I am writing from San Diego, the site of the Mortgage Bankers Association 2009 Commercial Real Estate Finance Conference. Notwithstanding song lyrics to the contrary, it DOES rain in Southern California. It is a gloomy day outside, and the mood inside is not much different.
Common themes at the conference include the loss of lenders, the dismal outlook for the national economy for the rest of 2009 and the lack of certainty for the future. Attendance is down 50% from previous years as lenders have cut back on these sorts of functions. The missing faces tell a bigger story. This industry is contracting and probably has a long way to go.
One bright spot is that most lenders feel that the bottom is not far off, meaning that loan sources might start opening up in the not-too-distant future, at least in some parts of the country. Hopefully some of those sources will come to Louisiana.
The problem is many of the national lenders are still unfamiliar with Louisiana, despite our avoidance of the misery being experienced in other states. One offered that he had been to Kentucky, thinking that a bond would be created. He was wrong. Another recalled that our laws were odd. “Written in Latin, aren’t they?” he asked. He also was wrong.
One real estate appraiser just threw a foam football at me. “I am so bored,” he confesses, and I am unsure if he means that he is bored at this conference or that his business is down from previous years. I suspect it is a little of both.
I love San Diego and enjoy my time here, but it is too cloudy here this week, too much doom and gloom for my taste. I’m heading back to the sunshine in southern Louisiana where there is good news and a brighter outlook.
(Brian Andrews is a certified mortgage banker specializing in the financing of commercial real estate. His business is Andrews Commercial Mortgage and he can be reached at email@example.com.)