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PORTLAND-Luther Barker, a vice president with U.S. Bank in Portland who works specifically with real estate developers, didn’t mince words. “We have the potential of slipping into first recession in a long time,” he told GlobeSt.com last week. “Those not already in the ground with something are sitting on their hands, and the banks are scrutinizing deals more. Construction lending is pretty much on hold right now.”

Would-be borrowers have to demonstrate that there is cash flow beyond what is being financed to handle things that may happen, like cost overruns and pro forma shortfalls, a departure from years gone by when banks just underwrote real estate. “Everybody still has a ton of money to lend, but everybody is very concerned about the investment,” Barker tells GlobeSt.com. “‘Many are called but few are chosen’ is a good battle cry for right now.”

Office deals are scrutinized more than most, he says, with banks requiring very low loan-to-value ratios and requiring strong sponsorship in the form of strong preleasing and big financial statements. The hotel lending market is also pretty bad right now, with banks requiring “an extraordinary story” to give serious funding consideration.

Retail is also going to be more heavily scrutinized, while industrial and multifamily are still considered very fundable. “Dot-coms don’t vacate 20-foot-clear space with dock-high doors,” says Barker, and with multifamily “there is a very deep permanent loan market with the agencies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).”

As for rates, construction lending rates and other short term loans are all tied to LIBOR, which is at historically low levels, “so everything is in the 6% range,” says Barker. “Long-term fixed, that’s closer to 7%-plus.”

Along with U.S. Bank, some of the area’s biggest construction lenders are, as expected, Wells Fargo, Key Bank, Bank One, Washington Mutual and Bank of America. Some of the long-term fixed loans, meanwhile, are done by the community banks, such as Southern Bank of Umpqua, West Coast Bank and Centennial Bank.

As for rumors that lenders are adding new conditions to loan terms following the attacks, such as increased insurance on the property, Barker says “we’ve not started doing that, and I have not heard of it being done.”

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