Morgan Stanley: What’s Coming To Commercial Real Estate Will Be Worse Than The 2008 Financial Crisis

Morgan Stanley: What’s Coming To Commercial Real Estate Will Be Worse Than The 2008 Financial Crisis

commercial real estate crisis

Business space for rent in Boston, Sept. 2, 2020. (AP /Steven Senne, File)

More than 6 million U.S. households lost their homes to foreclosure during the residential real estate disaster of the Great Financial Crisis, but an investment officer at Morgan Stanley, a Big 4 investment bank, predicts that what’s coming for commercial real estate will be worse.

Lisa Shalett, the chief investment officer for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, said she sees a wipeout of office properties with vacancy rates close to a 20-year high.

“MS & Co. analysts forecast a peak-to-trough CRE price decline of as much as 40 percent, worse than in the Great Financial Crisis,” Shalett wrote in the weekly Global Investment Committee note, Yahoo Finance reported.

If that happens, Shalett said, the trickle-down distress will hurt landlords, the bankers who lend to them, business communities, private capital funders, and owners of underlying securities. Tech and consumer discretionary sectors will not be immune, she said.

Already hit hard by the covid-era shift to remote work that brought rising vacancy rates and falling property values, the commercial real estate market faces a “huge hurdle” with refinancing in the face of rising interest rates, according to Shalett.

“More than 50% of the $2.9 trillion in commercial mortgages will need to be renegotiated in the next 24 months when new lending rates are likely to be up by 350 to 450 basis points,” Shalett wrote.

Regional banks, which accounted for 70-to-80 percent of all new loan originations in the past cycle, are especially vulnerable in the current economy, as evidenced by the collapse of three midsize banks in the space of a week in March. Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank saw a run on the bank. First Republic Bank‘s credit rating was downgraded on fears it could suffer the same fate.

Investors worry that the entire U.S. financial system is at risk if nervous depositors decide to move their money to bigger banks.

Tighter lending standards for the commercial real estate market are expected, Fortune reported, and are already in place with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to try and lower inflation. The banking crisis is expected to exacerbate the existing lack of liquidity. That will increase the risk of defaults, distress, and delinquencies in an industry built largely built on debt, experts previously told Fortune.