Commercial Loans Blog

Just How Bad Were These Subprime Home Loans?

Posted by George Blackburne on Fri, Feb 27, 2009

The Recovery Rate is Horribly Low

The Financial Times just published an article about the likely recovery rate of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities. Of the $450 billion in securities analyzed, $305 billion of that paper was already in default.

Of that $305 billion that was already in default, $102 billion has already been liquidated. The recovery rate? The recovery rate on the mezzanine tranches was less than 5%. This is not terribly surprising. A mezzanine tranche consists of a pool of higher-risk B-pieces.

But what about the mortgage bonds backed by the AAA-rated tranches? The recovery rate so far has been just 32 cents on the dollar. Yikes.

Topics: subprime loan

Why the Banks Aren't Making Many Commercial Loans

Posted by George Blackburne on Wed, Feb 25, 2009

The Banks Don't Have Any Money

Every commercial loan broker will tell you that the banks are not making a whole lot of commercial loans these days. Surprisingly, the reason why isn't just because they are afraid to make new commercial loans.

Another important reason is that many banks are fully-invested. In plain English, they don't have the money to make new commercial loans.

This lack of liquidity is not the result of loan losses associated with the subprime meltdown. Few small banks were involved in the deal-flow of subprime loans. When the music suddenly stopped, the small banks were not left holding a huge volume of unsold subprime residential loans. It is easy, therefore, to assume that the small banks have plenty of money to lend.

In fact, the opposite is true. Banks have always preferred to make short term loans, like construction loans and bridge loans. This way they constantly have a few outstanding loans paying off every month, giving them the liquidity to make new short term loans. Unfortunately, ever since the financial crisis began, their outstanding loans have not been paying off. Borrowers with construction loans and bridge loans have been unable to refinance their loans with long-term lenders. The banks have been forced to extend these short term loans into longer term mini-perms.

To make matters worse, most small banks had a great many lines of credit extended to businesses that they served. Most of these businesses are now losing money, so the businesses are drawing down on their credit lines.  This has further drained liquidity from the banks.

Lastly, this is a very difficult time for banks to attract new deposits. The prime rate is a rock-bottom 3.25% right now. The 11th District Cost of Funds Index, a fair proxy for the typical bank's cost of funds, is a whopping 2.75%. Twenty years ago a small bank could not survive on a gross interest margin of less than 6%. With sophisticated new software and ATM's, a small bank can modernly make a profit on a gross interest margin of 4%. Helloooo? Small banks are being forced to survive right now on a gross interest margin of just 50 basis points. They certainly cannot raise interest rates to compete for more deposits.

I feel like an early pioneer, whose wagon train is surrounded by angry Indians, and who learns that the cavalry detachment sent to relieve him is itself under siege by Indians.  The small banks were one of the last sources of lending that might save this faltering economy, and it now appears they too are under siege. Yikes.

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, commercial mortgage lenders, commercial mortgage rates, commercial financing, commercial mortgage

Gas Station Loans

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Feb 24, 2009

SBA Lenders Have Stopped Making Gas Station Loans

Because of the large number of SBA loans on gas stations that have gone bad, many SBA lenders are no longer making gas station loans. I think the issue may be a directive from the SBA itself - no more gas station loans.

Blackburne & Brown, my hard money shop, is still making gas station loans. You can apply for a gas station loan by clicking here.

Topics: small business loan, gas station financing, gas station loan, gas station mortgage, gas station mortgage lender

SBA Loans During This Great Recession

Posted by George Blackburne on Thu, Feb 5, 2009

I Had a Long Conversation With a Veteran SBA Originator

I have a buddy who has been originating SBA loans exclusively for over a decade. Yesterday we spoke about SBA lending for almost 40 minutes. Here are some of the highlights:

SBA lenders rely on selling the insured portion of their SBA 7a loans to bond investors in order to get their principal back with which to make new loans. During the nadir (lowest point) of the financial crisis last year, these bond buyers completely disappeared.

As a result, the huge finance company for which my buddy worked completely stopped making SBA loans for three months. Many other SBA lenders dropped out of the market as well. The only SBA lenders left in the market at the time were a few banks who had the luxury of holding newly-originated SBA loans in inventory.

Recently, however, my buddy's huge finance company converted to a bank and received over $2 billion in TARP money. As a result, his company is now aggressively back in the market to make both 7a and 504 SBA loans.

The SBA will not insure loans on apartment buildings and self-storage properties. These properties earn their cash flow from relatively long-term rentals. As a result, they do not create a lot of jobs and are therefore not eligible to be insured.

Hotel and motels, as my buddy pointed out, are suffering greatly as a result of the financial crisis. Few SBA lenders will make loans on hotels and motels right now.

My buddy's company will not consider gas stations as well right now. His company made a lot of bad gas station loans and lost tens of millions of dollars. Apparently few other SBA lenders will consider gas station loans right now because my own hard money shop, Blackburne & Brown, is seeing a ton of gas station deals.

