It Ain't Flashy, But Lending Is Growing
We prodded and coerced, trying to get Regents Bank president Steve Sefton to reveal an extreme plan for lending, now that the economy is driving demand for new commercial space. The best we could get out of him? "Controlled ascension." That's probably why he's still in business.
Steve (here with wife Lori in Italy) expects about 10% real estate lending volume growth for his bank this year. He's uncomfortable growing much faster for fear of a bubble. The (eventual) prospect of higher interest rates is driving some of that activity, but mostly it's steady growth in the local economy. Although that makes some people pessimistic, Steve says his clients’ sales, profits, hiring, and investment are doing well, pushing the demand for new space.
Overall locally, Steve says, bank lending is up for commercial real estate, and companies are borrowing in higher amounts. You can thank increased construction, and San Diego has a lot of that on the horizon, both downtown and beyond. Recently Regents originated a $2M SBA 504 loan for purchase and upgrades to an owner-occupied San Diego-area industrial building, the kind of bread-and-butter lending that’s been steadily rising. Also, life companies are changing their lending patterns, Steve says; not so long ago, they wouldn’t consider anything less than $10M.