Commercial Loans Blog

Valuing Apartment Buildings

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Jul 20, 2009

Here Are Some Quick Valuation Methods Used By Commercial Real Estate Brokers and Appraisers

Suppose you are a commercial loan broker or commercial mortgage banker. A commercial borrower comes to you and applies for a multifamily loan on his 32-unit apartment building. He absolutely needs $3 million in apartment financing. Is his commercial loan request reasonable, or is he wasting your time?

If you knew approximately how much his apartment building was worth, you could quickly check the loan-to-value ratio to make sure that it didn't exceed 75%. Few multifamily lenders, other than Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, will make apartment loans in excess of 75% LTV today.

One quick technique is the Gross Rent Multiplier. Take the annual rent of the apartment project and multiply it by the typical multiplier for your area. For example, suppose the annual gross rents for this project are $500,000 (about $1,300 per month per unit). If apartment buildings in this area are selling for a Gross Rent Multiplier of between 7 and 9 and the project is just of average quality, you might multiply $500,000 by 8 to give you a rough estimate of value of $4 million. A loan request of $3 million versus a $4 million value (75% LTV) is about the maximum loan amount that the borrower could hope to get.

Free List of 3,159 Commercial Lenders  Sort By Your Own Criteria

Another technique is a market approach to valuation called the Price Per Unit. Suppose comparable apartment projects in this area are selling for $90,000 to $130,000 per unit. Because the subject apartment building is average and it is located in an average area of town, you might choose to use $110,000 per unit.  Thirty-two units times $110,000 per unit gives you an estimated value of around $3.52 million. Gee, a $3 million loan against a $3.52 million property isn't looking too promising. If you're busy, maybe you don't take on this loan, especially if the borrower absolutely must get $3 million.

"But, George, my office is located in Billings, Montana. I don't have a clue how much apartment buildings are selling for per unit in Atlanta, Georgia."

Here's a trick. The commercial brokerage firm of Marcus & Millichap (marcusmillichap.com) is well-known for refusing to take listings on over-valued multifamily properties. In other words, if the market value of an apartment building is $3 million, they won't list the building for $4 million.  So go to their web site, find some nearby and comparable apartment buildings, and determine the listing price per unit. Then you should probably reduce the price per unit by 7% to 10% to get a rough estimate of the market.  You can do the same thing using LoopNet.com.

Another commercial property valuation technique, the Capitalization Method, could be used to value the multifamily property. Suppose the borrower hands you a fact sheet containing a reasonable looking pro forma operating statement. If you knew that apartment buildings were selling in that area for 5.75% to 6.75% cap rates, you could merely divide the NOI by the cap rate to arrive at a rough estimate of the value of the building. For example, suppose the borrower provides you with a reasonable-looking pro forma perating statement. According to his own numbers, his NOI is just $220,000 per year. If you divide $220,000 in net operating income by an estimated market cap rate of 6.25%, you'll get around $3.5 million.

This borrower is probably hosed. He has a $3 million ballooning loan, and yet the building is only worth around $3.5 million. Unless this guy can bring another $400,000 in equity to the closing table, he may end up losing the apartment building in foreclosure. His best bet is to plead with the lender for an extension or a loan modification. By quickly valuing the property, you may have saved yourself a lot of wasted effort.


If you need a loan on apartment building, you can apply to 750 commercial lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.com.

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

Dismal State of Commercial Loans and Commercial Lenders

Posted by George Blackburne on Wed, Jul 1, 2009

Comments at a Recent Banking Conference

“Last week, I hosted a meeting of mortgage lenders,” continued last night’s emcee. “They got together all the mortgage lenders in Britain who are still in business. I felt sorry for the guy. All alone…

“Today, a guy goes into a bank and he says… ‘I’d like to talk to you about a loan…’ and the banker says to him, ‘Great…how much can you lend us?’

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, commercial real estate financing, commercial lender, commercial financing

Commercial Real Estate Values Falling Sharply

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Jun 30, 2009

Interesting Report from National Mortgage News Online

No one can be terribly surprised that the other shoe has finally fallen.  According to a June 22nd report from National Mortgage News Online:

Commercial Real Estate Prices Fall 8.6% in April

Commercial real estate prices as measured by Moody's/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices decreased 8.6% in April, leaving the index at 25.3% below its level a year ago and 29.5% below the peak in prices measured in October 2007.

According to Moody's, the large negative return for April likely reflects that deals closed during that month were negotiated at the end of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009, when securities markets and overall sentiment were plunging. "The size of April's decline, following a 5.5% decline in January, also suggests that sellers are beginning to capitulate to the realities of commercial real estate markets," says Moody's managing director Nick Levidy.

The South has been the worst performing region over the last year, with an annual decline of more than 20%. Commercial real estate has performed worse in Southern California than in the Western region as a whole. In Southern California, the office market has been the worst performer, with prices dropping 22.2% in the last year.

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

Foreclosures and Junior Liens

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Jun 29, 2009

Just Learned an Interesting New Term of Art - Lien Clearing

As a hard money commercial lender, Blackburne & Brown has to foreclose on about ten to fifteen commercial properties every year. Contrary to what you may think, we never make money when we foreclose on property - never. I wish we didn't have to do it, but it's a necessary evil in this industry.

