ECB flags European banks' CRE risk amid interest rate hikes

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ECB flags European banks' CRE risk amid interest rate hikes

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank (ECB) has spotlighted the risks to financial stability posed by European banks' exposure to commercial real estate (CRE), particularly in the context of rising interest rates and a sustained dip in office space demand. The ECB's forthcoming review draws attention to potential significant banking losses due to CRE loans, which represent 10% of banks' loan portfolios—less than residential loans, which account for nearly 30%.

The review highlights concerns around the valuation of loan books as the CRE market adjusts to the post-pandemic environment, marked by a lack of deals extending over a year. The ECB warns that substantial losses in the real estate sector could lead to widespread stress affecting not only banks but also investment funds and insurers that have considerable investments in CRE.

This scrutiny from the ECB comes at a time when financial institutions are navigating the challenges of an evolving economic landscape, with higher borrowing costs potentially impacting the profitability and stability of banks heavily invested in commercial properties. The central bank's assessment underlines the interconnectedness of different financial sectors and how vulnerabilities in one area can have broader implications.

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