Commercial Loans Blog

Commercial Loans and Asset-Backed Securities

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Apr 23, 2019

Asset-Backed SecurityFor the last forty years, hard money commercial lenders and their private investors have been making money hand-over-fist by making subprime and nonprime commercial loans.  

Both sub-prime and non-prime commercial loans share the same characteristic.  The deal isn't quite good enough for a bank.  At least one of the Three C's of Underwriting - capacity to repay, collateral, and credit - is weak.

 

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What is the difference between a subprime commercial loan and a nonprime commercial loan?  Here's an easy and fun way to remember it.  A subprime commercial loan is loan to an axe murderer.  A nonprime commercial loan is also a loan to an axe murderer, but the axe murderer has to first provide a bunch of paperwork.  No-doc loans became taboo after the Great Recession.

 

But here's the thing about subprime commercial loans.  In my lifetime, commercial real estate has crashed by 45% three times - once during the S&L Crisis, once during the Dot-Com Meltdown, and once during the Great Recession.  And you know what?  Even though the 65% LTV hard money loans in our portfolio suddenly became 120% LTV deals after the crash, the vast majority of our smaller deals kept making their monthly payments!

Wall Street has figured out a way to securitize nonprime commercial loans using asset-backed securities.

 

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What is an Asset-Backed Security?

According to Investopedia, an asset-backed security (ABS) is a financial security collateralized by a pool of assets such as loans, leases, credit card debt, royalties or receivables - all kinds of different stuff.  For investors, asset-backed securities are an alternative to investing in corporate debt.  An ABS is similar to a mortgage-backed security, except that most of the underlying securities are not mortgage-based.

The basic concept behind the asset-backed security is that you investment is backed by lots of different types of collateral.  A tax law change may crater commercial real estate estate values, like it did in 1986, but aircraft leases might keep purring along.  An investor does not have all of his eggs in one basket.

Asset-backed securities allow lenders (more precisely, issuers) to generate more cash, which, in turn, is used for more lending, while giving investors the opportunity to invest in a wide variety of income-generating assets.  Usually, the underlying assets of an ABS are illiquid and can't be sold on their own.  However, pooling the assets together and creating a financial security, a process called securitization, enables the owner of the assets to make them marketable.

 

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Real quick:  Securitization is the process of taking a bunch of loans, sticking them into a giant pool, and then issuing little pieces of paper (securities) that say that the holder gets, say, 1/100,000th of any cash flow coming back to the pool.  

The underlying assets of these pools may be home equity loans, automobile loans, credit card receivables, student loans, scratch-and-dent residential loans (deals that got kicked out of another securitization), subprime commercial loans, or other expected cash flows.

Issuers of ABS can be as creative as they desire.  For example, asset-backed securities have been created based on cash flows from movie revenues, royalty payments, aircraft leases and solar photovoltaics.  Just about any cash-producing situation can be securitized into an ABS.

 

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Example of an Asset-Backed Security

Assume that Company X is in the business of making automobile loans.  If a person wants to borrow money to buy a car, Company X gives that person the cash, and the person is obligated to repay the loan with a certain amount of interest.  Perhaps Company X makes so many loans that it runs out of cash to continue making more loans.  Company X can then package its current loans and sell them to Investment Firm X, thus receiving cash that it can use to make more loans.

Investment Firm X will then sort the purchased loans into different groups called tranches.  These tranches are groups of loans with similar characteristics, such as maturity, interest rate and expected delinquency rate.  Next, Investment Firm X will issue securities (bonds) that are similar to typical bonds on each tranche it creates.

Individual investors then purchase these securities and receive the cash-flows from the underlying pool of auto loans, minus an administrative fee that Investment Firm X keeps for itself.

 

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An ABS will usually have three tranches: Class A, B and C. The senior tranche, A, is almost always the largest tranche and is structured to have an investment-grade rating to make it attractive to investors.  An investment-grade rating is BBB or higher according to Standard & Poors.  The reason this is important is because many trust documents forbid investments in any deal that is not investment grade.

The B tranche has lower credit quality and, thus, has a higher yield than the senior tranche. The C tranche has a lower credit rating than the B tranche and might have such poor credit quality that it can't be sold to investors.  In this case, the issuer would keep the C tranche and absorb the losses.

 

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Why Do We Care About Asset-Backed Securities?

Many of the commercial lenders making nonprime commercial loans today ultimately get their lending dough, not from deposits or from private investors like Blackburne & Sons, but rather by sprinkling their nonprime commercial loans into ABS pools.

