The Federal Reserve reduced interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis and hinted it may cut again this year to insulate the record-long U.S. economic expansion from slowing global growth.
Central bankers voted, with two officials dissenting, to lower the target range for the benchmark rate by a quarter-percentage point to 2%-2.25%. The shift was predicted by most investors and economists, yet will disappoint President Donald Trump, who tweeted on Tuesday he wanted a “large cut.’’
“In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the committee decided to lower’’ rates, the Federal Open Market Committee, led by Jerome Powell, said in a statement following a two-day meeting in Washington. It also noted that “uncertainties” about the economic outlook remain.
Officials also stopped shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet effective Aug. 1, ending a process that very modestly tightens monetary policy and was previously scheduled to come to a close at the end of September.
Policy makers appeared open to another cut as early as September when they next convene while sticking with wording in their statement that preserves their options.
“As the committee contemplates the future path of the target range for the federal funds rate, it will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” they said.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston’s Eric Rosengren voted against the cut. The statement said they “preferred at this meeting to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate.” It was the first time since Powell took over as chairman in February 2018 that two policy makers dissented.
Investors had forecast the Fed to continue easing monetary policy this year, with futures pricing the key rate to fall about another half-point by January. U.S. stocks rose to a record last week in anticipation of easier money, while the yield on two-year Treasuries has undershot 2% since May.
While the domestic economy has performed relatively well, the Fed cut amid concern that softness abroad threatens the decade- long U.S. expansion. Trump’s trade war with China is hurting foreign demand. Data released earlier Wednesday showed the pace of quarter-over-quarter growth in the euro area slowed by half in the latest three months to 0.2%.
In the U.S., after growing 2.5% last year, fuelled by now-fading tax cuts and higher government spending, the economy expanded at a 2.1% annualized pace in the second quarter. The trade dispute was blamed for a manufacturing slowdown and the first drop in business investment since 2016.
In their assessment of the US economy, officials made only minor changes to their statement language.
Powell has repeatedly said the Fed’s “overarching goal’’ is to keep growth going. Acting now, when the central bank has less room to pare rates than in past downturns, is partly aimed at getting ahead of any potential slump.
Lacklustre inflation also offered the Fed space and reason to ease. Its preferred price gauge, excluding food and energy, rose 1.6% in June from a year earlier and hasn’t met the Fed’s 2% target this year.
Trump is unlikely to be satisfied as he puts the economy at the heart of his re-election bid. He has broken with convention and undermined the Fed’s political independence by lobbying it to loosen policy and publicly questioning his nomination of Powell as chairman.
At his press conference, Powell will almost certainly be asked if the Fed buckled to that pressure. He may also be quizzed on whether the Fed, if requested, would join the U.S. Treasury in any effort to weaken the dollar given Trump’s complaints about the currency’s value.
While Trump and some investors wanted the Fed to be more aggressive, its scope for doing so is limited. Stocks are high, unemployment is around the lowest in a half-century and consumers continue to spend. At the same time, a measure of business in the Chicago region fell this month to the lowest since late 2015.
The rate reduction was the first since December 2008 when the Fed dropped its benchmark effectively to zero as it battled recession and financial crisis. It began raising borrowing costs in December 2015, doing so another eight times. Officials indicated as recently as December they intended to continue to hike this year.
They dumped that plan in January as financial markets fretted monetary policy had become too restrictive.
A worry for policy makers is that a decade of easy money leaves them short of ammunition for fighting a serious downturn. That likely means governments will face demands to do more if economies keep struggling.
Copyright Bloomberg News
by Bloomberg 31 Jul 2019
Industrial availability dropped to a record low in Q1 2019, while office markets across Canada had some of the best results in recent memory
Canada’s office real estate recorded the most vigorous leasing activity in years, primarily spurred by a rapidly expanding tech sector. Overall, the national office property vacancy rate decreased by 40 basis points (bps) quarter-over-quarter to 11.5% in Q1 2019, the lowest level since Q2 2015. The amount of office product under construction nationwide in the first quarter reached 16.0 million sq. ft. for the first time since Q4 2015, as Vancouver saw an additional 1.4 million sq. ft. of new office development break ground this quarter.
