Large national lenders became hesitant to fund certain types of construction projects in 2017. It seems that bankers have steadily lost the nerve to fund construction projects with a little risk involved, leaving many small businesses in need of extra cash.
Lenders haven’t abandoned construction altogether, however, they’ve just become more picky. Many simply don’t want to work with new clients. “They have made a lot of construction loans through the cycle and to add one more to the queue right now is probably not what they are looking to do,” says Jeff Erxleben, executive vice president at NorthMarq Capital.
Banks appetites vary by asset type and geographic market. Industrial projects have remained particularly strong among big lenders. Multifamily construction, on the other hand, not so much. This is likely due to the recent surge in multifamily construction projects. Just last year, the number of apartments completed in the U.S. hit a 30-year high of 395,775 units—more than double the long-term average. This led many lenders to speculate that multifamily housing projects would soon be in decline.
Also in decline last year was retail. More than 6,700 stores were shuttered during the retail apocalypse, causing many lenders to shy away from new retail construction.
As big banks have slashed support to many construction projects, marketplace lenders have come to the rescue. Experts speculate that marketplace lenders will be in the forefront of lending growth this year. In fact, new marketplace loan volume is expected to be $38.9 billion this year, an increase of 46% above 2017 numbers. Exponential growth in marketplace lending will be a serious boost for startups that have been left high and dry by big banks.
While stingy bankers aren’t good news for any young entrepreneur, at least lending innovators who share the entrepreneurial spirit have taken up the cause. It’s probably safe to say that 2018 will be another great year of small business growth.