Commercial banks have experienced an increase in demand for commercial real estate loans since October, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Monday afternoon.

The January survey of senior loan officers found 22 of the 56 respondent banks reported "moderately stronger" demand for CRE loans over the past three months.

Loan officers noted their credit standards have not changed since the fall – but they have loosened certain terms.  Some increased the maximum size of CRE loans that they fund and many domestic banks trimmed the interest rates they charge on such products.  

"The January results were the first in five years to find a net easing in some of the CRE loan terms covered in the survey," the Fed said.

When it comes to residential lending, the Fed's survey spotted "little" change in lending standards or demand for prime purchase mortgages over the past three months.  Demand for home equity lines of credit "continued to weaken on net," the Fed said.

The January survey included "special" annual questions relating to single-family loan performance during 2012.

"About 55% of banks on net anticipate that delinquency and charge-off rates on nontraditional loans will decline this year compared with about 20% of the respondents to last year's survey," the Fed said.  (Nontraditional loans include Alt-A, payment option and interest-only ARMs loan.)

About 33% of respondents expect the loan performance of prime loans and HELOCs will improve in 2012: "Roughly, the same as last year," according to the Fed.

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