested in real estate, should consider this asset class as it can generate positive returns even during periods of poor stock market performance unlike REITs. Private real estate funds are able to focus on particular segments which remain in growth mode even amid adverse economic and financial conditions.
Finsum: REITs are mired in a bear market and their performance has worsened amid recent bank failures and the Fed’s hawkish policy. Yet, private real estate has outperformed and continues to deliver positive returns.
According to analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence, U.S. equity REITs have little direct exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, which had the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. Office REIT Cousins Properties Inc. reported Silicon Valley Bank as its ninth-largest tenant by annualized rent as of 2022 year-end at just over $8.4 million, or roughly 1.2% of the REIT's total rental portfolio. The REIT leases 204,751 square feet of office space to the bank at its Hayden Ferry property in Tempe, Arizona. Boston Properties Inc. houses Silicon Valley Bank's Seattle office in its recently acquired Madison Centre property. In addition, Paramount Group Inc. leases office space to SVB Securities LLC, an entity under the SVB Financial Group umbrella, at 1301 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, N.Y. Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. reported in a March 13th news release that it has one lease with an affiliate of Silicon Valley Bank in the Greater Boston area market totaling 32,152 rentable square feet. The lease's annual rental revenue as of Dec. 31st, 2022, was $1.7 million, or 0.08% of the REIT's total annual rental revenue.
Finsum:According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, U.S. REITs had limited exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, with some REITS reporting that SVB made up a small percentage of their rental portfolios.
Technology-driven real estate investment manager Cadre recently announced the launch of an individual retirement account (IRA) solution, allowing investors to allocate their IRA funds into commercial real estate (CRE) through the Cadre platform. The firm expects the new investment option to continue to expand access to CRE, which is a tax-advantaged asset class with longer investment periods and attractive risk-adjusted returns relative to equities. The new product provides a solution for IRA investors who just experienced a challenging year in the market. CRE typically features more stability and longer holding periods than traditional IRA investments like equities. For instance, during recent market drawdowns like the Great Financial Crisis and Dot-Com recession, equities lost an average of 36% in value, while private real estate averaged a 31.86% gain over the same periods. According to the firm, this makes it a fit for investors hoping to harvest returns for retirement. Ryan Williams, Founder and Executive Chairman of Cadre stated, “I founded Cadre to provide more individuals with a tax-efficient tool that institutions and ultra-high-net-worth investors have traditionally used to build wealth.” By equipping investors with the ability to invest their IRA dollars, we aim to expand access to diversified, robust retirement portfolios – and by extension, generational wealth.”
Finsum:With investors experiencing deep drawdowns in their equity funds during market downturns, real estate investment manager Cadre has launched an IRA option for investors to access commercial real estate, which typically features more stability.
While housing prices have recently fallen, don’t expect a market crash like in 2008. That is according to Jack Macdowell, co-founder, and chief investment officer at alternative asset manager Palisades Group. In a January note, Goldman Sachs strategists predicted that national home prices would fall by at least 10% peak-to-trough this year, but Macdowell disagrees. He stated, "People may be concerned that we're entering into another global financial crisis-type event, where we'll see a ton of distressed inventory on the market putting downward pressure on home values. I would argue that I don't think that's the case." To back up his point, Macdowell noted that today's lenders have become smarter about loan origination than they were in the past, which helps mitigate overall default risk in the market. He also said that the ratio of mortgage debt service payments versus disposable income is currently at historically low levels, versus its peak in 2007. According to him, both of these factors lead to the unlikeliness of a "2008-esque housing" crash. In addition, Macdowell points out that in comparison to historical levels, current mortgage rates are still considered to be fairly low and while demand has fallen across the nation, Macdowell believes a low housing supply is a reason to buy the dip in existing homes sales.
Finsum:Real estate CIO Jack Macdowell doesn’t expect a 2008-style housing crash as lenders have become much smarter about loan origination and the ratio of mortgage debt service payments versus disposable income is at historically low levels.