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17 Jul



Posted by: Brad Lockey

Rising Interest Rates and the Impact on Real Estate Values. Is there a direct connection? In a post entitled Interest Rates and Property Values. What’s the Connection?, I suggested that there was. An example was given which suggested that mortgage lenders would be directly impacted by a rise in rates, as their underwriting parameters, most notably debt service coverage requirements, are directly impacted. An inability for a buyer to secure the required financing amount, in an environment of increasing interest rates will, I argue, impact their willingness to offer as high a purchase price. Arguably a lower debt level will necessitate a greater amount of equity. This directly diminishes an investors cash-on-cash return. The inevitable result will be a softening of values since buyers will want to offer less.

Are there Other Factors?
The above-noted rationale, for establishing the link between interest rates and values does, however, ignore other factors which may impact market sentiment.

A recent study by Manulife Asset Management raises some interesting observations. In their March 2018 report entitled Canadian Commercial Real Estate Outlook, Manulife’s study observed that in fact there was no consistent relationship between real estate values and interest rates. One of their important findings was that although interest rates have been rising since November 2016, largely as a result of economic growth and higher inflationary pressure, capitalization rates actually declined. Why? Well apart from the sentiments of an individual buyer and lender, which is what I referenced in my earlier post, Canadian investors enjoyed improving real estate fundamentals. Yields were seen to be attractive in comparison to other investments, and there was a rise in foreign investment. All contributed to a support for commercial real estate fundamentals and stable or enhanced values.

Capitalization Rate Refresher
You may recall that capitalization rates are comprised of a nominal “risk-free” rate (often associated with a Government of Canada benchmark bond yield), plus a risk premium attributed to a specific property type or asset. If, as it appears, overall capitalization rates have declined, could it be that the “risk-free” rate is falling as well? I will encourage you to take a look at the Manulife report and come to your own conclusions. From a lender’s perspective, I do not doubt that rising rates have a bearing on what a buyer will pay for a property. I suspect real estate appraisers will be like-minded. The Manulife study, however, cautions us that there are macro-factors at play as well, and a strong economy is supportive of longer-term stability, and indeed growth, in the Canadian Commercial real estate market.