CRE W Minnesota

BankFinancial ready to become key player in Twin Cities' apartment market

Bryan Haines

BankFinancial is making a push in the Minneapolis/St. Paul multi-family market, a market that is still booming.

The Twin Cities' apartment market is a strong one, with developers targeting the downtown hearts of St. Paul and Minneapolis for a variety of new multi-family projects.

The challenge for many developers? It can still be a challenge to obtain financing for multi-family projects.

Fortunately, developers in the Twin Cities have another option for financing: BankFinancial.

Bryan Haines, vice president of Wholesale Commercial Lending for BankFinancial, told Minnesota Real Estate Journal that his company is now ramping up its apartment lending in the Twin Cities. This means that developers have another real choice as they search for the dollars they need to bring new multi-family projects to the Twin City.

"BankFinancial has been doing apartment lending in Minnesota and the Twin Cities for seven years," Haines said. "People, though, were doing it remotely from Chicago. I've been hired to be on the ground here in Minneapolis. We now have a physical presence in the Twin Cities. I've lived here my entire life. I've worked for banks in the Twin Cities for the last 16 years. I know this market, and I'm eager to make an impact in it."

Haines began working with BankFinancial in late 2013. Since then, he's steadily built the relationshps that he says will help his company make its mark in the Twin Cities' apartment market.

Haines points to a recent Minnesota Wild hockey game he attended at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. While there, he noticed that the man sitting next to him was an apartment broker for CBRE. He and the broker had a long conversation about the Twin Cities' multi-family market.

This, Haines says, is one of the primary benefits of having a physical presence in the Twin Cities.

"BankFinancial wouldn't have had that conversation a year or two ago when I wasn't on the ground here," Haines said. "We want to make sure that BankFinancial is what is being talked about out there. When conversations about apartment lending come up, we want to be at the forefront."

Haines began his financial career in 1997, when he went to work at an area bank. It was at his second stop, a community bank in Minnesota, that he got his first taste of commercial lending. In 2001, he moved on to InterBank, where he opened a new branch office for the company.

Eventually, after moving up the corporate ladder, InterBank officials asked Haines to develop the bank's commercial lending portfolio.

When Haines started working on the bank's commercial division, it was a small department, just him and a loan assistant.

"We did everything," Haines said. "We started doing small apartment lending, too. I got a taste of apartment lending. And I enjoyed the work."

When Haines first started with InterBank's commercial division, it was doing about $17 million or so of commercial loans. By the time Haines left, the bank was now closing about $150 million or $160 million of commercial loans.

Haines is now excited about building BankFinancial's apartment lending business in Minneapolis/St. Paul. And he's especially excited about working in a multi-family market that is today thriving.

"Depending on what periodical you look at, our market will be ranked second or it might be ranked fourth. It depends on their criteria, but everyone agrees that our market is one of the strongest," Haines said. "There is a shortage of multi-family units available today. There is new product coming on. But still, the vacancy rate in the Twin Cities multi-family market will be well below the national average. Our unemployment rate, our economy and our workforce are all positives. It makes the perfect mix for having a strong asset base."

Haines said that the big push he is making on behalf of BankFinancial is already paying off.

"The brokers are aware of us," he said. "They are talking to me about potential deals. When deals come up, I am in the conversation. People are learning about us. They are getting to know me better."