The rise of online retail sales, and the associated warehouse space needed to keep up with consumer demand, has pushed the Canadian industrial market into overdrive. The national industrial availability rate dropped to a new record low of 3.0% in Q1 2019. To meet user demand for taller clear heights, larger door counts, and specialized warehouse configurations, 22.6 million sq. ft. of industrial space is under construction, the bulk of which is in Toronto and Vancouver. This is the highest level of national industrial development seen since 2015.
“Canadian office markets continue to gather momentum, in large part as a result of rapidly growing tech and co-working sectors. The remarkable office market momentum continues to build, but tenants have fewer and fewer options if they don’t plan ahead,” commented CBRE Canada Vice-Chairman PaulMorassutti. “Meanwhile industrial developers are responding to chronic space shortages with new construction, while tenants are opting to secure space prior to construction completion. In Toronto, all new supply delivered in Q1 2019 was pre-leased, and 77.6% of the 9.58 million sq. ft. under construction already has tenancies in place.”
Here are some of the other commercial real estate records logged in the first quarter:
- Downtown Toronto office vacancy tightened another 10 bps, dropping the rate to a new record low of 2.6% in the first quarter.
- Montreal’s downtown office vacancy now sits at 8.6%, the lowest it has been since Q4 2013, with tech company growth playing a key role in this decline. The downtown core has had 819,500 sq. ft. of new product delivered over the past eight quarters, with 998,139 sq. ft. of additional space under construction as of Q1 2019.
- Calgary experienced 289,515 sq. ft. of positive net absorption of downtown office space in Q1 2019, the largest quarter of positive absorption since the oil downturn in 2014. Much of the activity came from tenants taking back space previously listed for sublease, spaces being converted to co-working uses, and landlords turning unoccupied supply into amenity space.
- Toronto’s industrial market, which has had 16 consecutive quarters of positive net absorption, saw its availability rate hit an all-time low of 1.5% in Q1, with 2.2 million sq. ft. of positive net absorption.
- Calgary’s industrial market, which has logged nine consecutive quarters of positive net absorption, had a further 649,080 sq. ft. of space taken up in the first quarter of 2019.
- The Halifax industrial market had 50,465 sq. ft. of positive net absorption in Q1, the ninth straight quarter of positive net absorption for that city.
“In recent years, the Canadian real estate market had been somewhat polarized between areas of pronounced strength and areas facing challenges; however, this quarter showed more momentum for cities across the country, including hard-hit Alberta,” said Morassutti. “It’s worth noting that while overall office vacancy has remained stable quarter over quarter in Edmonton and Calgary, the amount of sublet space on the market – which serves as a bellwether for the office segment – decreased by 25.1% and 8.6% respectively. This is a promising indication that Alberta’s CRE conditions look to be improving at long last.”
For further details and insights, download CBRE’s Canada Q1 2019 Quarterly Statistics report here.
But synergy between the two sides is sorely lacking in the real estate industry, experts say.
Residential real estate professionals may be leaving money on the table by neglecting to send referrals to commercial practitioners. But agents on both sides of the business should partner with each other to expand their clientele and improve their bottom lines, a panel of brokers told attendees at the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue conference in Las Vegas.
Robert Pressley, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial MECA in Charlotte, N.C., demonstrated how lucrative these partnerships can be. He recalled working with a New York–based residential agent in August who had a client looking to place $100 million in cash in a 1031 exchange. “I was able to close on more than $70 million and sent the referring agent a $345,000 referral fee,” Pressley said. “That’s one way to make money.”
