Mid-Year 2023

Commercial Real Estate Outlook & Opportunities

A period of mispriced opportunities

Swings in the market are inevitable, but sometimes things change drastically and require a remarkable shift in strategy to navigate. The events of the past few years have created markedly different environments for investing in commercial real estate (CRE).

In 2023, not only are interest rates at their highest level seen in the last 16 years, the pace at which the Federal Reserve raised interest rates was one of the most aggressive hiking sprees that we have experienced in our U.S. history.1 The reason, according to the Fed, is quite simple: to battle high inflation and bring it closer to its 2% annual target over the long run.

Figure 1: U.S. Federal Funds Effective Rate by Yearthesis-fig1
Source: Federal Funds Effective Rate, Federal Reserve Economic Data, May 2023. 

We have long since exited the age of “free money”, where the Fed lowered interest rates to 0% to boost economic activity in 2020, and have entered a period of strict access to lending.1 After more than a year of tight monetary policy, not only has the cost of borrowing increased precipitously, but liquidity has also markedly decreased. In 2022, we witnessed major banks move to the sidelines starting in the second half of the year due to increased reserve requirements while in 2023 we are witnessing regional banks pull back further in the wake of a regional banking crisis.

We are observing that today’s high interest rate market environment is affecting deal pricing as groups are basing their underwriting assumptions on a significantly higher cost to acquire debt, to build new projects, and to maintain existing ones. Additionally, the current interest rate environment is generally leading to higher cap rate assumptions at exit.

Figure 2: Green Street Commercial Property Price Index® - All Propertythesis-fig2
Source: Commercial Property Price Index, Green Street, May 2023. 

Consistent with dwindling sources of capital, CRE prices declined roughly 13% in 2022 after rising by 24% in 2021.2 The majority of the price declines occurred in the second half of 2022, coinciding with the effects of deteriorating capital markets.

The rate at which prices are declining has since slowed down (prices down by only 2.2% in Q1 2023) for most asset classes, but we expect further declines to materialize over the course of 2023.2 As CRE property values are shifting, we have observed widening bid/ask spreads on deals depending on the property type, location, risk profile of the investment, and the motivation of the seller with significant discounts to peak pricing.

Figure 3: Price Dispersion between Major Asset Classesthesis-fig3
Source: Commercial Property Price Index, Green Street, May 2023. 

Unlike the stock market, which is by definition considered to be an efficient market, meaning that market prices reflect all available and relevant information, CRE is inherently an inefficient market, which basically means that assets may transact at prices that are higher or lower than their intrinsic value. This can be possible in the CRE market for reasons which may include a) information is not readily available to market participants or b) participants are interpreting information differently. It appears that high interest rates and the resulting uncertainty may have increased the CRE market’s “inefficiency”, so to speak.

Bidders in the market are going back and forth on pricing, which has opened up room to exploit mispriced opportunities, especially those where buyers can justify significant discounts to recent peak pricing. Uncertainty is the name of the game and no one can accurately predict when or if the economy will go back to a low interest rate environment and therefore are adjusting to the “new normal.”

Bidders in the market are going back and forth on pricing, which has opened up room to exploit mispriced opportunities.

Keeping in mind that many trends in this economic environment are still taking shape, we are keeping a close eye on interest rates, inflation, and other economic indicators to keep you informed. Our latest outlook and opportunities report update combines industry knowledge and in-depth research to build our outlook and assess opportunity across multiple CRE asset classes.

1 Federal Funds Effective Rate, Federal Reserve Economic Data, May 2023.
2 Commercial Property Price Index, Green Street, May 2023.

Disclaimer: Investing in commercial real estate entails substantive risk. You should not invest unless you can sustain the risk of loss of capital, including the risk of total loss of capital. All investors should consider their individual factors in consultation with a professional advisor of their choosing when deciding if an investment is appropriate. An investment in a private placement is highly speculative and involves a high degree of risk, including the risk of loss of the entire investment. Private placements are illiquid investments and are intended for investors who do not need a liquid investment.
CrowdStreet, Inc. (“CrowdStreet”) offers investment opportunities and financial services on its website. Advisory services are offered through CrowdStreet Advisors, LLC (“CrowdStreet Advisors”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CrowdStreet and a federally registered investment adviser. CrowdStreet Advisors provides investment advisory services exclusively to privately managed accounts and private funds and does not otherwise provide investment advisory services to the CrowdStreet Marketplace or its users.

This article was written by an employee of CrowdStreet Advisors and the contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. Neither this publication nor the financial professionals who authored it are rendering financial, legal, tax or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters, nor does the distribution of this publication to any person constitute an offer, recommendation, or solicitation to buy or sell any security or investment product issued by CrowdStreet Advisors, its affiliates, or otherwise. The views and statements expressed are based upon the opinions of CrowdStreet Advisors. All information is from sources believed to be reliable. This article is not intended to be relied upon as advice to investors or potential investors and does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any investor. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of money you invest, and past performance does not guarantee future performance or success. All investors should consider such factors in consultation with a professional advisor of their choosing when deciding if an investment is appropriate. CrowdStreet Advisors assumes no liability in connection with the use of this publication.