Commercial Loans Blog

European Corporations Getting Paid To Take a Commercial Loan

Posted by George Blackburne on Fri, Jun 24, 2016

Deflation.pngDeflation is a very serious threat in Europe.  The problem with deflation is that once it takes root in the minds of consumers, they start to put off their purchases of cars, houses, and other big ticket items.  Why buy a car today when it will only be cheaper next year?   As borrowers procrastinate, sales fall off for manufacturers.  Manufacturers respond by laying off workers, which reduces demand even more, which leads to even more falling sales and layoffs.  Deflation has the potential to become a death spiral for an economy.
 
To combat deflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been engaged in quantitative easing, just like our own Federal Reserve Bank.  The ECB has been buying up enormous amounts of the sovereign debt issued by European countries, like Germany, France, Italy and Spain.  This is a big part of the reason why there is now $10 trillion worth of worldwide sovereign debt (Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, etc.) that has a negative yield.
 
Huh?  What?  I was dozing off.  George, did you just say negative yield?  No way.  You're pulling my leg.  I am absolutely serious.  If you bought a 1% German bund (10-year German bond) two years ago, so many life insurance companies, pensions trusts, endowment funds, and other trusts are anxious to buy that bund from you that the buyer would pay a premium for it.
 
 
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A premium occurs when the buyer of a note, bond, or mortgage pays more than the face value.  For example, suppose your client just sold an apartment building for $1,000,000.  The buyer put down $450,000 in cash, and the seller carried back a first mortgage of $550,000 at 9%.  Because that first mortgage note is so safe and because that 9% rate is so high, an investor might be willing to pay $605,000 for that $550,000 mortgage.  That extra $55,000 is called a premium.
 
Why would an investor pay a $55,000 premium for that first mortgage note?  Because the investor might only be able to find comparable, bank-quality, commercial first mortgage notes at just 5% elsewhere.  Every year the buyer of that mortgage will earn an extra 4% in interest.  Over the ten-year term of the note, the buyer earns far more in extra interest than the $55,000 premium he paid.
 
"Okay, George, let's get back to this 1% German bund.  I can see why someone might pay a tiny bit of a premium for a 1% German bund, if 1% was a higher rate than the investor could earn elsewhere (with the safety of a German bund), but you said something earlier about negative yields.  Why would any one want to bid up the price of a German bund so high that it produced a negative yield?  That's flippin' nuts.  Just stick the money in a bank."
 
The thing about a trust is that the trustee must exactly follow the instructions in the trust agreement.  Pension plans and endowment plans (for example, money donated to a school by alumni) are trusts.  Most trusts require the trustee to maintain some percentage of the corpus (body of the trust; i.e, the dough) in AAA government bonds.  The trustees have no choice.  They simply must buy them, regardless of the cost - even if that means that the trust earns a negative yield.  Unbelievable, huh?
 
 
Coming_Out.jpg
 
 
We took a slight detour.  Let's get back to the European Central Bank and its vast purchases of European sovereign bonds.  The ECB can't buy up every soverign bond in Europe; otherwise, the trustees of all of the various trusts would have to breach their fiduciary duty.  The ECB has to leave some soverign bonds for the public to buy.  That's why the ECB is limiting itself to 70% of the sovereign bonds of any one country.
 
Now remember, the way that the money supply of any country grows is when their banks use their liquidity to make new loans, including commercial loans.  Liquidity is just a fancy world for excess dough sitting around unused.
 
Okay, but what happens when European banks have little appetite to make additional commercial loans?  What can the ECB do to inflate the money supply, at least enough to prevent outright deflation?  The ECB can't many many more German bonds, for example, if they already own 69% of all of Germany's outstanding bonds.  Yikes.
 
Now we finally get to the astounding news:  In order to force new money into the European money supply (to prevent deflation), the ECB has started buying up AAA and AA rated bonds issued by large European corporations, companies like the German industrial giant, Siemens, or the British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline.  The yields on these highly-rated corporate bonds just went negative this quarter.  Siemens can now borrow $50,000,000 for two years, pay no interest at all, and pay back just $49,985,000 two years later.
 