After foreclosing on ten to fifteen properties every year for the past twenty-five years, I have noticed an interesting fact. Hardly no one ever bids at commercial foreclosure sales. We have sold a commercial property at a foreclosure sale just once in twenty-five years.

Therefore, if you are the holder of a junior lien on a commercial property that goes to a foreclosure sale by the first mortgage ... well, you're toast. No one is going to over-bid the amount of the first mortgage. You will almost surely be wiped out by the foreclosure.

This week we foreclosed on an office in the foothills of the Sierras. It's a beautiful building. There was a $2 million second mortgage behind our $3.3 million first mortgage, and this second mortgage loan was completely wiped out.

We also wiped out a $350,000 mechanics lien that was junior to our loan.

As we prepared for the foreclosure, one of our attorneys used an interesting term: lien-clearing. Our successful foreclosure cleared off the title to the property and left us owning the property free and clear of any competing claims for the property.

The junior lienholders, in my opinion, made a fatal error when they failed to cure our senior loan. The second mortgage holder and the mechanics lien holder should have banded together and each chipped in enough dough to payoff our first mortgage.

Instead, they went to the foreclosure sale hoping that someone would over-bid our first mortgage. In real life, this never happens.

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, commercial mortgage loans, commercial mortgage rates, commercial lender, foreclosure of a second mortgage, commercial financing

Commercial Financing and Estoppel Agreements

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, Jun 1, 2009

The Rent Might Not Be What the Borrower is Representing

Suppose you're a commercial lender, and you foreclose on commercial building. The good news is that the building still has a tenant. According to the lease in your commercial loan file, the tenant is obligated to pay $10,000 per month. Hooray.

Now the bad news. The tenant advises you that the lease in your commercial loan file is fraudulent. In order to obtain commercial financing, the borrower submitted a dummy lease. The tenant's signature on the dummy lease was forged. The real rent is only $2,700 per month! Ouch.

Okay, what did the lender do wrong? The commercial lender should have obtained an estoppel agreement from the tenant before making his loan.

What on earth does estoppel mean anyway? Estoppel is a a rule of evidence whereby a person is barred from denying the truth of a fact that has already been settled. To understand this definition, let's take a look at our current situation.

Suppose we had sent an Estoppel Agreement to the tenant that said that the rent was $10,000 per month, the lease was still in force, the lease still had ten years to run, and the landlord had performed all of his required duties under the lease. If the tenant had signed the Estoppel Agreement, agreeing that the lease terms described in the Estoppel Agreement were the actual lease terms, then the tenant would have been bound by the fraudulent lease terms, rather than the terms of the true lease.

The lack of prepaid rent is another item that needs to be addressed in the estoppel agreement. Suppose the tenant recorded his lease, so the lease was senior to the mortgage. Right before the commercial property owner loses the property in foreclosure, the owner approaches the tenant and say, "Say, I'm in a cash crunch.  You owe me $100,000 in rent for the rest of the year. I will reduce my rent to just $60,000 if you prepay it now." The tenant would be sorely tempted to accept that offer.

If the commercial lender then foreclosed, the commercial lender would be forced to honor the deal made by the prior owner, even if the former commercial property owner took the $60,000 and spent it on cocaine for his trashy girlfriend.

This is one of the reasons why commercial lenders do not like to be subordinate to recorded commercial leases.


Need a commercial loan? You can apply to hundreds of commercial lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.com. And C-Loans is free!

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, commercial real estate financing, commercial mortgage rates, estoppel agreement, lease estoppel, commercial financing

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.


Need a commercial loan? You can apply to 750 different commercial lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.com. And C-Loans is free!

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

Free Software to Make Commercial Loan Packages

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, May 18, 2009

Make a PDF of Your Commercial Loan Package and Email It to Scores of Commercial Lenders

If you are a commercial mortgage broker, you just have to use the new PDF-creator software on C-Loans to make your commercial loan packages. It's free!

Just input your commercial loan into C-Loans.com as usual. Go ahead and submit your commercial loan to six commercial lenders.

After you have submitted your commercial loan to six commercial lenders, an option will appear that allows you to create a PDF with just one click. After your commercial loan package has been converted to a PDF, simply save it to your desktop.

Once the commercial loan PDF is on your desktop, you can then create an email addressed to 40 or so commercial lenders and attach the PDF.

You can even attach color photo's to your commercial loan package, making it look very, very professional. And remember, both C-Loans.com and this software are free.

Topics: commercial loan, commercial real estate financing, commercial loan packaging software, commercial mortgage software, commercial financing, commercial mortgage

Financing Broken Condo's

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, May 12, 2009

A Broken Condo is a Project That Didn't Sell Out

Commercial loan brokers should be on the look-out for broken condo projects. There is a good chance to make a nice commercial loan brokerage commission.

A broken condo project is a residential condominium project that didn't sell out. The unsold units are usually converted back to multifamily rental housing.