Synergy between the residential and commercial sides, though, goes largely untapped in the industry, which flummoxes Bob Fredrickson, CCIM, president of Coldwell Banker Commercial Danforth in Federal Way, Wash. Having worked on both sides of the business himself, Fredrickson said he’s always had commercial and residential teams working together. “We’ve seen the results,” he said. “In 2017, we had $86,000 in referral fees, and in 2018, we had $525,000 in referral fees on the residential side. That is powerful. We got [residential agents’] attention because they can add 10 to 20 percent a year to their incomes.”
Pressley cautioned residential agents against pursuing their clients’ commercial interests if they don’t have experience handling such transactions. It’s bad for the client and themselves if they do it wrong, and it’s better to hand it off to a commercial pro, he said. “It’s never the big-performing residential agents trying to do [a commercial] deal. It’s the newer agents that don’t have a lot going on, and the last thing they should be doing is a commercial transaction. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I have never sold a house in my life and never will. I will mess it up so fast.”
But his advice is conditional: In rural areas where commercial transactions are more infrequent, agents may be wise to learn both sides of the business so they don’t have to send a client to another market to find a commercial pro, Pressley said. But in larger cities with a wealth of both types of transactions, residential and commercial deals should be handled separately by knowledgeable agents.
Commercial pros, too, should understand when to seek the expertise of a residential agent, Pressley noted. Oftentimes, they must cooperate with one another in a leasing or multifamily transaction, and it’s wise not to assume either party misunderstands the other and can be taken advantage of. Residential pros can be helpful to commercial brokers because they’re good at developing client relationships and can offer advice on making deeper business connections, Pressley said.
Duff Rubin, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Mid-Atlantic, said that many home buyers may also be entrepreneurs interested in leasing space nearby. “Everyone who has a home has a job,” Rubin said. “Every single person [residential agents] are speaking to and selling a home to is a buyer in a potential commercial lease. They need to pull the leads out of them.”
Pressley said that while commercial agents can get a lot of referrals from the residential side, it doesn’t necessarily work the same in reverse. He said that most times when he sends referrals to residential agents, it involves a commercial client who needs to find homes for relocating employees. But with so many more residential agents than commercial ones, there’s a lot of competition, he said.
Curve inversion draws CRE capital
Increasing evidence of a global economic slowdown in recent weeks has elevated the risk profile for Canada’s economy. Globally, Brexit negotiations are still gridlocked, the Eurozone economy falters and U.S.-China trade negotiations drag on. Domestically, household debt-to-income levels are the highest they have ever been, retail sales are slowing, oil sands producers are reevaluating projects due to pipeline delays and the likelihood for ratification of the CUSMA trade deal wanes as tariffs remain. These developments have sparked concern that a technical recession may emerge in Canada given weak expectation for Q1 2019 growth and a potential downward revision to Q4 2018’s already meager results.
Amid these growing headwinds, the Federal Reserve eliminated their expectations for an interest rate hike this year. The Fed acknowledged the need to avoid getting stuck in a deflationary environment like that which has plagued Japan for the last two decades. In turn, this dovish shift in tone triggered an inversion on another segment of the U.S. yield curve as investors sought the safety of bonds. Widely considered a reliable harbinger of a downturn within a few years, the spread between 10-year Treasury bond yields fell below its 3-month counterpart for the first time since just prior the Great Financial Crisis. The inversion also emerged in Canada and pulled down global bond yields. In fact, investors are even pricing in expectations for central banks to cut interest rates by the end of 2019 to keep the economy going. For the commercial real estate market, falling bond yields may translate to lower mortgage rates with wider cap rate spreads. The precipitous fall in bond yields has some lenders contemplating next steps.
Against this backdrop, commercial real estate has become an increasingly attractive investment vehicle. According to CBRE’s Global Investor Intentions Survey 2019, diversification is the primary driver for investors in the Americas showed the strongest interest for value-add property assets. However, the commercial real estate sector has attracted an abundance of capital over recent years and real estate funds are now challenged to deploy all that capital as the levels of dry power continue to rise. But even more capital is expected to come with the recent formation of several mega-sized real estate funds such as BCI and RBC’s CA $7 billion investment partnership, Brookfield’s recent closing of its US$15 billion BSREP III fund and Blackstone’s record-setting US$20 billion property fund on the horizon.