Wow.  May you live in interesting times.
 
Remember, be on the lookout for the business card or the contact information of just one banker making commercial loans.
 
 
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Free $199 Commercial  Underwriting Manual
 
 
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Topics: Deflation

How Commercial Construction Loans Are Underwritten

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Jun 21, 2016

commercial_construction-2.jpgI just completed a new training article on how commercial construction loans are underwritten.  It was the hardest subject that I have ever attempted because bankers use five different financial ratios when underwriting commercial construction loans.  The article took me two weeks to write.

 

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If you are involved in commercial real estate construction, development, sales or finance, you will greatly benefit from mastering this subject.  The Loan-to-Cost Ratio, Total Construction Costs, Hard Costs, Soft Costs, Contingency Reserves, the Profit Ratio, and the Net-Worth-to-Loan-Size Ratio will suddenly because part of your daily lexicon.  After reading this article, commercial real estate finance will hold few remaining mysteries for you.

 

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And folks, this stuff is not that hard.  If you paid attention in fifth grade math, you can master this stuff.  Prepare to be wowed.  Read this great article here:

 

http://www.c-loans.com/knowledge-base/underwriting-commercial-construction-loans

 

Apply  For a Commercial Construction Loan

 

Keep looking for the business card or the contact information of any banker making commercial real estate loans.  We'll trade you the contents of that one business card for a free directory of 2,000 commercial real estate lenders.

 

Free Directory of 750+  Commercial Real Estate Lenders

 

 

Have you registered on C-Loans (filling in your name and address) and gotten your free $199 commercial mortgage underwriting manual?

 

Free $199 Commercial  Underwriting Manual

 

Do you sell commercial real estate?  If so, then by all means open a commercial mortgage company (a desk, a phone, and a body)!  Why?  Because there is no better way to meet high-net-worth individuals than to own a comemrcial mortgage company.  Poor people don't own $5 million shopping centers.

 

Commercial mortgage training

 

Do you need a commercial loan with no prepayment penalty? Is your client's commercial property partially vacant? Do all of your commercial leases run out in the next 18 months? Do you need a lender who will allow a negative cash flow? Do you need a lender who will also look at the borrower's global income - income from salaries, other investments, etc.? Do you need a lender who will allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage? Does your client have a balloon payment coming due on his commercial property? Has your bank offered him a discounted pay-off? Does your borrower have less-than-stellar credit? Is your client's company losing money? Is your borrower a foreign national? Do you need a non-recourse loan?

 

Apply For a Commercial Loan to Blackburne & Sons

 

Got a commercial mortgage deal that deserves a life company, conduit, or bank loan?

 

Submit Your Loan to 750 CommercialLender

 

Did you learn something today?  Want to recieve two free training lessons in commercial real estate finance every week?

 

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Topics: commercial construction loans

Commercial Loans and Second Mortgages

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Jun 13, 2016

See_Through_Building.jpgToday you will learn a new financial ratio, the New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio.

Twenty-five years ago the commercial property second mortgage business was huuuuge.  Almost 100 private money (hard money) commercial mortgage companies nationwide would glady make you a second mortgage on your apartment building or office building.

Then a commercial real estate depression rolled across the country in the early 1990's.  It started with a bust in oil prices, and commercial real estate in Houston, Texas and in Denver, Colorado (the oil business was big business in Denver in those days) collapsed in value.  I use the expression, "depression", because commercial real estate in those days collapsed by a whopping 45%.  Interesting note:  I have survived three commercial real estate depressions in my career, and each time commercial real estate values collapsed by almost exactly 45%.  Forty-five percent.  Hmmmm.  I gotta remember that number.

This was the era of the see-through building.  A see-through building was a newly constructed commercial building, with no tenants and hence no tenant improvements.  It was just an empty shell, and if you looked through the windows, you could see all the way through to the other side.  Hundreds of huge, see-through, office towers could be found in Houston, Denver, and other large cities across the country.  Developers couldn't find any tenants for their beautiful new architectural monuments.  Commercial construction lenders - typically S&L's (savings and loan associations) - lost billions of dollars during the 1990-1991 recession, leading to the Savings and Loan Crisis, where almost 1,100 out of about 2,300 S&L's went bankrupt.

