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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Real Estate Professionals Welcome Interest Rate Cuts by Central Banks in Canada and Europe: Will the U.S. Follow?


European Central Bank

The commercial real estate (CRE) sectors in Europe and Canada have warmly welcomed recent interest rate cuts by their respective central banks. These moves, announced just a day apart, have fueled optimism among property professionals and investors alike, signaling potential relief from the financial pressures that have stifled market activity. The anticipation now turns to the United States, where expectations are building for the Federal Reserve to follow suit later this year.


European Central Bank Eases Monetary Policy


On Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its key interest rates by 25 basis points, reducing rates on the main refinancing operations, the marginal lending facility, and the deposit facility to 4.25%, 4.50%, and 3.75%, respectively. The ECB's decision, driven by an assessment of the inflation outlook and the underlying dynamics of monetary policy, marked a significant shift after nine months of holding rates steady.


David Rea, JLL’s director of macroresearch and chief economist for the EMEA, emphasized the positive implications of the ECB’s rate cut. "This move opens the door for further cuts in the future and a potential compression in real estate yields," he noted. "Lower future borrowing costs and the possibility of capital value appreciation will likely improve both underwriting ability and willingness while increasing transactional liquidity."


Canada Follows with Its First Rate Cut in Over Four Years


A day before the ECB's announcement, the Bank of Canada made a similar move by cutting its overnight lending rate to 4.75%, the first reduction in over four years. This decision comes as the country grapples with a slowdown driven by previously high policy rates, which had reached a 22-year peak.


Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem expressed cautious optimism about the decision during a press conference, acknowledging the likelihood of further cuts while tempering market expectations. "We have come a long way in fighting inflation," Macklem stated, recognizing the challenges higher rates have posed for buyers and renters.


Luke Simurda, director of research in Canada for commercial property brokerage Marcus & Millichap, highlighted the potential benefits of the rate cut for CRE investors. "While a 25-basis point cut may not immediately trigger a wave of investment activity, it signals to the market that borrowing costs are coming down, providing renewed confidence for many investors," Simurda said.


Implications for the U.S. Market


As Europe and Canada move to lower interest rates, attention now turns to the United States. According to a recent Reuters poll, a majority of economists expect the Federal Reserve to cut its key interest rate twice this year, starting in September. The anticipation is based on the need to balance the fight against inflation to stimulate economic activity.

The Federal Reserve's potential rate cuts could provide much-needed relief for the U.S. CRE market, which has faced significant challenges due to elevated interest rates and economic uncertainty. Lower borrowing costs would make it easier for developers, owners, and investors to finance projects, potentially revitalizing a market that has seen subdued transaction volumes.


A Global Trend Toward Easing


The recent actions by the ECB and the Bank of Canada reflect a broader trend among central banks to moderate monetary policy in response to changing economic conditions. For the CRE sector, these rate cuts signal a shift toward more favorable borrowing conditions, fostering a sense of optimism about future market activity.


In Europe, property professionals are hopeful that the ECB’s rate cut will pave the way for further reductions, easing the refinancing of loans against properties purchased before the series of rate hikes that began in early 2022. Similarly, in Canada, real estate professionals anticipate additional cuts that would further reduce borrowing costs and stimulate investment.


Looking Ahead


For the United States, the prospect of interest rate cuts later this year offers a potential lifeline for the CRE market. As global central banks move to ease monetary policy, the Federal Reserve may follow suit, aligning with the broader trend and providing much-needed support to an industry eager for a resurgence in activity.

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