Commercial Real Estate (CRE) Momentum Index

Commercial real estate (CRE) is a part of everyday life for individuals, businesses, and even cities. For individuals, commercial real estate touches everything from where they work and shop to where they live and visit for entertainment. For businesses, commercial real estate can be the office or shop where they operate, or it can represent an investment, a business platform, or a source of income. For cities, commercial real estate investment can attract new residents, make space for new businesses, and improve the local area.

These varied interests in commercial real estate create many influences on market dynamics. To make this information easier to comprehend, the Atlanta Fed developed a CRE Momentum Index. The Index provides a time series analysis of numerous market dynamics which are aggregated to help users understand the momentum of change in commercial real estate markets across the country. Currently, the majority of deep analysis on commercial real estate requires a paid subscription and is not widely available, so this tool gives deeper analysis to the public compared to other* publicly available commercial real estate market analysis tools.

The CRE Momentum Index originated from internal analysis in the Supervision, Regulation, and Credit Division used for bank examinations. The Index has been redesigned and expanded to include more than 300 individual markets and more than 20 total variables. The tool provides an index for the four major property sectors—multifamily, office, retail, and industrial—as well as an overall market index that combines the four individual indices into one all-encompassing index. Sharing this information more broadly allows our risk analysis team to transmit its view of commercial real estate market conditions and highlight where risks may be emerging.

The contribution of this tool lies at the intersection of four important factors: (1) it provides a broad analysis for many markets across the United States; (2) it offers a historical view and frequent data updates for recent data (monthly); (3) it incorporates variables that capture multiple sides of commercial real estate dynamics; and (4) the information is publicly available.

*Publicly available market analyses similar to this includes "Cycle Monitor—Real Estate Market Cycles," Dr. Glenn Mueller/Black Creek Group.

Explore the data

How the tool works

Navigation

The tabs across the top of the tool show different views of the index and related information.

  • Reading the Index: This view provides a brief demonstration of how to read and interpret the tool with examples from the Atlanta retail market.
  • Market Rankings: This view identifies the 10 markets with the strongest upward momentum and the 10 markets with the strongest downward momentum for a selected property sector.
  • U.S. Map: This view gives a snapshot of the indices of the entire United States for the most recent quarter.
  • CRE Momentum Index: This view displays the Index for a user-selected market and property type. Below the market index are color blocks for the underlying variables driving the overall market index.
  • Market Snapshot: This view displays the market indices of the four property sectors side by side, as well as an overall CRE index for the market.
  • Variable Descriptions: This view provides the definitions of each variable used in the tool.

Reading the index

The market index is a weighted aggregation of the subsequent variables which were identified by subject matter experts as important drivers for the dynamics in the selected property sector. There are two key pieces to the index:

  • Color: A color of a particular variable is determined by its relation to the long-term average of that variable. Orange hues indicate a value above the average ("upward") and blue hues indicate a value below the average ("downward"). Green hues reflect data that are in line with the long-term average. This shows the direction of momentum.
  • Shade: The deepness of the color (darker versus lighter hues of a color) represents the variable's fluctuation, as measured by deviation in the variable over time. Deeper colors reflect higher deviation and, therefore, greater market volatility. This shows the strength of momentum.

Begin with the market index at the top of the tool and review the variables within the same column as the index block for the desired time period (for example, the quarter-to-date data is in the farthest-right column). Using the two pieces of the index, direction (color) and strength (shade), users can explore the variables that most significantly impacted the overall market momentum shift from one time period to another.

The first section of color blocks shows a quarterly time series of the past two years, up to the most recent quarter. The section of single-color blocks on the right side of the CRE Momentum Index view reflects the quarter-to-date index (as of the date shown at the top of the column). Given lags in data reporting, only those variables with data for the specified time period are shown. This gives an inside look at market trends since the end of the previous quarter, indicating the direction of a particular variable as it unfolds.

Index interpretation

Understanding the index

In addition to the color palette, there is a hover feature in the tool. Hovering a cursor over any color block will show the market name, property type, variable (if applicable), index value (for the market only), and standard deviation.

