Owners of properties that housed both households and businesses suffered painful losses that pushed the industry's financial backers -- investors and lenders -- to the sidelines.
From a near freeze mid-recession in 2008-09, investment real estate initially slowly rebounded. But over the past year or two, as the overall business climate nudged forward, a novel concept has emerged in the world of big property ownership -- lenders actually lending.
One further sign: A growing Midwest and
Bellwether is in growth mode, on target to hit
In as soon as two years, Huffman says Bellwether hopes to be lending
"The Midwest has always been good to us. Not too many ups, and not too many downs. But you don't see the growth you see on the coasts," Huffman says.
Bellwether's key business is a niche that has been investment real estate's darling during the recovery: lending for multi-family housing. That is roughly half of Bellwether's loan activity. Lending on retail property is the other major chunk.
Huffman says apartment owners are in a good spot as the typical house shopper struggles with ownership affordability and more households see rental living as a viable lifelong option.
"Multi-family is the favored property today," Huffman says of investor's appetites. "I don't see anything on the horizon that will change that. We think the rental market is here to stay for a long time."
Bellwether has an unusual tie to the apartment business. It's owned by
That charitable hook was a reason Brooks decided to join Bellwether. "I wanted to do something that made a difference," he says.
Bellwether will start its
Brooks says Bellwether's Midwestern values will find an audience in the often wild and competitive
Says Brooks: "We think the timing is terrific to do rational lending to rational owners."
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