Anyway, in the early 1990's, everyone thought that the depression would be limited to just the Oil Patch states; but then the Eastern part of the country fell into a severe recession.  Everyone in California was sure that the rolling depression would never hit California because Silicon Valley was rocking and millions of people were moving to California.  "We are immune," said many Californians.  We weren't.  In 1991 the rolling commercial real estate depression hit California, and commercial real estate values fell by - you guessed it - 45%.

Now the thing about a second mortgage is that the second mortgage holder has to keep the first mortgage current; otherwise, the second mortgage holder will be wiped out when the first mortgage forecloses.  In most cases it doesn't even matter if the borrower has a ton of equity in the property, over and above the first and second mortgages.

The reason why is because no one ever bids at commercial mortgage foreclosure sales.  Lots of fix-and-flippers bid at residential foreclosures sales, but no one ever bids at foreclosures of commercial property.  Yeah, yeah, I am sure that over the years a few wealthy investors have actually bid at a commercial mortgage foreclosure sale, but such an event is extremely rare.  Why?  Any bids at a foreclosure sale have to be all-cash, and the numbers are just too big for bidders to show up with $3 million in cashier's checks.  The bottom line is that the commercial second mortgage holder absolutely must keep the first mortgage current while he forecloses on his second mortgage.

If a lender is actually going to make a commercial second mortgage, he needs to make sure that the first mortgage payments are not impossibly large.  Imagine if you made a $400,000 second mortgage behind a $10,000,000 first mortgage on an $18 million apartment building.  At first glance, this looks like a gorgeous deal.  It's only 57.8% loan-to-value.  Wow.

However, the monthly payments on a $10 million first mortgage, at 5.25% interest and amortized over 25 years, are $59,925.  If the second mortgage holder first learns that the borrower is delinquent when the borrower is five months behind on his first mortgage payments and then has to keep the first mortgage current for another 7 months while he foreloses, the second mortgage holder will have to advance almost $720,000 to protect his little $400,000 second mortgage investment.  Ouch!  In real life, no one has that kind of dough.

Therefore commercial second mortgage lenders developed a financial ratio to warn themselves away from making such a mistake.  It is called the New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio.

The New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio is defined as the size of the proposed second mortgage divided by the size of the first mortgage, the dividend (result) being multiplied by 100%.

New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio = (Size of Second Mortgage / the Size of First Mortgage) x 100%

The New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio should always be larger than 33%.

Let's plug in the numbers from the example above.

New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio = (Size of Second Mortgage / the Size of First Mortgage) x 100%

New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio = ($400,000 / $10,000,000) x 100%

New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio = .04 x 100%

New-Money-to-Old-Money Ratio = 4%

Clearly 4% is way-way less than 33%.  It would be reckless to make such a second mortgage, even though the apartment building might be a very nice one and even though the loan-to-value ratio was less than 58%.

Okay, now back to our rolling commercial real estate depression.  In the early 1990's, most of the commercial second mortgage lenders were based in California.  When the depression finally rolled through California in 1991, commercial real estate fell by 45%.  Since most commercial second mortgage lenders were lending up to 65% to 70% LTV in the years leading up to the depression, they found themselves severely upside-down in most deals.  Faced with making the first mortgage payments for an uncertain amount of time, on a partially-vacant or vacant commercial building with very little remaining equity, most second mortgage lenders allowed themselves to be wiped out.

Poof!  Commercial second mortgage lenders lost billions of dollars and exited the business for good.  They have never come back.  To this day very few commercial lenders will therefore make second mortgages.

To make matters worse, a change in Federal law (the Garn-St. Germain Act) had recently clarified that the acceleration clause contained in the mortgages of virtually all bank first mortgages was enforceable.  An acceleration clause is the section in a mortgage that says if the borrower sells the property or places a second mortgage / mezzanine loan on the property that the bank can immediately demand to be paid in full.

