The pandemic has left many businesses facing financial hardships. Stay-at-home orders, capacity limitations and other guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 have negatively impacted our economy. Many businesses have had their revenues substantially reduced and have struggled to remain current with their expenses, including rent, which is causing landlords to fall short on commercial mortgage payments.
According to a survey taken by The Main Street Alliance at the end of June, approximately 60 percent of its members had delayed or reduced their rent payments in the past four months. The coronavirus outbreak has caused a chain reaction that has negatively impacted business owners as well as owners of commercial real estate, consumers and our communities. Many lenders and landlords understand that the majority of businesses are struggling to make ends meet so they are going above and beyond to keep business tenants in their properties with hopes that as the economy reopens, businesses can begin trending toward normal activity and revenue levels. Working with tenants is not just good for the businesses, it is also important for the owners of the commercial real estate. In the current economic conditions, it’s unlikely businesses will look to increase their physical footprint so it’s critical to keep current tenants in place.
With so much uncertainty, having strong relationships between business tenants, landlords and lenders are more crucial than ever. At Univest, one of the 18 fundamentals that are the foundation of our culture is Invest in Relationships. Our focus is to be a true partner for our customers. Right now that means providing guidance and strategies to help them through these unprecedented challenges. We know that our efforts can be a lifeline to small business owners, their employees and our communities.
The Univest Family has responded to these trying times and learned to serve our customers in a different way than we’ve ever had to before. During the last four months, we offered assistance to our business and consumer customers who were negatively impacted by the pandemic in the form of deferrals, modifications and waived fees and we continue to reassess those needs as the crisis continues. Additionally, we were one of the first banks in the market taking applications and approving loans through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We were able to process and gain approval for more than 2,500 loans totaling approximately $510 million. Having a close working relationship with customers helped facilitate the success of the PPP program and resulted in securing funds for 93 percent of our applicants.
Though we have been able to help many customers keep the doors to their businesses open, and our hope is that PPP loans will provide a financial bridge to companies as the economy reopens, we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s important to keep an open line of communication, especially during a crisis. Business owners should consider working closely with their financial institutions to strategize and create a plan to ensure needs are being met by all parties involved. While no one knows what the economy will look like in coming months if cases of COVID-19 begin to surge again, one thing they can be certain about is that a strong relationship with their financial institution will put them in the best position to move forward. In times of financial hardship, it’s important to have a trusted advisor to counsel you through, taking into consideration your short- and long-term plans. To get answers to any questions you may have or to discuss options, please reach out to your relationship manager or contact us at 877-723-5571.
Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC, Equal Housing, Opportunity and SBA Preferred Lender.