The following article has immensely helpful information for anyone in the commercial real estate business - be she a commercial loan broker, a commercial broker (you sell real estate), or an investor. The article is short, but it hits you with great tool after great tool (all free), bam-bam-bam. Prepare to be wowed:
Every broker or loan representative should know that timing is everything. In an effort to get a deal off the streets, a loan approval letter needs to be issued quickly. (George's comment: I just love that expression, "Get the deal off the street". That is so important!)
But what do you do when the borrower can’t get you every needed document in a timely manner? Do you have to wait until you get everything? Of course not. But it does involves work on your part.
Nowadays information is readily available at our fingertips. We just need to make the effort to get it, and we need to be creative about it. The internet is an amazing tool (Thanks Al Gore) that can pretty much get you anything you need.
One of the most important items needed for an underwriter is pictures of the property. There is no reason to wait until a borrower gets you property pictures. You can find property pictures on your own just by using Google Earth. Here, you are able to get not only street views of the property, but you also can get aerial views. In just a few minutes you can have those pictures ready. We also like to see the neighborhood, and Google Earth allows you to look down the street or across the street to see what is surrounding the property.
But be sure to watch out for the date of the picture. Most are recent, but we have found that sometimes the picture may be a year or two old, and since then the borrower maybe updated, remolded, painted or made other improvements to the property. If that is the case, be sure to explain that when you submit your deal (to a lender). You can always get updated pictures later - once the deal is off the street.
Another important item is property details. The borrower tells you he has an industrial building, but he doesn’t know the square footage or parcel size. He needs to dig up that information in his records (hopefully he is keeping them). Again, don’t wait if you can find it yourself. There are a few ways we have found to get this information. Our favorite is LoopNet. Did you know LoopNet has entire reports on property history, tenants, sq. footage, parcel size, unit mix, tax history and more? Better yet, it is free to use. All you have to do is log on to loopnet.com, enter the location address and before you know it you will have a plethora of information. This is also a great tool that can help you filter out good deals from bad deals. Maybe your borrower hasn’t been completely honest with you. LoopNet can provide you with history of mortgage defaults, unpaid property taxes and even tenant rental amounts.
In our office we also use Chicago Title Premier Services, another free service. Just go to https://premier.ctic.com/. On this site you can search title records by name, address, APN’s and even street names. You can pull title reports that show mortgage history, defaults, property tax status, sq. footage, lien holders, etc. You can also get photos and plat maps on this site. The reports also include comparable sales data, something an underwriter would greatly appreciate.
What else can you get online? Credit reports. Well, you can’t get one for someone else, but you can provide your borrower with different options to get a self-pulled credit report free of charge. Some sites that offer this are creditkarama.com, freecreditreport.com, Experian.com, Equifax.com and transunion.com. While the lender will still want to pull a tri-merge credit report in the future, providing one of these free reports will at least get the ball rolling and provide an idea of the credit worthiness of a borrower.
Last, but certainly not least is PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records. On Pacer you have to set up an account, but it is a relatively easy process. We use pacer often. On pacer you can get copies of any court documents needed. Is your borrower in Bankruptcy? If so, there is no need to wait for the borrower to request bankruptcy documents ffrom his attorney. You can go online, search their name and find those documents on your own. You can also find out about any law suit or even divorce proceedings. This is just another way to get needed documents quickly, so that you can get the deal off the street.
These are just a few tools to use to get what you need. There are many options available, you just have to put in the effort. If you are hungry to get your deals moving, this is how you do it.
I would love to take credit for this wonderful blog article; but it was written by the lovely and smart Angelica Gardner, the Executive Vice President of Blackburne & Sons, the head of our Loan Committee, and since I live in Indiana 2,000 miles away, arguably the de facto CEO of our company.
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