OKLAHOMA CITY-Area experts believe Oklahoma City and much of the state, for that matter, has been well-insulated from economic problems devastating other states. These experts tell GlobeSt.com, however, that it doesn’t mean pain won’t seep into the region during 2009.

“We’ve been fortunate so far,” notes Mark Beffort, managing director with Grubb & Ellis/Levy Beffort in Oklahoma City. “We haven’t seen any downsizing…yet. We haven’t seen any bankruptcies…yet. We haven’t seen a lot of space get put back on the market through sublease. We haven’t seen a lot of shadow space.”

But the good fortune could be short-lived into the next year, Beffort continues. “We anticipate all of these things to be visible,” he notes. “But to what extent, we just don’t know yet.”

Sperry Van Ness managing director Tim Strange agreed with the idea that a slowdown is in the cards for the next year. “I picked up a paper the other day and saw three development projects with a residential component that were put on hold,” comments Strange, who is with Sperry Van Ness’ Oklahoma City office. “There was a sale of some buildings in the Bricktown area last week, and an auction the week before. Neither got the minimum bids.”

Still Oklahoma City has lucked out in a few areas, one involving financing. In the wake of fallen institutional giants, the majority of financing is coming from local or regional banks. Strange says investors, brokers and others are also getting more creative in the financing area. “We’re trying to do deals in which sellers will take a first, or second mortgage,” he comments. “We’re even looking at some true bartering with equity for land or equity for something else.”

In addition, while energy and oil are the driving forces behind the Oklahoman economy, the capital city has…the state capital. “The state government is here,” Strange points out. “Tinker Air Force Base and the FAA training center is here. We have a couple of buffers, thanks to all of that.”

Even with the buffers, troubled assets are starting to enter the market. Strange says in a recent Sperry Van Ness conference call, one broker said he’s working on two kinds of deals. “He’s working on the deal that’s bullet-proof, with a good credit tenant in a triple-net lease and about as close to a government-bond deal as you can get,” Strange says. “And the other deal, the bullet-ridden one, involving the seller who absolutely has to sell, due to a note coming due, default or other reason.” The bullet-proof and bullet-ridden deals will likely be the ones coming online in the near future, he adds.

Beffort tells GlobeSt.com there is some financing available for small to mid-range projects, those between less than a million dollars to $10 million. “If you’re interested in getting a 110% recourse loan with marginal credit, then you’re out of luck. It’s not there,” he says. “But if you have a good-quality asset with a good-credit tenant, you can find the funding.”

Strange predicts that, while velocity isn’t likely to be as high in 2009 has it has been in previous years, the outlook isn’t bleak. The local oil and gas people are convinced the current price drop is temporary, and once President-Elect Barack Obama takes the oath and the first 100 days of his presidency passes by with a clear direction, things will bounce back.

Beffort adds that, while the Obama Administration will add some confidence and clarity to the market, changes won’t occur overnight. “One of my clients said the other day you don’t go broke overnight,” he says. “It takes time to happen. We’re not going to fix the current issues we’re going through immediately. The process will take time.”

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