The effects of months-long shutdowns and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been pervasive, and the effects have even been seen in real time in the software to help manage construction financing.
Built Technologies’ platform is designed for banks and other lending institutions to manage their relationships with construction borrowers. Built manages more than 32,000 construction loans in the U.S. and Canada, collectively worth nearly $20 billion. Built’s platform saw 7% of those loans impacted by COVID-19-related shutdowns and slowdowns implemented by states, cities and municipalities, primarily in the Northeast, California, Louisiana and the Midwest. Built is also documenting how these same regions rebound as construction restarts.
“What we’re seeing is general contractors, subcontractors and others in the chain of construction finance are returning to work at a very fast clip,” says Jim Fraser, Built’s director of construction real estate. “The markets are returning to some form of normalcy.” Fraser adds that the lenders that make up Built’s portfolio of users are not as skittish as some analysts forecast. “You see some scaredy-cat [lenders] saying they are getting out of construction, but that just allows the more aggressive shops to move in and take share.”
Even Built’s leadership team was surprised by the way lenders decided to stick it out in construction through the shutdowns.
“We expected a big drop-off in April and May in new activations, but neither have occurred,” he says, noting Built’s numbers line up with U.S. Census Bureau building permit data. “We expected a drop in our activation rate of 10%, but it was more like 4% or 5%. … Lenders right now are being cautious, but not risk averse.”