Another huge reason why so few lenders will make commercial second mortgages is because the moment they place their mortgage on the property, the underlying first mortgage lender can accelerate his loan.  If that happens, the holder of a $400,000 second mortgage, for example, might suddenly have to come up with $1 million (or $10 million) to pay off an accelerated first mortgage.  Yikes.

So is it impossible to get a commercial second mortgage today?  No.  There is still a handful of rough-and-tumble commercial lenders willing to make a commercial second mortgage.  You can find these lenders by entering your deal into C-Loans.com.

"Gee, george, I get it.  I'm not going to find many lenders willing to make me a commercial second mortgage; but I don't need to find a lender willing to make me a commercial second mortgage.  I just need to find a lender who will allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage.  With banks being so conservative today, its hard to find a buyer capable of putting 35% down."

You would think that banks would be happy to have the seller carry back a second mortgage.  After all, if the borrower defaults, the seller would be motivated to bring the bank current and foreclose his second mortgage.

In real life, this doesn't happen.  Almost invariably the seller lacks the financial resources to keep the first mortgage current.  The bank ends up foreclosing and wipes out the seller's second mortgage.

But wait, it gets even worse.  When the bank does foreclose, almost invariably it finds that the property has been allowed to fall into a dilapidated condition.  How could this happen?  The borrower has been using the dough earmarked to keep the property maintained to make the second mortgage payments.

As a result, you will almost never find a commercial bank willing to allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage.  Banks always want cash-to-loan; i.e., no second mortgages.

This is one good reason to apply to Blackburne & Sons for your purchase money commercial loans.  While we will NOT make a commercial second mortgage, Blackburne & Sons will allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage behind our new first mortgage.

 

Apply For a Commercial Loan to Blackburne & Sons

 

Are you a commercial broker; i.e., do you sell commercial real estate?  What I am about to tell you is the most important thing you will ever learn in commercial-investment real estate brokerage!  There is no easier way to meet high-net-worth real estate investors than to be a commercial mortgage broker.  After all, poor people don't own $5 million office buildings.  They are owned by the filthy rich.  Every commercial brokerage office needs to have a small commercial loan brokerage operation.  It could just be a desk and phone.  It doesn't even matter if you EVER close a loan.  Your ads for commercial loans will pull in hordes of wealthy investors to whom you can later sell commercial real estate.

 

Commercial mortgage training

 

Do you need a commercial loan with no prepayment penalty? Is your client's commercial property partially vacant? Do all of your commercial leases run out in the next 18 months? Do you need a lender who will allow a negative cash flow? Do you need a lender who will also look at the borrower's global income - income from salaries, other investments, etc.? Do you need a lender who will allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage? Does your client have a balloon payment coming due on his commercial property? Has your bank offered him a discounted pay-off? Does your borrower have less-than-stellar credit? Is your client's company losing money? Is your borrower a foreign national? Do you need a non-recourse loan?

 

Apply For a Commercial Loan to Blackburne & Sons

 

Do you have a commercial loan that deserves to be financed by a life company, bank, or conduit?

 

Submit Your Loan to 750 CommercialLender

 

Keep looking for bankers who make commercial loans.  You can parlay the contents of a single business card into a free directory of 2,000 commercial real estate lenders. 

 

Free Directory of 750+  Commercial Real Estate Lenders

 

We here at C-Loans, Inc. have a vested interest in getting you pre-registered on C-Loans.com.  Registration is just a fancy way of saying to give us your contact information, so future lenders can reach you.  We want you in a sprint start so that the next time you run across a commercial real estate loan, you can quickly enter it into C-Loans.com.  To encourage you to pre-register, we are giving away a free Commercial Mortgage Underwriting Manual, a manual we sell separately for $199.

 

Free $199 Commercial  Underwriting Manual

 

Are you ready to finally learn commercial real estate finance?  It's a rare commercial lending conference when one of my former (video course) students doesn't come up to me and thank me for this course.

 

Commercial mortgage training

 

Did you learn something today?  Want to receive two free lessons in commercial real estate finance every week?

 

Subscribe To Blog

 

Got a buddy or a co-worker who would benefit from free training in commercial real estate finance?

