U.S. commercial real estate cap rates forecast 2026

U.S. commercial real estate cap rates forecast 2026

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Retail properties had the highest capitalization rates in the United States in 2023, followed by offices. The cap rate for office real estate was 6.54 percent in the fourth quarter of the year and was forecast to rise further to 7.39 percent in 2024. Cap rates measure the expected rate of return on investment, and show the net operating income of a property as a percentage share of the current asset value. While a higher cap rate indicates a higher rate of return, it also suggests a higher risk.

Why have cap rates increased?

The increase in cap rates is a consequence of a repricing in the commercial real estate sector. According to the National NCREIF Property Return Index, prices for commercial real estate declined across all property types in 2023. Rental growth was slow during the same period, resulting in a negative annual return. The increase in cap rates reflects the increased risk in the investment environment.

Pricing uncertainty in the commercial real estate sector

Between 2014 and 2021, commercial property prices in the U.S. enjoyed steady growth. Access to credit with low interest rates facilitated economic growth and real estate investment. As inflation surged in the following two years, lending policy tightened. That had a significant effect on the sector. First, it worsened sentiment among occupiers. Second, it led to a decline in demand for commercial spaces and commercial real estate investment volumes. Uncertainty about the future development of interest rates and occupier demand further contributed to the repricing of real estate assets.  

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