Lending for real estate financing is picking up a little this year after being nearly dormant in 2010, but the terms and conditions are much tougher than before the recession. That was perhaps the most significant take-home point from the Trends in Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate seminar this morning. “Our banks are out there again, but they’re kind of sticking their toes in the water cautiously,” says Brian Andrews of Andrews Commercial Real Estate Services. Lenders prefer to look at existing projects with good histories and are looking closely at the global cash flow and past of the project’s sponsors. Conduit lenders are starting to come back; however, those lenders are not expected to be active in the Baton Rouge market for some time. One potential source of funding for projects is the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, which is now up and running, with financing for projects that will benefit the city’s core neighborhoods, says Mark Goodson, vice president of the authority.
The Trends event provides Realtors with the latest data from local experts about what is going on in the main segments of the real estate market: residential, retail, multi-family, office, industrial and finance. In the apartment market, Wesley Moore of Cook, Moore & Associates, says the vacancy rates and rental increases are returning to historical norms. Moore says the glut of apartments that was built post-Hurricane Katrina has been absorbed and the vacancy rate was about 6.9% in the fall. At the same time, the average rent rose by 1.8% from fall 2009. Moore says there is still economic uncertainty because of the state’s fiscal picture and concerns about a loss of government jobs. —David Jacobs