This year is marked by a cautious eye on the commercial real estate recovery process, where a comeback is coming—albeit slowly. We went to two area professionals to ask their opinion on the local market and whether or not access to commercial loans has improved. Keeping the difficulties in mind—most importantly—we also asked what advice they can give to business owners looking to expand and push through to the other side of this recovery.
Thomas X. Geisel (pictured, left)
President & CEO, Sun National Bank
“Improvement in the South Jersey commercial real estate market lags behind that which we’ve seen in other parts of the state, mainly because economic recovery here has been slower, but it is definitely getting better. When critical economic factors, such as unemployment, show solid signs of improvement here in South Jersey, we will then see parallel progress in the local commercial real estate market. [In the meantime,] sustain and grow your business by thinking bigger; look for ways to identify customers outside your current client base, sell products/services outside typical channels, and/or expand your market area beyond New Jersey. And don’t go it alone: Seek the counsel and collaboration of valued advisors (banker, attorney, accountant) who can serve as informed partners in planning and achieving growth.”
Peter Bertram (pictured, right)
Senior Vice President and Director of Lending, Century Savings Bank
“In general, the demand for new commercial real estate projects continues to be significantly depressed, and we have not observed any marked improvement in this area within the past six months. However, we have seen that community banks in our service area are eager to provide commercial financing for new ventures, and there is competition among the local banks to finance the available projects. As to advice for businesses looking to expand, now is an excellent time to consider such plans. Interest rates are at record lows and many banks have excess reserves available to lend to creditworthy customers. The economy has been slowly gaining momentum and there are opportunities for controlled and well-planned expansion. A key to financing business growth is having a strong relationship with your bank lender, and access to the bank’s key decision makers.”
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 4 (April, 2013).
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