 

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Topics: ABS

Airballs, Exiting, and Some Surprising Uses of SBA Loans

Posted by George Blackburne on Thu, Apr 18, 2019

SBA loansYou experienced commercial loan guys, I promise that I am about to share some surprising, cool, and new stuff about SBA loans.  I just please need your patience for a few paragraphs.

SBA lenders are NOT the same.  As often as I harp on this important concept, I am far from convinced that all of my readers completely grasp it.  Sure, the Small Business Administration guarantees a large portion of all SBA loans; but it does NOT guaranty the entire loan.

 

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The unguaranteed portion is still flopping out there in the breeze, just waiting to get written off as a complete loss when the loan defaults.  Since each and every SBA lender has a significant amount of its own dough at risk, they will each underwrite an SBA loan request differently.

It would therefore be foolish to ever say, "Oh, I don't qualify for an SBA loan.  I applied to the SBA, and they turned me down."  First of all, you never apply to the SBA.  You apply to one of twelve bazillion SBA lenders.

And since every SBA lender underwrites its loans differently, you would be crazy to quit after just one turndown.  Eighteen is the magic number.  If you use C-Loans.com to quickly shift your SBA loan application to eighteen different SBA lenders, and they all turn you down, then you can finally admit defeat.

 

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C-Loans is the absolutely perfect tool to place SBA loans because we have a TON of SBA lenders, and you only need to create your loan application once.  You then submit that single application to suitable and hungry SBA lenders, six at a time, with just one click.

Finally the Surprising, Cool, and New Information:

One of our SBA lenders wrote to me today and said, "George, you should consider opening your marketing efforts up to business acquisitions and debt refinances through the SBA program."

 

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I wrote back, "Does the SBA finance the purchase of businesses without real estate involved???"

My buddy replied, "I’m doing one now. It is a $1.5 million purchase of a service business.  The business leases space from an unrelated third party, so there is no real estate collateral.

The buyer put down 20%, and we financed the rest with a SBA guaranty.  The lender is required by the SBA to try and get to a 1:1 collateral position.  Business assets are heavily discounted by the SBA, so typically we have to take a second mortgage on a house, IF there is equity.  Some banks will do these loans with up to a $1 million to $1.5 million airball, meaning a collateral shortfall.  It depends on the bank's risk appetite.

 

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"What, then, is a debt refinance?  Refinancing a conventional loan?"

A debt refinance may or may not involve real estate.  It can be any debt a business has incurred, where the SBA loan can reduce the monthly payment by 10%.

Example 1:

Joe Business Owner has a hard money loan at 12%, with a 2 year call.  He can get a SBA loan to refinance it at a lower rate and a 25-year amortization.

Example 2:

Joe Business Owner is being exited (i.e. kicked out) of a big bank for a covenant violation.  A covenant is a contractual promise (in a loan agreement), like a borrower promising to pay off his line of credit and maintaining a zero balance for at least 30 days per year.   Joe Business Owner needs to refinance his $1 million line of credit.  He can get a SBA term loan with a 10-year amortization, if he qualifies.

 

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Another cool use of an SBA loan is to buy a franchise.  There are nationwide SBA lenders that specialize in the purchase of franchises, like restaurants, like a KFC franchise; hair salons, like Pro Cuts; and shipping stores, like MailBoxes, Etc.

You get more dollars, a longer amortization, and a lower credit it score requirement when you finance your franchise purchases through these specialized franchise SBA lenders.

 

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Topics: airballs

Commercial Loans and the Acceleration Clause

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Apr 9, 2019

Bad boyI was speaking with one of my very wealthy private investors about commercial loans last week.  He is an attorney and a very sophisticated investor, so I was shocked when he revealed that he had just made a very large second mortgage on an apartment building in Houston.

If you don't immediately recognize the issue, and if you are not thinking to yourself, "This guy is absolutely nuts," today's training lesson will be very instructive.

 

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You will recall that an acceleration clause is the language in a trust deed or mortgage that gives the lender the right to demand to be repaid in full immediately.  Normally you make monthly payments to your mortgage lender.  If you fall behind, you can usually just bring your past due payments current, pay your late charges, and get back on a regular monthly repayment schedule.

But at some point; like if you fall behind by too many payments; or if you do something horribly wrong; like if you get caught mishandling toxic substances on the property; the lender will no longer allow you to reinstate your loan.  Reinstate means bringing your past due payments currents or curing some defect on the property and then getting back on a monthly payment schedule.

An alienation clause in a trust deed or mortgage is language that gives a mortgage lender the right to accelerate his loan; i.e., to demand to be immediately paid in full.  Alienate? Does that mean peeing on a Martian?  Haha!  No.  Alienate means to transfer any part of the title to the property to any other person or entity.  

