No Money Down Commercial Real Estate Deals

I am frequently asked if you can buy commercial real estate with no money down. My answer is yes, you can buy commercial real estate with no money down, however you need to be careful and conservative in your approach. The other big thing that you need is your creativity.  There are several no money down concepts including seller financing, using other people’s money, taking on a partner, utilizing home equity loans or lines of credit, wrap around financing, lease with option to buy, using private or hard money, assume some of the sellers debt, wholesaling properties and financing to 100 to 110 percent of the cost of the property through private lenders or USDA or VA loans. In the commercial real estate market, the two most common are seller financing and using other people’s money.

Seller financing is where the seller carries back a portion of or the entire purchase price. This is common in a market or economy where the banking industry has strict lending requirements making it very hard to get a loan.  When you approach a seller about carrying back financing you will want to point out to them the advantages of seller financing which are: they don’t have to take all of the gain immediately, they can delay some of the gain as you make your payments, saving them some taxes on the gain, the note you negotiate can be sold at any time if they want to get out of it for any reason, you can pay them a higher interest rate than if they put the money in the bank or invested it in bonds, they will have the real estate as security for their note and they can potentially save money on closing costs.

Using other people’s money is where you find an investor or investors who will front you all of the required money. The investors can be a family member, a friend or a business acquaintance. The investor is usually looking for a certain percentage return or ownership or both.  As you can see, the investor can be a lender and/or a partner, based on their wants and needs.  Using this method, in the beginning you will be pledging a lot of your profit, however as you get experience and a solid track record, you will find that you will keep more of the profits for yourself.  This method also requires that you put together a buying strategy and an exit strategy as your investors will want to know how long you will need their money and the return that they can expect.

One of the keys to no money down deals is that you need to bring something to the table.  Some of the things that you can bring are your time, your experience, your creativity, your intelligence, your connections, your education and/or your confidence.  As you do deals, all of these areas will grow, along with your bank account.

In my opinion, the best properties to do a no money deal with are those that have upside potential such as properties with 30% or more vacancy, properties with rents 40% or more below market, properties that you can expand because there is excess land or you can expand upward by adding levels and/or properties that have poor management where you can substantially cut expenses. These types of properties typically assure you that you can create immediate equity and/or cash flow through fixing a problem.  In other words, this is where you utilize your creativity to solve a problem that a particular asset has.  You need to learn how to see problems as opportunities.

I do not suggest that you buy a property for no money down that has a small initial return or breaks even or loses money on a monthly basis even if the property gives you tax advantages and cash flows after the tax advantages. If for some reason something goes wrong with the property and you have to put money into the property you will not appreciate this investment.

One of my favorite quotes when talking about no money down deals is “If you don’t think that you can do a no money down deal, then you can’t”.

As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me.  My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge.  Thank you for reviewing this blog.

Commercial Real Estate Lenders|Loan Criteria

The first thing that the commercial real estate lender does is determine if the loan fits into the lender’s risk guidelines and to gauge the risk the loan will present in terms of potential default. The greater risk that a loan possesses, the higher the reward or interest rate the lender will charge, and the more stringent the lenders guidelines will be for the loan.

To do this, every aspect of the loan is examined by the lender’s underwriter – the quality of the building, the income stream, and the quality of the borrower.

However, the property’s merits matter more than the borrower’s qualifications. Some of the items the lender considers are:

Curb appeal
The commercial real estate lender rates the property according to its current physical condition.

What is the “curb appeal” of the building or how does it look? Example: In the event of a foreclosure, an ugly building would be harder for a lender to sell than an attractive one, increasing the risk to the bank.

Who are the tenants and how long are the existing leases?

If the tenants leases are expiring 30 days after the loan closes, that represents more risk to the income stream of the building than leases that expire in three years. An example: a Home Depot as an anchor tenant with a long-term lease would score more points than a Dollar Store, which is typically on a shorter term lease.

What is the quality of the tenants, or their financial strength?
A project with Kmart as a tenant would have seemed very strong – until Kmart went into bankruptcy and closed locations. A space the size of Kmart is hard to rent out, which makes those buildings harder to sell at the price the lender needs to cover the defaulted loan.

A commercial real estate lender also reviews how long a tenant has been in business.

Remember, like any investor, a lender making a commercial real estate loan is making a risk/reward judgment.

The Borrower
Who is the borrower? While the key to commercial real estate loans is the net operating income the building produces, the quality of the borrower does come into play. An underwriter wants to know credit scores and whether the borrower has late payments, particularly on mortgages. Mortgage lates will be the death knell of a loan for a majority of lenders.

The lender will also look at a borrower’s liquid assets to determine their ability to come up with cash in emergencies, the borrower’s net worth, and the borrower’s experience.

But keep in mind that while the borrower’s financial strength comes into play, it’s priority number 3 after the property’s income and the quality of the property.

