Commercial Loans Blog

Subordination, Non-Disturbance and Attornment Agreements

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, May 25, 2009

What on Earth Does Attornment Mean?

Suppose ABC Rent-a-Car wants to build a commercial building on a specific, high-traffic-count lot in the City.  ABC Rent-a-Car offers to buy the land from the property owner, but the commercial property owner wants to leave this valuable commercial lot to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He refuses to sell.

The commercial property owner, however, is willing to lease the land to ABC Rent-a-Car on a long term basis. ABC Rent-a-Car tries to negotiate a lease of the land for 99 years, the longest term allowed by law. Had the commercial property owner unwisely leased the land to the car rental company for 100 years, the courts would have ruled that this lease was in fact an installment sale! Title to the property would pass to the car rental company. The maximum term of a land lease is 99 years.

The old man, however, refuses to lease the bare commercial land for longer than 75 years, which the car rental company decides is sufficient. The parties execute a land lease for 75 years at an amount that pays the old man a return of about 8% annually on the value of the land, with a cost of living escalator every five years. This would be a very typical deal.

The rental car company, however, insists on a land lease clause requiring any future lender to sign a Subordination, Non-Disturbance and Attornment Agreement. After all, it's only fair. The rental car company is going to spend $800,000 constructing a building on the property at the rental car company's own expense.

What a deal! The property owner gets $40,000 a year triple-net rent on his land lease AND when the lease expires, both the land and the building revert back to his heirs. (I recently ran across a wealthy family trust that has the land lease on an entire city block on Michigan Avenue - the hottest shopping strip - in Chicago. The land lessees built skyscrapers all along that block, and these skyscapers are poised to revert back to the grandchildren of the trust settlor after 99 years. Holy Smackeral! We're talking about a billion dollars worth of buildings!)

Okay, let's scroll forward about ten years. Suddenly the old man is in need of some dough. Maybe he just got a young, new wife. He takes his land lease to the bank and pledges it to the bank for a $500,000 loan. When the bank pulls a title commitment (preliminary report), they find out that ABC Rent-a-Car has recorded their land lease against the title. The bank contacts the attorney for the rental car company and says, "Hey, we want to record our mortgage against the property, and we have to be in first position. We please need for you to subordinate your land lease to our mortgage."

Counsel for the car rental company then responds, "Okay, we'll agree to subordinate, as long as you sign our Subordination, Non-Disturbance and Attornment Agreement." The attorney exchange documents and cut a deal. The new first mortgage is recorded, and the car rental company subordinates it's land lease.

The old man's new wife ends up being a spendthrift and drives him into bankruptcy. The bank forecloses on the property, which is now improved with a gleaming, modern automotive center. The REO property manager for the bank contacts ABC Rent-a-Car and tells them, "Hey, our foreclosure just cut off your lease. You were paying only $40,000 per year for this beautiful facility, but the fair market rent for the property is now at least $100,000 per year. You'll have to start paying us $100,000 per year if you want to continue to rent the property."

"Not so fast, Bucko," replies the attorney for the car rental company. Please check the Subordination, Non-Disturbance and Attornment Agreement that your bank executed. Under the terms of that agreement, your bank promised not to disturb our existing lease if you foreclosed. Now that you have completed the foreclosure, we certainly agree to attorn. Attornment is a word from feudal times that means acknowledging a new lord. In this case, the rental car company acknowledges that all future rent is owned to the new landlord, in this case the bank.


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Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, commercial real estate lenders, commercial property loan, attornment agreement, non-disturbance agreement

How to Get Commercial Loan Packages in the Door

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Dec 29, 2008

Includes George's Famous Pooh-Pooh Soup Story

You're a commercial mortgage broker. You've just quoted a commercial real estate loan to a borrower over the phone. The borrower appears interested, and you want to convince the borrower to send his commercial real estate loan application to you, as opposed to a competing mortgage broker or bank.

The key thing to remember is the Theory of Momentum. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.  A potential commercial real estate borrower is therefore going to want to keep sitting on his hands.

To convince a potential commercial borrower to send his loan package to you, never ask for too many documents at one time.

If you ask for a huge checklist of documents, the borrower will surely procrastinate, during which time he'll speak with a competing commercial lender or mortgage broker, and you'll lose the deal. Instead, ask for just two or three documents at a time. Gather the six-inch-thick stack of required documents slowly over a period of weeks.

"But George, it will take months to close a commercial loan at that pace."

We've all heard the story about the young bull and the old bull standing at the top on the hill and looking down over a herd of beautiful heifers. The young bull turns to the old bull and says, "Hey, Pops, let's run down and kiss one of those cows." The wise old bull replies, "Son, let's walk down and kiss them all."

The point of the story is that if you rush things, your success rate is often much lower. If you ask for a huge checklist of documents, you'll only close one deal in fifty. If you gather the required documents in small, easy waves, you might be able to convince all fifty borrowers to send you a package.

But you have to give the borrower reassurance that his commercial loan application is looking good ... and this leads us to my famous Pooh-Pooh Soup Story:

Have you ever noticed that whenever you order anything to eat at an expensive French restaurant that the snooty waiter always says, "Ah, good choice. The duck a la orange is delicious!" And when you order dessert, "Wonderful choice, sir. The Crepes Suzette are
delicious!"

I've therefore often wondered that if I ever asked for Pooh-Pooh Soup (you guessed it, a log floating is broth ..... eeuuuuu!) whether the French waiter would say, "Ah, the Pooh-Pooh Soup is delicious!"

Now back to our training. We've pointed out that you absolutely need to ask for the documents in five or six waves of three or four easy documents to fetch. But the borrower will need reassurance, before fetching a whole new wave of documents, that at least so far his commercial real estate loan application looks good.

So when you get the first wave of documents - his current schedule of leases (rent roll) and his last year's actual operating expenses - quickly scribble out a pro forma operating statement and do a debt service coverage ratio calculation. Then, assuming the numbers look good, you can tell him, "I've crunched the numbers, and so far your deal looks very do-able!"  (The pooh-pooh soup is delicious!) "Now all I need is a financial statement and two years tax returns."

With these documents you can pull a credit report and report back to the borrower, "I've looked at your financial statement, tax returns and credit report, and everything continues to look very favorable!" (The pooh-pooh soup is delicious.") "Now all I need is a copy of the leases and a financial statement and two years' tax returns on the LLC that actually owns the property." And so on, being sure to reassure the borrower that his loan package looks good (the pooh-pooh soup is delicious) after receiving each wave of documents.

So, to summarize, the object of the game is to convert a telephone lead into a loan package. To get your commercial loan borrower finally moving in your direction, you must not ask for a huge checklist of documents. Instead, ask for a very short list of easy documents to gather. After receiving each wave of documents, be sure to tell the borrower that his deal looks great (the pooh-pooh soup is delicious!). It will take you slightly longer to close a commercial loan this way, but you'll close far, far more deals (you'll kiss them all!).


Do you need to place a commercial real estate loan right now? You can submit your commercial deal to 750 different commercial real estate lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.com. And C-Loans is free!


Perhaps as many as 10% of all of the practicing commercial mortgage brokers in the industry are my former trainees. If you would like to really learn how to broker commercial real estate loans like a pro, please click here.

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