I spoke with a major commercial loan officer at a large bank today. This bank makes portfolio apartment loans. I asked him if it is possible to finance broken condo's.

His reply surprised me. He indicated that, of course, that if none of the condo units were sold, that a normal apartment loan is a no-brainer.

But he also indicated that if only a handful of the units were sold that a portfolio loan on the rental units would be possible.

However, he stressed that if too many of the units were sold as condo's that such a deal would be impossible. How many is too many? Certainly if 25% of the condo units had been sold, the deal would be difficult to finance. I was left with the clear impression that if only 10% to 15% of the condo's had been sold that his bank would definitely consider financing the apartments.


Need a commercial or multifamily loan? You can apply to hundreds of commercial lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.  And C-Loans.com is free!

Topics: commercial real estate loan, commercial loan, broken condo, commercial mortgage lenders, commercial mortgage rates, commercial mortgage

Hard Money Commercial Loans Are Getting Smaller

Posted by George Blackburne on Mon, May 11, 2009

It's Getting More Difficult for Hard Money Lenders to Raise Lending Capital

If you are commercial mortgage broker, you should not be trying to place large, hard money, commercial loans. Large commercial loans just aren't closing these days.

One of the reasons why is because hard money commercial lenders are having a difficult time raising money. Before the real estate crash of 2007, most hard money commercial loan brokers raised their money using mortgage funds. When the markets crashed, all of their depositors try to pull their money out of these funds. The situation has not improved since October of 2007.

Free List of 3,159 Commercial Lenders  Sort By Your Own Criteria

Therefore very few hard money commercial lenders still have mortgage funds with which to make large commercial loans. Instead, if a hard money commercial lender wants to fund a commercial loan today, he has to syndicate a fresh group of private mortgage investors. This is a whole lot of work.

Therefore very few hard money commercial lenders are making commercial loans larger than $3 million today.


Need a commercial loan? You can apply to 750 different banks and hard money commercial lenders in just four minutes using C-Loans.

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

Commercial Real Estate is Valued Using Cap Rates

Posted by George Blackburne on Thu, Apr 30, 2009

Cap Rate is Short for Capitalization Rate

You have probably heard the term cap rate many times, but what does it mean? Here's an easy way to understand the concept as it applies to commercial real estate. A cap rate is simply the return on your investment if you bought a commercial property for all cash.

Free List of 3,159 Commercial Lenders  Sort By Your Own Criteria

For example, let's suppose that you buy for $1 million an office building that is leased out to an insurance broker. The insurance broker pays you $9,000 per month in rent, but there are also expenses, like real estate taxes, insurance, property management and a small reserve where you set aside money every year to eventually replace the roof and the HVAC system. Let's assume your net operating income (NOI) is $77,000 per year.

To compute the cap rate at which you bought the building, you merely divide your anticipated NOI by your purchase price.  In this case, $77,000 divided by $1,000,000 is 0.077. To express this cap rate as a percentage, we merely multiply 0.077 by 100% to produce a cap rate of 7.70%.

In plain English, a 7.70% cap rate means that you - as a passive commercial real estate investor - will earn a 7.7% annual return on your $1 million investment in this commercial property. Please also remember that for the purposes of computing a cap rate that you should assume that the buyer did not use a commercial real estate loan to finance the property.

You can't use the same cap for every commercial property. Some commercial properties are far more desirable than others. For example, let's suppose that Microsoft Corporation was the tenant on this property, and they signed a lease for 20 years. Arguably Microsoft is one the strongest credit tenants in America. If you - as the owner of the commercial property - had a lease with a strong, credit tenant, other investors would be very envious of you. In fact, they would offer you a lot of money for this property, perhaps as much as $1,800,000.

Now remember, the net operating income is still just $77,000 per year. If you sold the commercial building to another commercial real estate investor, who wanted a very reliable income stream, for a whopping $1,800,000 - he would be buying this same commercial property for just a 4.3% cap rate. Would someone really buy a piece of commercial real estate with a cap rate of just 4.3%? Maybe ... if indeed the property was leased to a major credit tenant for twenty years. By the way, a credit tenant is usually publicly traded or a large private entity with a strong S&P rating.

On the other hand, suppose you owned an old industrial building in a seedy part of town that was leased to an auto parts manufacturer. Suppose this auto parts manufacturer sold its parts mainly to General Motors, and the auto parts company wasn't making a lot of money. Let's further suppose that the neighborhood immediately surrounding your property was filled with prostitutes and drug dealers.

Even if this property was generating the same $77,000 in net operating income, you might not be able to sell the property for very much money. Any potential buyer might think to himself, "Geesh, if I drive over to collect the rents or to check on the condition of my property, I'm putting my life in danger. Yuck." This investor might not be willing to buy the property for less than a 12% cap rate.  Seventy-seven thousand dollars divided by 12% is just $641,000.

Remember, the more desirable the commercial property, the lower the cap rate a buyer will require before he buys it.

Topics: commercial loan, commercial mortgage rates, commercial lender, capitalization rate, cap rate, commercial property loan, commercial mortgage