WFH crushing office building prices

The shift to remote work threatens to take an $800 billion dollar bite out of global office values by 2030, according to McKinsey Global Institute. The estimate is based on a 26% drop in property values compared to 2019 as vacancy rates rise, but the consulting giant says the fall could be as high as 42%. The trajectory of interest rates are expected to determine the depth of the declines. McKinsey suggests buildings that serve multiple uses could help developers adapt to a new reality.

  • Office rents have already dropped28% in San Francisco and 18% in New York, while European cities such as Paris and London have held relatively steady.


By Jessy Bains, Editor at LinkedIn News

Join YouTube banner

Remote work risks wiping $800 billion from value of office buildings in major cities: Report


A worker uses a desktop computer whilst working from home. (Image: Bloomberg)
A worker uses a desktop computer whilst working from home. (Image: Bloomberg)

A report by McKinsey Global Institute has said that remote work risks wiping $800 billion from the value of office buildings in major cities, highlighting the potential losses that landlords are facing from post-pandemic changes in employment trends.

As per the report, Covid-19’s push toward hybrid work has driven the need for office space down with vacancy rates rising. The report by McKinsey modeled the impact on valuations by 2030 in nine cities globally.

The estimate for $800 billion in valuation losses represents a 26 percent decline compared to levels in 2019, with the blow at risk of deepening to as much as 42 percent, the consultancy firm said.

“The impact on value could be even greater if rising interest rates compound it,” it said. The bearing “could increase if troubled financial institutions decide to more quickly reduce the price of property they finance or own.”

McKinsey’s model is offering a window on how property owners and lenders are grappling with the changes in where people work in the wake of the pandemic. The shift is also affecting the value of retail and residential real estate as people’s new habits influence where they shop and live.

In a moderate scenario, the report said that the demand for office space will be 13 percent lower by the end of the decade. Attendance still is 30 percent lower than what it was before the pandemic and only 37 percent of people are back at the office every day, it said.

Foot traffic near stores in metropolitan areas remains 10 percent to 20 percent below pre-pandemic levels, McKinsey said.

Lower office attendance has driven down asking rents in real terms. US cities have generally seen sharper drops, with San Francisco and New York City showing declines of 28 percent and 18 percent respectively, while European centers such as Paris, London and Munich have been more resilient.

The trend is set to continue with more employers downsizing space to reduce costs as soon as long-term leases come to an end.

“Some tenants have chosen not to wait for their renewal dates and instead have bought their way out of long-term contracts,” McKinsey said.

Developers can adapt to the declining demand for office and retail space through the creation of hybrid buildings whose design and infrastructure could be modified to serve different uses, McKinsey says. Implementing flexible solutions, such as incorporating versatile office fitouts, enables seamless modifications to the space, aligning it with evolving needs and maximizing its utility for different functions.

Such designs “would protect owners from shifts in preferences that are impossible to predict now,” the report said. Also, “because tenants will now be moving in and out more frequently, buildings might become more valuable if they grow more adaptable.”


Edited By Karishma Pranav Bhavsar ( with inputs from Bloomberg )

Comments are closed.