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The Meltdown of Commercial Real Estate

The Meltdown of Commercial Real Estate

In case you’ve still got money in a bank, Bloomberg is warning that defaults in commercial real estate loans could “topple” hundreds of U.S. banks.

Leaving taxpayers on the hook for trillions in losses.

The note, by senior editor James Crombie, walks us through the festering hellscape that is commercial real estate.

To set the mood, a new study predicts that nearly half of downtown Pittsburgh office space could be vacant in four years. Major cities such as San Francisco are already sporting zombie-apocalypse downtowns, with abandoned office buildings baking in the sun.

So what happened?

The Fed’s yo-yo interest rates first flooded real estate with low rates and cheap money. Which were overbuilt.

Then came the lockdowns, which forced millions to figure out new workday patterns. People liked foregoing the long commute (not to mention the free money). Despite every effort, downtown businesses have not been able to get all workers back.

These days, everyone talks about hybrid models of working, some in-person and some remote. But judging from observation, remote is winning. In any case, even a 30 percent reduction in the footprint of office space once the leases are renewed could topple the entire sector.

The restaurant and retail sectors of downtown feel the pinch, with more closures all the time. Adding to the pressure are absurd levels of inflation and ever-riskier streets on matters of personal security. Put it all together and there is ever less reason to slog to the office.

When the Fed panic-hiked interest rates in the 2021 inflation, that put trillions of commercial real estate underwater even without other factors. Add to that crime, inflation, plus remote work, and you have a dangerous mix that could topple cities as we know them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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