What to Expect for Commercial Construction Lending in 2023

Originally published on May 25, 2023, by Jim Fraser for NAIOP.

A recent report from the American Institute of Architects shows that nonresidential construction spending is expected to slow to a growth rate of 5.8% in 2023 (down from 10% in 2022) and then fall to a mere 1% growth rate in 2024. Recent years brought new stresses on the industry – COVID-19 shutdowns, supply chain woes, labor shortages and bank failures have slowed projects or put them entirely on hold.

Associated Builders and Contractors predicts that the construction industry will need to attract more than 500,000 extra workers in 2023 – on top of the normal pace of hiring – to meet labor demand. Real estate valuations are softening and have negatively adjusted in many markets as well. In Los Angeles, for instance, office building valuations declined by 40% in the first two months of the year, according to data from Yardi Matrix.

At the same time, the cost of capital has risen considerably. Starting in March 2022, the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates to quell inflation, which hit the highest level seen in four decades in late 2022. While the Fed’s efforts appear to have slowed inflation, a number of macroeconomic factors suggest a rough patch still lies ahead for the economy. This includes volatility in the bond markets and turbulence in the banking sector. Silicon Valley Bank’s failure in March was the largest since the Great Recession. Signature Bank shuttered days later, and Credit Suisse was swallowed up by a rival in the wake of its struggles. In turn, economists are seeing a pullback in bank lending — a trend that will affect commercial construction in the months ahead.

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