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2018 started with confidence from the Bank of Canada’s (“BOC”) economic outlook for the year. However, the GDP growth forecast gradually declined as oil prices dropped and as tensions grew in international trade markets. As a result, we saw a reversal in the increasing trend of Government of Canada (“GOC”) bond yields at the end of 2018. 2019 begins with some uncertainty around the growth in the Canadian economy, the direction of GOC yields, and whether further increases in the overnight rate will occur in 2019..
GOC bond yields ended generally flat in 2018 – the 3-year GOC
increased by 11 bps, 5-year increased by 1 bps, and the 10-year
GOC yield decreased by 9 bps.
There were three rate hikes in 2018 for the Bank of Canada (“BOC”) overnight target rate, which brought the rate to 1.75%, the
highest since Q4/08, but the Bank of Canada held the overnight
rate constant for their last two meetings.
Capital supply and competition for commercial mortgages remained strong throughout 2018 as spreads continued to absorb the increases in the GOC yields, holding commercial mortgage coupons relatively steady. During Q4/18, GOC bond yields fell in response to the deteriorating outlook from the BOC, reversing the upward trend in 2018. Corporate bond markets reacted as investors demanded higher spreads – roughly 50 bps higher for BBB-rated corporate bonds in Q4/18 alone.
Commercial mortgage spreads became a hot topic towards the end of Q4, as brokers and investors alike were looking for signs of change in the market. Commercial mortgage spreads eventually reacted with an increase in December by 10-15 bps, ending the
year at 150-170 bps for top quality assets. The average 5-year conventional commercial mortgage coupon ended 2018 roughly flat at 3.60%. January 2019 has quickly seen another 15 bps increase in spreads, now in the range of 165-185 bps for top quality assets.
BBB-rated corporate bond investments tend to compete for the same capital as commercial mortgages, since BBB-rated corporate bonds provide a similar return on risk. As firms look to make portfolio investment decisions, the spread premium for commercial mortgages over BBB-rated corporate bonds can be an indication of where capital supply may shift or how commercial mortgage spreads may respond to changes in BBB-rated corporate spreads.
Recent increases in BBB-rated corporate bond spreads improved the relative attractiveness of this investment against commercial mortgages. The spread premium for commercial mortgages dropped from 85 to 25 bps year over year – significantly lower relative to the 67 bps long term average. Consequently, commercial mortgage funds may
require higher spreads to compete for capital against their BBB-rated corporate bond counterparts.
Based on the low spread premium for commercial mortgages compared to the long-term average, a further widening in commercial mortgage spreads is possible.
Senior Unsecured Debt
In Q4/18, senior unsecured debt issuance reached $1 billion,up from $375 million in Q3/18. Total issuance for the year was driven largely by the nearly $2 billion raised by Choice Properties REIT in Q1/18.
Overall spreads on BBB-rated senior unsecured debt rose sharply from 145 bps at the end of Q3/18 to 194 bps by the end of Q4/18. With the increase, spreads surpassed those of conventional commercial mortgages. With the current premium for unsecured debt, REITs and REOCs may consider more conventional mortgage financing.
CMHC-insured mortgages offer an attractive return for lenders looking to earn additional yield, while maintaining an indirect
guarantee from the Government of Canada. As most insured mortgages are originated with the purpose of securitization into the National Housing Act (“NHA”) Mortgage-Backed Security program run by CMHC, lenders tend to quote spreads based on Canada Mortgage Bond (“CMB”) spreads. Given this, it is no surprise with the increases in CMB spreads seen in Q4/18, that CMHC-insured spreads also increased.
Through Q4/18, the 5-year and 10-year CMB spreads increased from 29 bps to 42 bps and from 38 bps to 55 bps, respectively. Spreads on CMHC-insured mortgages followed suit with a 10 – 15 bps increase to 90 – 115 bps over GOC on 5-year terms and 100 – 125 bps on 10-year terms.