 

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Topics: commercial second mortgages

Getting Your Commercial Loan Documented, Approved, and Off the Street

Posted by Angelica Gardner on Fri, Jun 10, 2016

On_the_Street.jpgThe following article has immensely helpful information for anyone in the commercial real estate business - be she a commercial loan broker, a commercial broker (you sell real estate), or an investor.  The article is short, but it hits you with great tool after great tool (all free), bam-bam-bam.  Prepare to be wowed:

Every broker or loan representative should know that timing is everything.  In an effort to get a deal off the streets, a loan approval letter needs to be issued quickly.  (George's comment:  I just love that expression, "Get the deal off the street".  That is so important!)

But what do you do when the borrower can’t get you every needed document in a timely manner?  Do you have to wait until you get everything?  Of course not.  But it does involves work on your part.

Nowadays information is readily available at our fingertips. We just need to make the effort to get it, and we need to be creative about it. The internet is an amazing tool (Thanks Al Gore) that can pretty much get you anything you need.

 

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One of the most important items needed for an underwriter is pictures of the property. There is no reason to wait until a borrower gets you property pictures. You can find property pictures on your own just by using Google Earth.  Here, you are able to get not only street views of the property, but you also can get aerial views.  In just a few minutes you can have those pictures ready.  We also like to see the neighborhood, and Google Earth allows you to look down the street or across the street to see what is surrounding the property.

But be sure to watch out for the date of the picture.  Most are recent, but we have found that sometimes the picture may be a year or two old, and since then the borrower maybe updated, remolded, painted or made other improvements to the property.  If that is the case, be sure to explain that when you submit your deal (to a lender).  You can always get updated pictures later - once the deal is off the street.

Another important item is property details.  The borrower tells you he has an industrial building, but he doesn’t know the square footage or parcel size.  He needs to dig up that information in his records (hopefully he is keeping them).  Again, don’t wait if you can find it yourself. There are a few ways we have found to get this information. Our favorite is LoopNet.  Did you know LoopNet has entire reports on property history, tenants, sq. footage, parcel size, unit mix, tax history and more? Better yet, it is free to use. All you have to do is log on to loopnet.com, enter the location address and before you know it you will have a plethora of information. This is also a great tool that can help you filter out good deals from bad deals. Maybe your borrower hasn’t been completely honest with you.  LoopNet can provide you with history of mortgage defaults, unpaid property taxes and even tenant rental amounts.

 

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In our office we also use Chicago Title Premier Services, another free service. Just go to https://premier.ctic.com/.  On this site you can search title records by name, address, APN’s and even street names. You can pull title reports that show mortgage history, defaults, property tax status, sq. footage, lien holders, etc. You can also get photos and plat maps on this site.  The reports also include comparable sales data, something an underwriter would greatly appreciate.

What else can you get online? Credit reports. Well, you can’t get one for someone else, but you can provide your borrower with different options to get a self-pulled credit report free of charge. Some sites that offer this are creditkarama.comfreecreditreport.comExperian.comEquifax.com and transunion.com. While the lender will still want to pull a tri-merge credit report in the future, providing one of these free reports will at least get the ball rolling and provide an idea of the credit worthiness of a borrower.

Last, but certainly not least is PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records. On Pacer you have to set up an account, but it is a relatively easy process.  We use pacer often.  On pacer you can get copies of any court documents needed.  Is your borrower in Bankruptcy?  If so, there is no need to wait for the borrower to request bankruptcy documents ffrom his attorney.  You can go online, search their name and find those documents on your own.  You can also find out about any law suit or even divorce proceedings. This is just another way to get needed documents quickly, so that you can get the deal off the street.

These are just a few tools to use to get what you need.  There are many options available, you just have to put in the effort.  If you are hungry to get your deals moving, this is how you do it.

Angelica.jpgI would love to take credit for this wonderful blog article; but it was written by the lovely and smart Angelica Gardner, the Executive Vice President of Blackburne & Sons, the head of our Loan Committee, and since I live in Indiana 2,000 miles away, arguably the de facto CEO of our company.

 

 

Keep looking for bankers who make commercial loans.  You can parlay the contents of a single business card into a free directory of 2,000 commercial real estate lenders. 

