WeWork’s failed path to its IPO may be bad news for the commercial real estate world as there are increased chances that the company could default on many of its building leases, leaving landlords scrambling to pick up the pieces.
WeWork has $47 billion of lease obligations that stretch over the next 15 years and a Harvard Business School report found that in 2020, the company’s lease and cash obligations come to around $2.3 billion a year.
Buildings that have WeWork taking up 20% to 30% of a building have the greatest risk as they may need to re-lease the space very soon. While buildings in good locations may not have trouble doing this, it will still likely come at a big loss due to re-tenant costs and other re-leasing expenses.
Some even expect We to file for bankruptcy as soon as next year as more investors continue to pull out of deals with the company.
Despite its struggle to stay afloat after being widely shunned from the tech world, WeWork may come out as a winner. Its fall from grace led the company to oust co-founder Adam Neumann as CEO, as well as announce major layoffs and a change in corporate governance. If it plays its cards right, WeWork may be able to reconstruct its business model and avoid bankruptcy.
Still, the general consensus is that there is a much greater risk for landlords who have WeWork as a significant tenant. However, flexible office supply still only accounts for under 2% of total U.S. office stock, so WeWork’s demise may not be catastrophic to the overall market.