To my surprise, my buddy told me that the SBA will make loans on mixed use properties. A mixed used property is one where there is both commercial space and residential income space (apartments). Being from New Jersey, he sees a lot of mixed use properties in downtown areas where there is an apartment upstairs and a commercial unit (storefront) downstairs. The only restriction is that the owner-used commercial space must be larger than the apartment space; however, since most of these properties have basements used by the owner of the commercial space, this condition is usually satisfied.

He also surprised me by saying that an SBA loan borrower does not have to have good credit. If the borrower's credit problems were a result of some situation that has subsequently been resolved (divorce, medical problem, etc.), the borrower will still qualify for an SBA loan. He just can't have a lot of delinquencies at the time of the application.

The biggest issue is that the borrower must be able to demonstrate from his tax returns that he has the ability to make the proposed payments. Of course he gets to add back any depreciation and interest payments on any loans that will be paid off from the proceeds of the SBA loan.

My buddy's company has plans to make between $400 million and $600 million in SBA loans this year; however, there has been a fundamental shift in the type of deals they will make.  No longer will they make loans where the underlying commercial real estate constitutes less than 50% of the size of the loan.

Prior to the financial crisis, SBA lenders were regularly making SBA loans with no commercial real estate as collateral at all. They would often finance the purchases of franchises and professional practices, for example. His own company will no longer make SBA loans without some commercial real estate as collateral.

I was surprised at the leverage that SBA lenders can achieve. Using the SBA 7a loan program, SBA lenders can finance not only the purchase of commercial real estate, but also furniture and equipment to use in the property. They can often finance up to 150% of the value of the commercial real estate!

Did you know that if an SBA loan goes delinquent for four months that the SBA lender can present the loan to the SBA, and the SBA will immediately return 75% of the SBA lender's original principal? The SBA lender is still responsible for foreclosing on the collateral and selling the property. Whatever the SBA lender recovers, it must give 75% back to the SBA; but it still gets to keep the remaining 25%.

Let's suppose a SBA lender makes a $1,000,000 loan. When the loan goes delinquent by four months, the SBA lender presents the loan to the SBA, and the SBA immediately gives the lender $750,000 (75%). If the property is later sold at foreclosure for a net sales price of $800,000; the SBA lender gives $600,000 to the SBA (75%) and keeps $200,000. The SBA lender therefore recovered $750,000 plus $200,000 on a $1 million loan, for a loss of only $50,000. This is a good deal.

Based on my buddy's comments, it appears that SBA lenders are likely to loosen up and make some loans this year.


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Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, SBA loan, small business loan, SBA 7a loan, commercial financing

Commercial Loans and Subchapter S Corporations

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Feb 2, 2009

Title to Many Commercial Properties are Held by Subchapter S Corporations

About 25 years ago some thief was climbing on the roof of a commercial building in New York. He was trying to break into the store to steal stuff, and he had no business being on the roof. The roof was near the end of its useful life, and the thief fell through the roof and severely injured himself.

The thief must have had unbelievable audacity because he actually sued the owner of the commercial building for negligence for failing to maintain the roof. To the shock and awe of commercial property owners everywhere, this miserable thief won his lawsuit and was awarded over a million dollars in damages.

The property owner held title to the building personally, and he was personally wiped out when the judgment debtor took virtually everything the poor man owned.

From that moment on, commercial property owners across the country desperately sought a way to insulate themselves from liability. They could not hold title as a regular "C-corp" because they would be taxed twice - once as a corporation and another time when the owners drew out their profits as dividends. Limited liability companies had not yet been invented.

The solution was the subchapter-S corporation. A subchapter-S corporation can only be used for new business ventures, and there is a limit of 35 shareholders. You can therefore never take a subchapter-S corporation public.

The big advantage of the subchapter-S corporation, however, was that it was not taxed twice. The net income of a subchapter-S corporation passes directly through to the owners of the corporation without taxation. The shareholders only pay taxes once on the profits, as they are added to their personal income on their 1040's.

As a result, for about 15 years, title to a great many commercial properties was held by a subchapter-S corporation.

Modernly, subchapter-S corporations have been replaced by limited liability companies (LLC's). LLC's do not have to be new ventures, and ownership is not limited to 35 shareholders.

As a commercial mortgage broker, however, you will still occasionally see subchapter-S corporations. You will need to gather Articles of Incorporation (summary of the key organizational facts - like the name of the corporation, address, etc. - that is filed with the state), the Bylaws (detailed instructions on how to run the corporation), and a Corporate Resolution to Borrow (the minutes of the Board meeting authorizing the president to borrow money on behalf of the corporation).


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Topics: commercial loan, commercial real estate financing, commercial mortgage loans, subchapter-S corporations, commercial financing