 

Free Directory of 750+  Commercial Real Estate Lenders

 

We here at C-Loans, Inc. have a vested interest in getting you pre-registered on C-Loans.com.  Registration is just a fancy way of saying to give us your contact information, so future lenders can reach you.  We want you in a sprint start so that the next time you run across a commercial real estate loan, you can quickly enter it.  To encourage you to pre-register, we are giving away a free Commercial Mortgage Underwriting Manual, a manual we sell separately for $199.

 

Free $199 Commercial  Underwriting Manual

 

Do you have a commercial loan that deserves to be financed by a life company, bank, or conduit?

 

Submit Your Loan to 750 CommercialLender

 

Do you need a commercial loan with no prepayment penalty? Is your client's commercial property partially vacant? Do all of your commercial leases run out in the next 18 months? Do you need a lender who will allow a negative cash flow? Do you need a lender who will also look at the borrower's global income - income from salaries, other investments, etc.? Do you need a lender who will allow the seller to carry back a second mortgage? Does your client have a balloon payment coming due on his commercial property? Has your bank offered him a discounted pay-off? Does your borrower have less-than-stellar credit? Is your client's company losing money? Is your borrower a foreign national? Do you need a non-recourse loan?

 

Apply For a Commercial Loan to Blackburne & Sons

 

Are you ready to finally learn commercial real estate finance?  It's a rare commercial lending conference when one of my former (video course) students doesn't come up to me and thank me for this course.

 

Commercial mortgage training

 

Are you a commercial broker; i.e., you sell commercial real estate?  What I am about to tell you is the most important thing you will ever learn in commercial brokerage!  There is no easier way to meet high-net-worth real estate investors than to be a commercial mortgage broker.  Every commercial brokerage office needs to have a small commercial loan brokerage operation.  It doesn't even matter if you EVER close a loan.  Your ads for commercial loans will pull in hordes of wealthy investors to whom you can later sell commercial real estate.

 

Commercial mortgage training

 

Did you learn something today?  Want to receive two free lessons in commercial real estate finance every week?

 

Subscribe To Blog

 

Got a buddy or a co-worker who would benefit from free training in commercial real estate finance?

 

Forward To a Friend

 

Topics: Documenting a Commercial Loan

Mezzanine Loans, Preferred Equity, and Venture Equity - Part II

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Jun 6, 2016

Office_tower.jpgThis whole subject of mezzanine loans, preferred equity, venture equity, capital stacks, senior stretch financing, A/B Notes, and syndicated loans is called structured financing.  Relax.  I am going to give you a quick refresher course about each of these fancy terms.

Most of us human (as opposed to god-like) commercial mortgage brokers will seldom dwell in the lofty palaces of structured financing; but we don't want to look like complete newbies if the subject ever comes up at a commercial lending conference or in a conversation with a very wealthy commercial borrower.

Think of a mezzanine loan as sort of like a second mortgage, but its a type of second mortgage that a lender can foreclose in six weeks rather than six months.  A mezzanine loan is always junior to some huge first mortgage (typically $10+ million), and a mezzanine loan is secured, not by a mortgage, but rather by the stock of the corporation* that owns some trophy office building or huge shopping center.  If you foreclose on the stock, you then own the corporation as well as the property!  And since stock in a corporation is personal property (pay attention - this is on the test), normal mortgage laws don't apply.  Just like a finance company can repossess your car in just a few days if you miss a payment, so can a mezzanine lender foreclose on a billion dollar office tower in New York City.

*  More precisely, everyone uses LLC's these days, and the stock equivalent in LLC's is a membership interest. If you foreclose on 100% of the membership interests, you own the LLC and the $500 million shopping center.

 

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Think of preferred equity as if it was a second mortgage as well, but technically preferred equity is not a loan.  It does not have regular monthly payments.  It's an investment in the ownership of the property; however, the most a preferred equity investor can earn is some agreed upon yield - typically 12% to 14%.  The bad news is that the preferred equity investor is not guaranteed to earn, say, 13%; but the good news is that if the owners of the property earn anything, those earnings go first to pay the preferred equity investors.  They're preferred.  Mother always loved them best.  As the Church Lady might say, they're special.