 

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"Okaaaay, George, but your wealthy investor didn't buy the apartment building.  He didn't take any ownership interest in the property.  He didn't buy the property subject to the mortgage.  He merely placed a second mortgage on the property."

Mortgage lenders, modernly, define alienation to mean transferring all or part of the title to the property, placing a second mortgage on the property, obtaining a mezzanine loan secured by the membership interests of the LLC that owns the property, or issuing preferred equity to a preferred equity investor, without the lender's permission.

By the way, taking title to a property subject to a mortgage means that you don't notify the lender of the purchase and you don't assume the mortgage.

 

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Now back to my "crazy" mortgage investor who made that second mortgage on the apartment building.  Was he crazy?  If the underlying lender finds out, the lender could demand that the entire commercial loan be repaid in full.

Whether the investor is crazy depends on the size of the underlying first trust deed.  If my investor gets to earn 9% on a $1.5 million second trust deed investment, and if the underlying first trust deed was only $1.1 million, then my investor my investor was crazy like a fox.

By the way, you may have noticed that I used "trust deed" rather than "mortgage".  Texas is a trust deed state, which is a big deal.  It means a lender - especially a second trust deed lender - can foreclose much faster.

 

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Can you imagine making a $1 million second mortgage behind a $6 million first mortgage and then being forced to keep the underlying first mortgage current for the 18 months it takes to foreclose a mortgage in a mortgage state?  The monthly payments on a $6 million commercial loan are in the range of $38,000 per month.  After 18 months, the second mortgage lender would have to shell out $684,000 to protect a $1 million investment.  Yikes!

So if you are ever going to make a second mortgage investment, make sure that you are in a trust deed state, like California or Texas, and that your commercial loan is a second trust deed and not a mortgage.  This way you only have to keep the first trust deed current for five months or so while you foreclose.

In how much danger is my investor?  Even if the underlying bank somehow discovered the new second mortgage and accelerated its loan, my guy is rich enough to simply pay off the first mortgage - assuming it's not insanely large.    And in real life, very few banks ever bother to check the title to property securing their commercial loans for presence of a junior lien (mortgage, mezzanine loan, or preferred equity).

 

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The party who is real danger is the borrower.  Many large commercial loans these days are non-recourse; i.e., if the market goes south and the borrower loses the property in foreclosure, the borrower is NOT personally responsible for any loses the lender suffers after foreclosing.

This assumes, however, that the borrower doesn't commit any Bad Boy Acts.  Voluntarily placing a second mortgage on the property is a Bad Boy Act and will trigger a springing personal guaranty.  A springing personal guaranty is a guaranty that becomes effective upon the occurrence of a certain condition, e.g., a bankruptcy filing, toxically contaminating the property, intentional waste, etc.

 

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Suppose commercial real estate crashes by 45% (a magical number I urge you to remember).  The second mortgage lender decides to simply walk away from his investment.  The first mortgage investor forecloses, and in the chaos of the real estate crash (think the S&L Crisis, the Dot-Com Meltdown, and the Great Recession), the property gets neglected.  The roof leaks, and mold starts to grow.  Vandals break in and steal the copper and appliances.  Squatters poop in the halls.

The result is a huge loss for the first mortgage lender, and because of the springing personal guaranty, the lender can now come back against the borrower for his losses.  Word to the wise.  Don't commit Bad Boy Acts.

 

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Topics: acceleration clause

Commercial Loans and The War of the Worlds

Posted by George Blackburne on Thu, Apr 4, 2019

War of the WorldsWe're gonna have some fun today, and it's is not about commercial loans.  There is a good marketing lesson, however, to be learned today, whether you're a commercial broker, a general contractor, a real estate investor, or a commercial loan broker.  

Your marketing pieces do not always have to be about business.  The idea is to keep the name of your widget business in front of the customer.  

The most successful marketing piece I ever wrote was about the book, The Hot Zone, and how the Ebola virus almost killed us all.  You probably don't know this, but about 25 years ago the Ebola virus dangerously mutated in a lab in Restin, Virginia.  The Ebola virus became transmissible by air.  Holy poop!  No longer did you have to touch the blood.  Just breathing the same air would kill you.

 

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Dozens of monkeys in a research lab in Reston started bleeding out from their eyes, noses, mouths, and tailpipes; and then they would die.  The monkeys were in different rooms, so obviously the pathogen was traveling through the air ducts.  

The scientists doing the autopsies on the monkeys had no clue that the monkeys had been exposed to Ebola, so when their petri dishes started turning purple, they had no reluctance about sniffing the petri dishes for a contaminant that made the petri dishes smell like fermentation.

