What is the difference between a subprime commercial loan and and a nonprime commercial loan?
The expression "subprime commercial loan" was a term advanced by Bayview Financial, and its subsidiary InterBay Funding, to describe a certain quality of commercial loan made in the early 2000's (1999-2007) that was destined to be added to Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) pools and eventually securitized. We discussed ABS pools in my last blog post, Where Does Subprime Commercial Loan Money Come From?
Subprime commercial loans were pretty good loans. They were the commercial real estate loans that were just not quite good enough for the banks. Their characteristics were:
- They were first mortgage loans.
- They were secured by standing commercial properties; i.e., subprime commercial lenders did not make constructions or renovation loans.
- Subprime commercial lenders would accept most commercial property types, including multifamily properties, office buildings, retail buildings, strip centers and shopping centers, industrial buildings, mixed use properties, auto repair, hotels and motels, restaurants and bars, and self storage. They would not finance churches and nudie bars.
- Deals were qualified primarily by loan-to-value ratio and a minimum credit score.
- Within a small range, the higher the credit score, the higher the loan-to-value ratio that subprime commercial lenders would go.
- Most subprime commercial loans were stated asset loans; i.e., the borrower's signed financial statement was accepted at face value. The borrower did not have to prove how much money he had in the bank.
- Most subprime commercial loans were stated income loans; i.e., the borrower's income, as stated on a signed financial statement, was accepted at face value and did not have to be supported by tax returns. In fact, tax returns were rarely even collected.
- Full occupancy was not required.
- Lease estoppels were not obtained. A lease estoppel is a document, signed by the tenant, confirming what he owed in rent. By signing, the tenant was estopped (fancy legal word meaning he is stopped from denying) from claiming he had prepaid his rent or that his rent obligation was somehow lower. (Note to self: Estoppels would make a great blog subject.)
- Impounds for leasing commissions and tenant improvements were not required. This is surprisingly important because CMBS lenders require such impounds on conduit loans.
It is important for you to understand that subprime commercial loans are gone for good. Even though these subprime commercial loans performed reasonably well during the Great Recession, subprime residential loans proved to be such a disaster that they have forever poisoned the well for subprime investors. The word, "subprime", is now a very dirty word.
"But George, I get emails all of the time saying that 'Subprime Commercial Loans Are Back.'" It's nonsense. These emails are simply from hard money lenders wishing to make their commercial loans at hard money rates and terms.
The wonderful thing about the subprime commercial loans of the early 2000's was that they were offered at interest rates that were a whopping 3% to 4% cheaper than the best rate that any hard money lender could offer you. Unfortunately those days and those loans are indeed gone forever.
"Okay, George, so what is a nonprime commercial loan?"
I have now mentioned several times that subprime commercial loans performed pretty darned well during the Great Recession. The boys on Wall Street are not idiots. They took notice of the surprising performance of these older subprime commercial loans during the slump, and the situation screams to bring them back.
But the Wall Street Boys have a packaging problem. It's that dirty word, "Subprime." Yuck! Wash my mouth out with soap. But what if they gave these same loans a different name? How about "Nonprime"?
Okay, we're on the right track; but we have to make a few substantive changes - something real. Otherwise investors will see through the charade. One of the big criticisms of subprime residential loans was that they were liar loans. The borrowers didn't make near the amount of money they represented on their loan applications, and not surprisingly, a ton of these loans went bad. Okay, so we'll document these new nonprime loans better. That will be the substantive difference.
Now we are finally ready to describe the characteristics of a nonprime commercial loan:
- As a general rule, nonprime commercial loans are the same kind of deals as subprime commercial loans. They are pretty good commercial loans that are just not quite good enough for a bank or a conduit.
- Stated income loans are a thing of the past. Tax returns and leases are required.
- Most commercial real estate loans loans are arguably stated asset loans. Surprisingly, even though commercial real estate loans are usually much, much larger than home loans, most banks and most other commercial lenders do not require the borrower to verify his bank deposits and stock holdings.* This is also true of these new nonprime loans. *No verifications of deposit are required for $2 million commercial loans, but if the borrower wants to borrow just $100,000 to buy a home, he has to verify every piece of lint in his belly button. Ha-ha! Weird but true.
- Because of all of the documentation requirements, most nonprime commercial lenders only want to do larger loans - the deals over $750,000. In the old days, InterBay Funding would do subprime commercial loans as small as $100,000.
- Because the loan amounts are still much smaller than conduit loans (minimum of $5 million), I do not believe that impounds are required for leasing commissions and tenant improvements. (Anybody out there know for sure?)
For more on subprime and nonprime commercial loans, please click here.
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