 

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In my last blog article, I explained venture equity.  It's joint venture money.  The bank wants the developer to have invested 20% of the total cost of the project; but on the really huge deals, no one has $10 million in cash to put into a single deal.  Opportunity funds (think of them as go-go funds or the play money of the super rich)  will contribute 70% to 90% of the required equity in return for a preferred yield of, say, 8%, and 50% of the profit in the deal.

"Geez, George, my eyes are glazing over.  Do I really need to know this stuff?  I'm just doing $500,000 to $5 million commercial loans."

If you don't completely understand everything today, don't freak out.  I will try to review structured finance every few months; but yes, eventually you will want to master this stuff.  If not, then you will always lack confidence when negotiating larger commercial loans.

This verbal proof story will help you to understand.  My hard money mortgage company once made a loan on an office building in New York.  It tooks 18 months to foreclose!  That's how slow the courts were there.  Arghh!  Now, can you imagine if my loan had been a $200,000 second mortgage behind a $1 million first mortgage with monthly payments of $10,000 per month?  In order to keep my $200,000 second mortgage from being cut off by a foreclosure of the first mortgage, I would have needed to advance a whopping $180,000 to cover the first mortgage payments during that 18-month foreclosure process.  

Now think about a $50 million first mortgage on some office tower with payments of $290,000 per month.  If you made a $5 million second mortgage on this building worth $1 billion, and the borrower defaulted, you might have to make $290,000 monthly payments for 18 months while you foreclosed! In other words, you would have been required to advance another $5.2 million in order to protect your original $5MM loan.  Ouch!!!

This is why smart investment bankers invented the mezzanine loan.  They needed a way to foreclose FAST!  Some first mortgage documents forbid mezzanine loans.  This is why preferred equity was created.

 

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Almost done for the day.  You may recall that I blogged last year on senior stretch financing.  It's when a single lender blends the rate of a conventional first mortgage with the rate of a mezzanine loan to come up with a single first mortgage loan with a higher blended rate and a higher LTV.  

The next to the last subject is A/B notes.  To prepare to write today's article, I had to go onto Google and search for "A/B notes and C-Loans".  I found a great blog article on A/B notes written by... me!  Remember this trick.  Suppose you wanted to understand hypothecations, but you like the way that I explain things.  You could simply go onto Google and type, "hypothecations and C-Loans".  [Sons, when I move on to that great party boat in the sky, remember this trick.]

An A/B note is when a lender spits up a giant first mortgage into a larger "A" portion and a smaller "B" portion.  The "A" portion has priority.  The "A" portion gets paid first.  The two different portions are then sold off to different investors. 

Last subject:  When fancy New York investment bankers finance the huge office towers, you might have a capital stack that looks like this in terms of priority:

 

$200 million first mortgage at 4.75%
$50 million mezzanine loan Piece A at 8.2%
$20 million mezzanine loan Piece B at 9.5%
$12 million preferred equity Piece A yielding 12.0%
$8 million preferred equity Piece B yielding 14.0%
$18 million venture equity investment with a yield expectation of 20%
$4 million buyer's downpayment

And all I want is a lousy 2 points of the entire $312 million in financing.  Am I asking so much?  :-)

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Final funny:  Many pessimists got that way by financing optimists.

 

Topics: structured finance

Commercial Loans, Mezzanine Loans, Preferred Equity, and Venture Equity

Posted by George Blackburne on Fri, Jun 3, 2016

Rendering-1.jpgA gorgeous $50+ million commercial construction loan was entered into C-Loans.com today, and I personally brought it to the attention of the largest commercial mortgage company in the country.  These are the guys who close 40% to 50% of all of the commercial loans over $30 million.

I seldom personally place the commercial loans entered into C-Loans.com, but there are green flags that really get my greed gland - an ugly goider on the right side of my neck - pulsating and glowing with a florescent internet green.  "This deal smells like a BIG fee!"

Okay, so what did I spot?  What triggered my ugly but reliable greed gland?  I called my son, Tom, today, and I asked him, "Hey son, a big commercial construction loan request was just entered into C-Loans, and I am all hot and bothered.  What did I spot?"

