Chicago leads in certain commercial property loan distress in August: KBRA

By Matt Tracy

(Reuters) – Chicago’s commercial real estate sector loans, within certain securities, had the highest distress or delinquency rate in August among the top 20 U.S. metro cities, a new research report from ratings agency KBRA said.

The distress rate has climbed across the U.S. CRE market over the last two years, on the back of a rapid rise in interest rates and post-pandemic vacancies in offices and other buildings.

According to KBRA’s report, released on Monday, these and other factors led to a national rise in delinquencies or special servicing on CMBS 2.0 – the post-global financial crisis series of commercial mortgage-backed securities, deemed safer than their pre-GFC counterparts.

CMBS 2.0 delinquencies, or specially serviced loan volume, rose to 6.8% in August from 4.5% in June 2022, according to the report, which looked at nearly $600 billion of the overall $4.5 trillion CRE debt market.

Chicago led all metro areas at 22% overall distress in CMBS 2.0 loans, “largely reflecting [its] lodging and office exposure,” the report’s authors noted.

A handful of large loans contributed to the Windy City’s high August distress rate. These include a $400 million loan against the Aon Center, a $388 million loan backing Prudential Plaza, and a $329 million loan on the Palmer House Hilton.

Other areas also had high distress rates compared to the national average. While its own office challenges have been widely reported, San Francisco surprisingly was beat out in office CMBS distress by Denver’s 40.4%.

CRE loans in 13 metro cities saw significantly lower distress rates than the national average. KBRA pointed to high population growth leading to lower vacancies in cities such as Orlando, Miami and Phoenix.

In other markets, most notably the Seattle and San Jose areas, a high concentration of tech-focused office workers contributed to low distress rates.

(Reporting by Matt Tracy; Editing by Sharon Singleton)