The U.S. commercial mortgage market has been facing challenges due to higher rates and tighter financial conditions, leading to an increase in delinquencies. According to Trepp, the delinquency rate for commercial property loans packaged into bond deals on Wall Street rose by 51 basis points to 4.41% in July. These delinquencies are for loans that are at least 30 days past due.
Of particular concern is the segment of office loans, which saw the delinquency rate rise even higher to 5%. This has drawn attention from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department as the market grapples with half-empty buildings and a significant amount of debt maturing alongside increasing borrowing costs.
As seen in the chart above, there has been a sharp uptick in office loans within commercial mortgage-backed securities deals since December. While there are multiple property types involved in Wall Street bond deals, retail loans had the highest delinquency rate of 6.9% in July, followed by lodging at 5.9%.
Although overall loan delinquencies in the sector are now at their highest level since December 2021, they still remain below the record of 10.3% set in July 2012 during the global financial crisis.
However, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield pushing back above 4%, it is unlikely that rates on commercial mortgage loans will return to the era of cheap debt anytime soon. The commercial real estate (CRE) market continues to lag behind other sectors of the U.S. economy, which have seen relief in terms of higher equity prices, better-than-expected corporate earnings, and falling inflation numbers.
Despite these challenges, broader stock market indices like the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average have shown resilience. The S&P 500 closed Tuesday less than 5% below its record finish in January 2022, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 3.2% off its last record finish.
In conclusion, the U.S. commercial mortgage market is facing significant headwinds due to higher rates and tighter financial conditions. While delinquency rates have increased, they are still lower than during the global financial crisis. It remains to be seen when the sector will experience relief from these challenges and catch up with other sectors of the economy.
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