CBRE Survey: Real Estate Lenders Will Be More Cautious in 2021, But Capital Will Remain Abundant

27 Nov 2020

Hotels, malls and office properties to get closer scrutiny even though 94% of lenders say they plan to increase their real estate loan book in the coming year


A new CBRE annual survey reveals that transactions requiring financing in 2021 will be greeted with more caution in the wake of the pandemic and changing business and consumer preferences. Debt capital for real estate will remain abundant albeit more targeted in nature.

Despite the current economic environment, very few lenders are looking to decrease their real estate lending allocations in 2021, according to CBRE’s Canadian Real Estate Lenders’ Report, which analyzes responses of both domestic and foreign lenders to a 33-question survey. The survey is intended to gauge lender confidence in commercial real estate and offer insights for borrowers on what to expect as they look to access financing for real estate investments.

“2020 has been a highly disruptive year and the real estate lending market was no exception,” said Carmin Di Fiore, Executive Vice President of CBRE's Debt and Structured Finance team. “Some property outlooks went unaffected while others are in flux and it may take some time before a new normal is established. However, lenders have belief in the overall prospects for real estate in Canada and remain committed to providing a liquid and sensibly capitalized financing environment going forward.”

Here are three key takeaways from the 2020 Lenders’ Report:

1. Capital availability is unimpaired: Our survey shows that 57.1% of lenders are looking to maintain their existing real estate lending allocations, with 40.0% aiming to further increase allocations in 2021. In terms of absolute dollars deployed, no lenders were planning to decrease their amount of real estate lending capital in 2021.

2. Property type matters: Lenders are significantly more concerned about hotels, regional malls located in secondary markets and entertainment and food services locations. Core office properties, typically favoured by lenders, have now become a point of debate as work-from-home policies test the future of the workplace. On the other end of the spectrum, purpose-built rental apartments, industrial properties and grocery-anchored retail are equally ranked as the property types in which lenders have nearly complete confidence.

Top Three Property Types with Most Lender Concern

  1. Hotels – 77% of lenders expressed concern, up 51.1% from 2019.
  2. Regional Malls (Secondary Markets) – 74%, up 15.6% from 2019.
  3. Retail (Entertainment & Food Services) – 69%, up 29.4% from 2019.

Top Three Property Types with Least Lender Concern

  1. Purpose-Built Apartments – 3% of lenders expressed concern, up 0.7% from 2019
  2. Industrial – 3%, down 1.5% from 2019.
  3. Retail (Grocery Anchored) – 3%, down 8.0% from 2019.

3. Major markets shine: When it comes to geographies, lenders reported their strongest appetites for transactions in the Greater Toronto Area, followed by Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa. Capital availability is expected to be tight yet again for Alberta as the region continues to deal with a beleaguered energy sector. For most lenders, real estate financing in Calgary and Edmonton would be dependent on the type of deal or specific relationship with the lender.

Top Five Cities for Lending - % Strong Willingness to Lend:

  1. Greater Toronto – 74.3%, down 4.0% from 2019.
  2. Vancouver – 60.0%, up 10.0% from 2019.
  3. Montreal – 51.4%, up 5.7% from 2019.
  4. Ottawa-Gatineau – 45.7%, down 6.5% from 2019.
  5. Waterloo Region – 22.9%, down 1.0% from 2019.

Download our 2020 Canadian Real Estate Lenders’ Report .

2020 Canadian Real Estate Lenders’ Report


About CBRE Group, Inc.
CBRE Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBRE), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Dallas, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2021 revenue). The company has more than 105,000 employees (excluding Turner & Townsend employees) serving clients in more than 100 countries. CBRE serves a diverse range of clients with an integrated suite of services, including facilities, transaction and project management; property management; investment management; appraisal and valuation; property leasing; strategic consulting; property sales; mortgage services and development services. Please visit our website at

In Canada, CBRE Limited employs 2,200 people in 22 locations from coast to coast. Please visit our website at