Quarterly Lenders Sentiment Survey and
Annual Commercial Mortgage Survey
The CMLS Mortgage Analytics Group conducts market surveys to enhance market knowledge and transparency on areas such as size, segment analysis, and trends in the Canadian commercial mortgage market. Since inception in 2010, the surveys have grown to cover over 90% of the commercial mortgage market.
Central Bank has hiked key rate five times since summer of 2017
The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.75 per cent Wednesday, despite a few dark clouds appearing on Canada’s economic horizon.
The bank has raised its key rate five times since the summer of 2017, attempting to keep inflation in an acceptable range, typically between one and three per cent annually. The bank last raised its rate in October, before deciding to do nothing in December and then again today.
The bank’s rate affects consumers by raising or lowering the rates that Canadian borrowers and savers get for lines of credit, savings accounts, and variable-rate mortgages.
The bank also downgraded its expectations for Canada’s economy this year. A 25 percent plunge in the price of oil since October has had a “material impact” on the economy, to the point where the bank is now forecasting just 1.7 percent growth this year. Three months ago, it was expecting 2.1 percent growth.
But despite that slowdown, the bank still indicated it plans to raise the rate again sooner rather than later. “The policy interest rate will need to rise over time into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target,” the bank said.
At a press conference following the announcement, Poloz said the slowdown in the oil sector is acute, but so far the impact is being offset by strength elsewhere in the economy.
“By all of our readings, something like 90 percent of the economy is operating at capacity, having trouble finding workers, struggling to invest and to grow, and so on. So we have to pay a lot of attention to that, while at the same time acknowledging that the economy will always have the stresses of some form of something declining,” he said.
“There are a whole lot of other things … going on out there that are actually doing very well,” he said, adding that he expects the impact on overall GDP to be less than the oil slowdown in 2014 was because the energy sector isn’t as big a part of the Canadian economy anymore.
That sentiment buoyed the loonie, which gained about a third of a cent to 75.73 cents US after the decision came out.
Like just about every economist covering the bank, CIBC’s Avery Shenfeld wasn’t expecting the central bank to announce a hike on Wednesday, but he found the bank’s rationale for its decision interesting nonetheless.
“Its message today suggests that it isn’t quite as sure about when it will come off the sidelines and hike again,” he said.
Stephen Brown with Capital Economics had a slightly more subdued take.
“The bank continues to think that further interest rate hikes are necessary, despite a host of factors that are weighing on the outlook,” he said. “But if we’re right that oil and housing will be a bigger drag on growth than the bank expects, then further interest rate hikes are very unlikely and the odds of interest rate cuts will rise in the coming quarters.”
TD Bank economist Brian DePratto said that on the whole, the bank seems to be taking a cautious approach, but is still on a path to higher rates.
“The roller-coaster ride of the past few months has brought a note of greater caution to the Bank of Canada’s communications, and today’s decision looks to be an extension of that,” he said.
“Governor Poloz and company still see more rate hikes down the road, but aren’t in any great rush to get there.”
Pete Evans · CBC News ·
2018 forecast: New mortgage rules could be boon for investors
The new mortgage stress test, in addition to rapidly escalating housing prices, is keeping an increasing number of people in rental accommodations, and that’s good news for investors.
“A+” tenants—people with high incomes and good credit—used to rent for about a year before purchasing their own homes, which would repel investors, however, they’re becoming long-term renters.
“With the mortgage rules changing, what we used to consider an A+ tenant, who would usually
only stay in a rental unit for about a year and then move onto purchasing their own home, are now staying for two to four years on average,” said Crystal Ross, owner of Investors Property Management.
“It’s very good news if you’re an investor. Investors used to back away from A+ tenants because they’d have to find new tenant the following year. I think they’ve given up on the idea of owning a home and decided there’s comfort in being long-term tenant. They’ve accepted the lifestyle.”
