The Impact of High-Interest Rates on Commercial Real Estate

Posted by Rana Zubair On July 22nd 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of the economy, interest rates play a pivotal role in shaping the commercial real estate market. The rise in interest rates can have far-reaching effects on various aspects of the industry, from property values to financing options. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the impact of high-interest rates on commercial real estate, exploring the consequences for owners, lenders, and investors. We will also provide valuable insights and strategies to mitigate the challenges posed by these changes.

Interest rates serve as a crucial determinant of borrowing costs, influencing the affordability and attractiveness of real estate investments. When interest rates are high, businesses and investors face higher borrowing costs, limiting their ability to finance new projects and expand their portfolios. This decrease in investment activity can lead to a slowdown in the commercial real estate market.

Conversely, when interest rates are low, borrowing becomes more affordable, stimulating demand for commercial properties. Low-interest-rate environments often result in increased investment, construction, and property values. However, the relationship between interest rates and commercial real estate is multifaceted, influenced by various factors, such as inflation, cap rates, supply and demand dynamics, and financing availability.

The Impact on Owners: Navigating Operating Costs and Debt Service

Commercial real estate owners face a multitude of challenges when interest rates rise. One of the primary concerns is the impact on operating costs. High-interest rates can lead to increased costs across various areas, such as wages and utilities. These rising expenses put pressure on owners’ cash flow, reducing their ability to invest in property maintenance and improvements.

Additionally, owners with floating-rate debt that is not adequately hedged may face significant challenges. As interest rates rise, debt service obligations increase, leaving less cash flow for other investments. This can result in a strain on the owner’s ability to meet debt obligations and negatively impact their financial stability.

Another critical consideration is the refinancing of maturing mortgages. Higher interest rates may make it more difficult for owners to refinance their loans, especially if their property values have decreased due to market conditions. This can lead to a higher risk of default or the need to inject additional equity to meet refinancing requirements.

In summary, the impact of high-interest rates on owners includes increased operating costs, challenges in meeting debt service obligations, and difficulties in refinancing existing mortgages.

The Perspective of Lenders: Balancing Risk and Return

Lenders play a crucial role in the commercial real estate market, providing financing options to property owners and investors. Higher interest rates affect lenders in several ways, influencing their risk assessment and lending practices.

One of the primary concerns for lenders is collateral value. Changes in interest rates can impact property valuations, affecting the loan-to-value ratios and collateral coverage. When interest rates rise, lenders need to carefully evaluate the potential impact on property values and adjust their lending practices accordingly.

Lenders also need to consider the impact of rising interest rates on debt service coverage. Higher borrowing costs can strain borrowers’ ability to meet their debt obligations, leading to a higher risk of default. To mitigate this risk, lenders may tighten their underwriting standards, requiring higher debt service coverage ratios and stronger loan covenants.

Furthermore, changes in interest rates can affect the availability of funding for real estate projects. Banks may become more cautious about lending to the commercial real estate sector, particularly if they anticipate increased risks due to rising interest rates. This can create opportunities for non-bank mortgage investors to step in and provide alternative funding sources.

In summary, lenders must carefully assess the impact of high-interest rates on collateral values, debt service coverage, and funding availability when making lending decisions in the commercial real estate market.

The Investor’s Perspective: Navigating Uncertainty and Identifying Opportunities

Investors in commercial real estate face unique challenges and opportunities in a high-interest-rate environment. The unpredictability of interest rates and their impact on property values and cash flows require investors to carefully analyze their investment strategies and adapt to changing market conditions.

One of the key considerations for investors is the potential impact on property valuations. If there isn’t strong economic growth and rental demand, rising interest rates can put downward pressure on property values. Investors need to carefully assess their portfolios and identify properties that may be more vulnerable to changes in interest rates.

However, high-interest-rate environments can also present opportunities for investors. Properties in sectors that are less affected by interest rate changes, such as warehouses and multifamily housing, may continue to perform well and provide stable returns. Investors can focus on these sectors and explore investment opportunities that align with their risk tolerance and long-term investment goals.

In addition, investors should consider the potential impact of rising interest rates on financing costs. Higher borrowing costs can affect the affordability of new investments and may require investors to adjust their financial models and return expectations. It is crucial to carefully evaluate the potential impact of financing costs on investment returns and make informed decisions based on thorough analysis.

Overall, investors in commercial real estate need to navigate the uncertainty of high interest rates by conducting thorough market research, identifying resilient sectors, and adapting their investment strategies to mitigate risks and seize opportunities.

Mitigating the Effects of High-Interest Rates: Strategies for Success

While the impact of high-interest rates on commercial real estate is significant, there are strategies that businesses, owners, lenders, and investors can employ to mitigate the effects and navigate the changing landscape. Here are some key strategies to consider:

1. Diversify Your Portfolio

Diversification is a fundamental risk management strategy in any investment portfolio. By diversifying across different sectors, property types, and geographic locations, investors can reduce their exposure to any single sector’s volatility. This can help mitigate the impact of high-interest rates on specific properties and provide a more balanced portfolio.

2. Focus on Resilient Sectors

Certain sectors, such as industrial and multifamily housing, have demonstrated resilience in the face of changing interest rates. These sectors have strong demand drivers and can continue to perform well even in a high-interest-rate environment. Investors can consider allocating a larger portion of their portfolio to these sectors to mitigate the impact of rising interest rates.

3. Evaluate Financing Options

In a high-interest-rate environment, it becomes even more critical to evaluate financing options carefully. Investors should explore different lenders and financing structures to ensure they secure the most favorable terms. This may involve negotiating interest rates and loan terms and exploring alternative financing sources such as private debt funds or non-bank lenders.

4. Monitor and Adapt to Market Conditions

Market conditions can change rapidly, and businesses, owners, lenders, and investors must monitor these changes and adapt their strategies accordingly. Staying informed about interest rate trends, economic indicators, and market dynamics can help identify potential risks and opportunities. This continuous monitoring allows for proactive decision-making and the adjustment of investment strategies.

5. Seek Professional Advice

Navigating the complexities of the commercial real estate market requires expertise and experience. Please click here to book a free consultation with us. We can provide valuable insights and help make informed decisions. These professionals can provide guidance on market trends, financing options, and investment strategies tailored to individual goals and risk tolerance.

In summary, mitigating the effects of high-interest rates on commercial real estate requires a comprehensive approach that includes diversification, focusing on resilient sectors, evaluating financing options, monitoring market conditions, and seeking professional advice. By implementing these strategies, businesses, owners, lenders, and investors can navigate the challenges posed by high-interest rates and position themselves for success in the evolving market.


High-interest rates have a significant impact on the commercial real estate market, affecting owners, lenders, and investors alike. The rise in borrowing costs, changes in property valuations, and shifts in market dynamics require careful analysis and strategic decision-making. However, with the right strategies in place, businesses and investors can navigate these challenges and seize opportunities in a high-interest-rate environment.

By diversifying portfolios, focusing on resilient sectors, evaluating financing options, monitoring market conditions, and seeking professional advice, stakeholders in the commercial real estate market can position themselves for success. The ability to adapt to changing market conditions and make informed decisions is crucial in an ever-evolving economic landscape.

While the impact of high interest rates on commercial real estate cannot be ignored, it is important to remember that opportunities exist even in challenging times. By staying informed, staying proactive, and leveraging the expertise of industry professionals, businesses and investors can thrive in a high-interest-rate environment and achieve their long-term financial goals.