WisBusiness: Bankers see weakening economy but uptick in mortgage activity

By WisBusiness staff

In a new survey, state bankers say low interest rates will spur a modest uptick in new and refinanced residential mortgages during the first six months of 2009. But overall, a majority of bankers rate the Wisconsin economy as just “fair” and 90 percent believe conditions are still weakening.

Those results are from the latest edition of the twice-yearly economic conditions survey the Wisconsin Bankers Association conducts of its members.

Respondents see demand for other benchmark lending categories — including commercial loans and real estate development loan — dropping between January and June 2009. And 54 percent of survey respondents say commercial loan demand will drop. Reflecting weakness in the housing sector, 66 percent of bank CEOs say real estate development loan demand will also drop.

About half of bank CEOs report that their institution has tightened lending standards due to regulatory pressure or to preserve capital.

The other half say they haven’t changed lending standards, but also say that fewer businesses qualify for loans as a result of the economic downturn.