Answer:  The developer attached an architect's rendering!

Guys, every commercial construction loan request larger than $10 million absolutely needs an architect's rendering if the developer really expects to ever get the deal funded.

The fact that this developer included an architect's rendering meant:

1.  This developer is experienced.

2.  The developer is not trying to pinch pennies; i.e., he has enough dough to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for an architect's rendering.

 

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Then I asked my son, as a review, what four elements are included in Total Construction Cost?

Answer:  Land Cost, Hard Costs, Soft Costs, and a Contingency Reserve.

Okay, but how do you compute the Contingency Reserve?

Answer:  The Contingency Reserve should be 5% of hard and soft costs.  It's a special line item in the Construction Loan Budget designed to cover cost overruns.

But why only 5% of hard costs and soft costs?  What about 5% of the land costs?

Answer: By this point, the cost of the land has already been fixed.  It has either already been purchased, or it is already in contract.  There shouldn't be any overruns on the cost of the land.

Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants, what percentage of the Total Construction Cost do most banks expects a developer to contribute to the deal?  In other words, how much skin in the deal is the developer typically required to contribute?

Answer:  Typically the developer is required to cover 20% of the total cost of the project.  Usually this takes the form of equity / downpayment in the land, architect's fees and engineering fees.

The general rule is that construction lenders expect the developer to contribute the land to the deal free and clear.  After all, in most cases, the land cost equals about 20% of the total cost of the project.

In real life, this seldom happens; however, between the developer's equity in the land, his prepaid architect's fees, and his prepaid engineering fees, the successful developer does indeed contribute 20% of the total cost of the project.

Pop quiz:  A developer comes to you for a land loan.  He paid $1 million in cash for the land.  He needs a $400,000 land loan for the architect's fees and engineering fees.  He promises that he will pay off the land loan when he gets a construction loan.  (Angelica, my precious head of Loan Committee, this lesson is for you.)  Is this a good land loan?

Well, we said that the land cost is usually 20% of the total cost of a commercial construction project.  If the land cost is $1 million (20%), then the total project cost is probably around $5 million.  If the developer spends $400,000 on architect's fees and engineering fees (the real number will probably be less), then the developer is contributing $600,000 in equity in the land, $200,000 in prepaid architect's fees, and $200,000 for prepaid engineering fees.  The developer is therefore contributing $1 million or 20% of the total cost of the project!  This is a good land loan!  Yeah!!  :-)

 

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By the way, the Great Recession is over.  Blackburne & Sons made very few land loans leading up to the Great Recession, but we are very bullish on land loans right now.

Okay, we are now going back to the $50 million commercial commercial loan request that just entered C-Loans.  The developer wrote that he had $5 million in cash to contribute to the project.

"Hey, wait a minute, George.  I thought you just said that the developer is required to contribute 20% of the total cost of a construction project?  This is a $50 million project.  The developer should be required to contribute $10 million, right?"

Well, on the really large commercial construction loans ($30MM+), most developers lack the cash required to cover a full 20% of the cost of the project.  C'mon, really, who has $10 million to contribute to a commercial real estate construction project?  I doubt that even Donald Trump contributes $10 million in cash to any of his commercial construction deals.

Okay, so what happens in real life on these huge commercial construction loan requests?  The developer will typically be required to cover 7% to 10% of the total cost of any $30+ million commercial construction project. The rest will typically be covered by venture equity.

Venture equity is like venture capital, except it is for real estate projects.  Venture equity investors provide the equity shortfalls to developers on large commercial construction deals.  Venture equity investors typically expect total returns of 16% to 20%.  A typical venture equity investor might require a 10% preferred return, plus 50% of the total profit in a construction deal.

Okay, I have my son, Tom , pinned against the ropes.  He has been reading my blogs for years.  He can't run.

So what is a capital stack?

Answer by Tom (that clever little devil):  A capital stack is the sum, on a huge commercial mortgage deal, of the first mortgage, plus the mezzanine loan, plus the preferred equity, plus the venture equity, plus the the developer's position in the deal.

 

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Topics: Developer's Equity