Commercial Loans Blog

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.

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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!).


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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.

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