The market index values at the top of the CRE Momentum Index view represent a weighted aggregation of the key variables identified beneath the values at the top. For the Market Snapshot view, the market CRE index is an evenly weighted sum (average) of the four property types.

The market index values on the CRE Momentum Index, Market Snapshot, U.S. Map, and Market Rankings views can range from 0 to ± over 100 (extreme case); the color legend ranges from -30 to +30. These values (-30 to + 30) represent an overall deviation in market fundamentals considered to be within "typical" market fluctuations; these fluctuations reflect changes that are considered "business as usual" (see the Technical Details for the statistical explanation).

The standard deviation shows how far the most recent data point is from the long-term average. Given the number of data points within the tool, the following distribution (a normal distribution) can be assumed for each variable. The standard deviation value as well as the color provide a clear distinction between the current data point and the market's long-term average.

chart showing standard deviations

Index values that are at or outside the ± 30 threshold will visually cue heightened deviation and, therefore, greater market volatility, as noted in the Reading the Index section above. The closer an index value is to 0, the closer it is to a particular variable's long-term average trend.

Technical details

Data specifics

  • Market definitions are matched to the OMB 18-03 list of all metropolitan areas, excluding Puerto Rico.
  • There are 391 markets in the tool. Please note that some data may be missing for some markets, particularly the smaller markets, as data coverage is not always consistent. If a variable is missing, the value is set to 0 in the market index calculation.
  • Population at the metropolitan-area level is reported annually. Exponential smoothing over the past 1.5 years was used to get an estimate up to the most recent quarter.
  • Statistically, the values of the color legend (± 30 are the endpoints) represent an overall deviation in market fundamentals of 1.5 standard deviations from the mean (either above or below). A value of 1.5 standard deviations is generally considered a position of a high probability of either significantly below or above average performance. This is comparable to either the 7th or 93rd percentile rank.

Data sources

This tool relies on the following data inputs*

CRE Momentum Index Input

Description

Source**

Business bankruptcies

Metro-level, monthly

U.S. District Courts

Construction forecast

Metro-level, quarterly/monthly

CoStar

Homeownership rates

State- and metro-level, quarterly, not seasonally adjusted

U.S. Census Bureau (BOC): Table 7

Mortgage rates

State-level, quarterly, not seasonally adjusted

U.S. FHFA: Terms & Rates on Conventional Mortgages

Nonstore/total retail sales

Metro-level, quarterly

U.S. Census Bureau (BOC)

Occupancy rate and trend

Metro-level, quarterly/monthly

CoStar

Office using employment level and growth

Metro-level, quarterly

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Current Employment Statistics

Population growth

Metro-level, annual (quarterly estimates from Moody's Analytics)

U.S. Census Bureau (BOC): Population Estimates

Rent growth

Metro-level, quarterly/monthly

CoStar

Retail sales growth

Metro-level, quarterly

U.S. Census Bureau (BOC)

Transportation and warehousing employment growth

Metro-level, monthly

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Current Employment Statistics

Vacancy rate and trend

Metro-level, quarterly/monthly

CoStar

*See the Variable Descriptions tab in the tool for definitions for the tool variables.
**Economic data extracted from Moody's Analytics Data Buffet platform

Frequently asked questions

How are the variables weighted within each property sector?

The Atlanta Fed's commercial real estate subject matter experts used experience and analysis to determine appropriate weighting for each variable in the broader market index. These weights are considered proprietary information to the Atlanta Fed and therefore are not shared explicitly in the tool.

What are the numeric values of the data? Why can't I see them?

Due to contractual obligations with our data providers, we are not able to share the underlying data. Any public data, which can be found under the heading "Data sources" in the Technical Details section above, can be explored through the providers' websites.

Key contacts

Brian Bailey, CRE, CCIM
Subject Matter Expert—Commercial Real Estate

Lauren Terschan
Senior Data Analytics and Real Estate Specialist