Ross noted that the Greater Toronto Area housing market has normalized, but the new mortgage stress tests will remove about 40% of middle-income earners from the purchasing market. Coupled with a rental shortage in Toronto, they’re looking elsewhere.
“We’re seeing a lot of renters are willing to go outside big cities,” said Ross. “There is a lot of construction and building development being done on the outskirts of big cities, like Toronto and Hamilton.
Peopled aged 25-39 are increasingly putting roots down in smaller towns like Grimsby, Beamsville and St. Catharines.
That doesn’t mean Toronto’s condo market isn’t still the best real estate investment in the region.
“I think the condo market will remain strong because it’s the only market younger people can afford; it’s the first step to getting into the real estate market,” said Engel & Völkers Toronto Central’s Owner and Broker of Record, Anita Springate-Renaud. “Investors will buy them to rent them because there’s a shortage of rentals.”
Springate-Renaud is confident the market will assimilate the new mortgage rules and that market fundamentals, like the GTA being the fastest growing region on the continent, will carry the day.
Montreal has recently emerged as a hot market and Springate-Renaud says that will continue provided things don’t change.
“Montreal is still going up,” she said. “It was depressed for a long time and things would take
time to sell, but now it’s a hotter in-demand market. As long as the government stays stable and the separatists don’t win, it’s going to stay strong. Montreal is a great place, a fantastic city, and a lot of people are investing there as well. There’s surprisingly a lot of development going on.”
Interest rate hikes, plunging oil prices, unresolved U.S.-China trade tensions and an uncertain Brexit outcome are all factors lifting market volatility from its doldrums of the past face years. However, even as the stock market works through its fourth major rout this year, the CBOE Volatility Index has remained in line with its long-term historical norm this month. According to The New York Times, this period of volatility is likely to persist as the U.S. economy and financial markets become more vulnerable to risks including slowing global growth and higher domestic interests rates.
Back home, falling global oil prices and a wide discount to WTI crude has led to the worst pricing environment for Canadian oil in history. At the same time, the industry is at an impasse on how best to resolve the supply glut. Some producers are calling for mandated production cuts while refiners decry government intervention. Stalled pipeline projects continue to exacerbate the situation.
General Motor’s recently announced global restructuring plan signals a transformation in the auto industry towards electric and autonomous vehicles. While this industry shift has the potential to ripple across one of Canada’s key economic drivers, its impact will likely see some offset from increased capital expenditures. Auto manufacturers will need to repurpose and upgrade their facilities in order to adapt to shifting transportation demands. As well, the $14 billion in corporate tax cuts introduced by the federal government will be of particular benefit to Canadian manufacturers.
The prevailing risk-off mood of investors this month pushed Canadian bond yields down towards their September levels, igniting fresh concerns over the yield curve inverting and the economy being late in the cycle. During a recent presentation at the Toronto Real Estate Forum, two prominent economists called for an impending slowdown of the economy, through each argued for differing levels of its severity. Under either scenario, the need may weaken for the Bank of Canada’s projected interest rate increases in 2019.
Challenges may have risen in some sectors, but the Canadian tech industry continues to benefit from a strong and expanding tech employment base as reported in CBRE’s 2018 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent report. While Toronto still leads the country with top talent, significant growth has also been recorded across emerging markets from coast to coast.
Economic Highlights :
- Retail sales grew 0.2% in September with increases in six of the 11 subsectors
- Headline inflation rose 2.4% in October and the average Bank of Canada measures rose to 2.0%.
- The share of highly indebted households in Canada fell to 13% in Q2 2018 from 18% last year.
- Turbulent stock market is flashing a warning about the economy
- Trudeau unveils a $10.5 Billion in tax cuts to keep up with Trump
- Economists warn recession on the way: TREF
- 2018 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent
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- CMP spoke with Michel Durand in the space to find out what commercial brokers need to know to navigate a still evolving landscape.November 18, 2020 - 12:46 PM
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- New $100-million fund announced for investment in first mortgages in OntarioJuly 27, 2020 - 3:00 PM