But when the scientists sniffed the petri dishes, they did NOT smell alcohol.  Hmmm.  What was happening?  So the scientists put the samples under an electron microscope, and - oh, my goodness - there was the Ebola virus.  It was now transmissible by air, and they had been taking big sniffs.

 

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Worse yet, these scientists had been going home every night and kissing their wives and kids.  And then the wives had gone to the grocery store, thumped melons, and handled vegetables.  They had spread the virus all over Restin.

So why didn't every person on earth die?  You'll have to read the book.  Okay, that was mean.  It was true.  The Ebola virus had indeed mutated to make it transmissible by air; but that same mutation made the virus harmless to humans (but still 100% fatal to primates).  The scientists were fine, and after spending three weeks in an isolation chamber, they were released.  

But today we are going to talk about H.G. Wells classic book, The War of the Worlds.  The book is about a Martian invasion of earth, and it was written... get ready for it... in 1898.  The Martians launched scores of huge cylinders from the surface of Mars that plowed into the Earth's crust and then unscrewed themselves back up to the ground.  Then these scary, slug-like creatures emerged, complete with slimy tentacles.

 

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When a peace deputation was sent in to make first contact, the Martians used a heat ray to melt the unfortunate envoys.  Remember, folks, this book was written in 1898, about 80 years before the first laser beam.  When the Army was sent in, they too were melted by the Martians.

Then the Martians unleashed giant, three-legged tripods - war machines that were were four-stories high, armored, and armed with a pivoting heat ray cannon.  The destruction of mankind began in earnest.

And we haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet...  Scroll forward 40 years to the year 1938.  People didn't have TV sets yet, so the whole family would sit in the living room and listen to radio shows.

 

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At the beginning of the one-hour show, Mercury Theater on the Air, the announcer, a 23-year-old Orson Wells, informed the listening audience that the coming show was just a story.  Then the radio began playing ordinary music, which was suddenly interrupted by a new flash from Orson Wells describing a pitiless invasion by creatures from Mars.

Many of the radio audience had been been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama.  The urgent, horrified performance by Orson Wells was so believable that almost one-million Americans poured into the streets in terror.

Haha!  The whole reason this came up is because I recently downloaded a modern, well-done performance of the War of the Worlds as an audiobook, complete with sound effects, multiple voice actors, and absolutely eerie music.  What fun!

 

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Be on the Lookout For Real Estate Developers Who Need Equity:

Please be on the lookout for real estate developers of multifamily, office, retail, or industrial projects who are just a little short of construction equity.  Banks will no longer lend up to 80% loan-to-cost.  For some properties, banks are demanding that the developer contribute as much as 35% of the total cost of the project as a condition of their construction loan.

Blackburne & Sons Realty Capital Corporation can raise tiny amounts of equity for such projects - up to $1.5 million to $2 million.  Got a deal that needs less than $1.5 million in additional equity, please call Angela Vannucci at 916-338-3232.

 

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Private Money Commercial Permanent's:

Notice that I did not describe our private loans as bridge loans, but rather as permanent loans.  Blackburne & Sons makes first mortgage loans with a 30-year amortization (essentially interest-only), but with a 15-year term.

This means that your borrower will never have a refinance his loan during a bad recession, when the value of his building might have fallen by 45% in value.  To make our loans even more attractive, there is no prepayment penalty.  In other words, you can use our loan as a bridge loan, with the added reassurance of the extra term.

 

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You can find literally thousands of hungry banks using C-Loans.com and our other free commercial loan portal, CommercialMortgage.com.

 

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Wished You Could Have Afforded College?

Is your four-year degree in advanced basket weaving?  If you are well-spoken and a natural salesman, you can earn a handsome income as a commercial mortgage broker.  You can learn the entire profession of commercial mortgage brokerage in one weekend.

Do you own a mortgage company or a real estate brokerage company?  If so, you should have in your library our 9-hour video training course ($549) in commercial real estate finance.  You just sit your new agent in front of a computer, and nine hours later he is in a position to make you money.  You can use our training course again and again.  This is what Les Agisim of Trevor Cole Financial does.  Over the years, he has trained thirty or forty agents using his one copy of our video training course.  

 

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By the way, Trevor Cole Financial just closed yesterday its 55th commercial loan for C-Loans.com.  Are you a commercial lender?  Get carefully-scrubbed commercial or SBA loan leads delivered to your email box at no out-of-pocket cost to you.   We are especially looking for bridge lenders capable of funding commercial loans larger than $1 million.  

 

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Topics: War of the Worlds