Lending block may soon get unclogged

March 23, 2009 6:53:43 PM PDT
The lynchpin of the government's economic rescue plan is to get credit flowing again. So the question is how soon will consumers and small business owners see greater access to borrowed money?

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It's the first ray of hope in months that the logjam will break that has kept buyers from qualifying for loans, even as home prices have dropped.

Quincy Virgilio is president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors and a mortgage broker.

"It'll be a chance for people with less than perfect credit to obtain financing. It'll be a chance for people with good credit -- not excellent credit but good credit -- to have access to funds as well," says Virgilio.

However, he says it may take 60 to 90 days before buyers will see an increase in lending activity.

Thirty-year loan rates on Monday were running at 4.75-percent plus fees for loans under $417,000, and 5.125-percent plus fees for loans between $417,000 and $729,000.

Car dealers say they're enthusiastic if banks will make it easier for customers to get credit. It may also help them with the loans they need to buy vehicles to fill their lots. However, dealer John Moore from Moore Buick-Pontiac-GMC, says the government may need to incentivize the banks to make more loans.

"We saw the first round of TARP money go into the banks and stay in the banks, and they weren't loaning it. So hopefully the ramifications and requirements that federal government will put on the banks this time will relate to us being able to provide financing for our customers," says Moore.

Finally, small businesses may also benefit. Many of them have had difficulty getting loans of $20,000 to $50,000.

"All of the tax returns and financials have come under heightened scrutiny, and with that when you see declining revenues, it's an automatic turndown," says Michael Ryan, a small business loan specialist.

ABC7 also talked to two major Bay Area banks on Monday, but neither one could comment without knowing all the details of the Treasury Department's plan.

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