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Custom builders, banks convene to discuss lending environment

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The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis is trying to jump-start new home construction by convening a forum of builders and lenders this Thursday, March 18, to discuss how builders can adapt to banks’ stricter lending requirements.

In attendance will be University of Indianapolis economist Dr. Matthew Will, 40 custom builders and representatives from First Place Bank, First Internet Bank, Huntington Bank and Union Savings Bank.

Steve Lains, CEO of the Builders Association, said his group believes the economy has hit bottom for builders and that there’s now an opportunity to help them recover by exploring how builders and lenders can interact in the future.

Since the onset of the recession, many builders have suffered because of both lack of demand from buyers and lack of access to capital as banks clamped down on lending.

At the conference, “builders and lenders will talk about a new paradigm of development,” Lains said. “Land equity might not be what builders rely upon in the future,” he said. Lains foresees more reliance on sources of private equity and situations where builders partner on projects.

Joe Gradison, a partner in Gradison Building Corp., said his firm typically builds between four and eight high-end homes per year on the north side of Indianapolis. That number is down by about half, but the company has compensated, in part, by doing some major remodeling projects.

Gradison said his firm is confident it can get financing once demand rebounds.

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  • why?
    Steve Lains and BAGI should start thinking about urban infill opportunities instead of trying to prop up the McMansion sprawl paradigm. Progressive lenders are starting to understand the synergies and benefits of urban development, and the risks of lending for old-school, suburban sprawl development. BAGI and their members would do well to re-align around an urban approach or TOD rather than giant single-family custom homes. Lenders are starting to recognize the value of energy efficiency and location efficiency. BAGI and the builders should respond accordingly.

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