Commercial, multifamily slowdown: permanent problem or temporary blip?

MBA's outlook "is particularly uncertain right now"

Commercial, multifamily slowdown: permanent problem or temporary blip?

After a strong half-year, commercial and multifamily mortgage transactions are forecasted to fall 14% year over year to $766 billion in 2022, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

From January through June, the commercial/multifamily sector record an unprecedented $891 billion in 2021. Solid fundamentals and values in recent years have fuelled commercial and multifamily borrowing and lending. However, investors and lenders are expected to start pulling back as the current economic climate grows more unsteady.

“We continue to see significant changes, volatility, and uncertainty in the space, equity, and debt markets that drive commercial real estate values and transaction volumes,” said Jamie Woodwell, VP of commercial real estate research at MBA. “There was a record level of borrowing and lending during the first half of this year.”

MBA predicted a 7% year-over-year drop in multifamily lending, down to $455 billion from last year’s record of $487 billion. However, the slowdown may be temporary. The trade group anticipates borrowing and lending to rebound in 2023 to $848 billion in total commercial real estate lending and $451 billion in multifamily lending.

“Given market changes, we forecast a significant slowdown in the second half of the year – driven by rising interest rates and capitalization rates and uncertainty among buyers, sellers, and other stakeholders about where market values may lie,” Woodwell said. “As we have noted before, most commercial real estate market fundamentals remain strong, with significant increases in the incomes and values of many properties in recent years. These factors are why MBA expects loan demand to begin to bounce back in 2023 and 2024.

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“MBA’s CREF Forecast is based on our baseline economic forecast, but the outlook is particularly uncertain right now. Different macroeconomic paths could lead to very different outcomes around the demand for and supply of commercial mortgage debt. Should the economy enter a recession, which has become considerably more likely, commercial and multifamily borrowing and lending would likely be further constrained.”