Fed Keeps Close Eye on Small Banks’ Real Estate Exposure

Updated: 11 months

• The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring the commercial real estate loan sector, as a surprising amount of exposure to it is concentrated in regional US banks.
• According to the Fed’s latest data, commercial real estate loans amount to $2.9 trillion as of May this year and small and mid-sized banks hold about 67.2% of all outstanding loans.
• A report from S&P Global Market Intelligence revealed that 576 banks are now overexposed to commercial real estate loans due to the current pandemic.

Fed Monitoring Commercial Real Estate Loans

Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell recently addressed concerns about commercial real estate loans and whether they pose a serious threat to the already embattled banking industry during a new appearance at the ECB Forum on Central Banking. Powell noted that while large banks do not have large concentrations in this area, surprisingly large amounts of exposure are present within smaller regional US banks. As such, he said that they are carefully monitoring this situation and utilizing a playbook for bank supervision when discussing concentrations with these institutions.

Current State of Commercial Real Estate Loans

As of May 2021, commercial real estate loans amounted to $2.9 trillion according to the Federal Reserve’s data; additionally, Goldman Sachs found that 67.2% of all outstanding commercial real estate loans were held by small and midsized banks. Furthermore, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that 576 banks have become overexposed due to workers continuing work remotely amid the pandemic’s effects on businesses across sectors.

Repercussions for Banks

With many businesses struggling due to economic instability related to COVID-19, there could be repercussions for those regional US banks with high concentrations in commercial real estate loans if their borrowers miss payments or default entirely on their debts due the pandemic’s effect on their businesses or personal finances alike. Therefore, it is important for bank supervisors and managers alike to pay close attention when managing concentration levels in order avoid serious losses should borrowers fail on their debt obligations due economic hardship caused by COVID-19 or other external factors beyond their control..

Strategies To Reduce Risk

Bank supervisors should employ strategies such as stress testing portfolios regularly or diversifying loan products offered in order reduce risk associated with highly concentrated exposures in one particular asset class such as CRE (commercial real estate). Moreover, efforts can be made towards increasing transparency around exposures so there is better visibility into how much overall risk certain institutions may be taking on or conversely which ones may have become overextended over time without proper management measures taken into account in advance .


Overall it is evident that federal regulators are paying close attention when it comes regional US Banks’ exposure towards CRE given its potential impact upon an already weakened banking industry during these turbulent times caused by ongoing global health crisis like COVID-19 .

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