Quality of the Lease
A commercial real estate lender determines the quality of the lease by looking at number of years on the lease, renewal options, rental increases and whether the tenant reimburses for property taxes, insurance and maintenance.

Historical Performance of the Property
Lenders rate the quality of a property by how well it has been operating in the past. A lender usually favors a property that has at least 12 months of stable operation. They will also look at the occupancy history of the property as well as the market occupancy of similar properties in the area. The higher the occupancy, the lower the risk.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)
The major question a commercial real estate lender asks is: Does this building’s income service the loan amount with an appropriate level of debt service coverage?

To answer this question, the underwriter first determines the current Net Operating Income (NOI):

NOI = Gross rents – operating expenses

The operating expenses include property taxes, building insurance, building utilities, 5% of gross rents for vacancy, and 5% of gross rents for management of the building.

To determine the DSCR, the underwriter then uses the following formula:

DSCR = Net Operating Income (NOI) ÷ Annual Debt Service

The typical minimum level for debt service coverage is:
1.2x for multifamily properties
1.25x for other commercial property types

As a side note, consider the risk/reward thinking that goes into a lender’s decision based on DSCR. All things being equal, what represents a more attractive commercial real estate loan scenario, strictly according to DSCR: 1.25x coverage or the same building at a 1.35x coverage?

Sounds simplistic, but of course the higher coverage is better because it provides more of a cushion for the borrower who has to pay the debt service and creates a better situation for the lender in the event they have to foreclose and sell the building.

Loan amount vs  LTV
Loan to value (or LTV) is not a term that a commercial underwriter really considers when making a determination on the dollar amount of the commercial real estate loan that will be offered for a purchase. The key determination is going to be how the income of that building will service the debt of a certain loan amount.

Loan to Value Ratio = Mortgage Amount ÷ Appraised Value of Property

Of course, other factors, such as an outside appraisal, come into play when an underwriter is calculating loan amount, but DSCR is going to be the key number. Without a coverage ratio at an acceptable level, the other factors become irrelevant.

Cap Rate (Capitalization Rate)
The Cap Rate is used by the underwriter, as well as the investor or borrower, to get some idea of the value of the building and whether it has a good chance to appraise at an appropriate value. The Cap Rate for the given area can be used in conjunction with the NOI of the building.

Cap Rate = Net Operating Income (NOI) ÷ Actual Purchase Price

If you are trying to determine a Cap Rate for the market, contact a local commercial real estate appraiser or contact a local commercial real estate broker that specializes in the type of product that you are purchasing.

As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me, I truly want to help. My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge. Thank you for reviewing this blog.

Conventional Loans to Buy Commercial Real Estate

A conventional loan is a loan obtained from a conventional lender. Conventional lenders include commercial banks, savings and loan banks, mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, insurance companies and pension funds.

Commercial Banks – They tend to lend locally and are usually very conservative in their lending practices. Very often they ask for higher down payments, give shorter loan terms and have stricter guidelines.

Savings & Loan Banks – They also tend to lend locally, but are usually a little more aggressive than a commercial bank. The items that they can most often do for you is less down payment, lower out of pocket costs because they do everything in-house, lower interest rates because they lend from customer deposits and they tend to be a little more flexible and make exceptions to get a deal done.

Mortgage Brokers – They act as middlemen and shop your loan to their many financing sources which include banks, insurance companies, pension funds and mortgage bankers. They can generally save you time and money and expose you to the most flexible programs such as interest only loans, no document loans and low debt coverage ratio loans. They also work on a commission only basis, meaning they only get paid if you close the loan, whereas other lenders get paid whether you close a loan with them or not.

Mortgage Bankers – They are usually a part of a large financial institution and loan on a national basis using favorable interest rates and sell wholesale to mortgage brokers.

Insurance Companies and Pension Funds – They tend to lend on larger projects requiring bigger loans at very low rates. These lenders typically take a long time to approve and close the loan. If you have a large requirement they can be your best source of funding.

There are many types of conventional loans for commercial properties that are available. Here are the most common types:

Long Term Loans – These loans are up to 10 years in length, are fixed rate loans, usually have a prepayment penalty and are typically amortized over 30 years.

Short Term Loans – These loans are typically up to 3 years in length, have lower interest rates than long term loans and are typically amortized for less than 30 years. This loan may suit you if you plan on selling the property within a short period of time and overall would cost you less because it doesn’t have a prepayment penalty.

Conduit Loans – These loans usually have low interest rates, with long amortization periods and can be nonrecourse loans. Nonrecourse means that you are not personally liable for the loan. These are good for properties that are stable with credit tenants.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans – These loans are insured by the SBA, given through SBA approved lenders and they have some of the most favorable terms such as low down payments, lengthier loan terms, as much as 40 year amortizations and low interest rates. Most of these loans are given to owners who occupy at least 51% of the property and can be used as a construction loan if you occupy at least 60% of the building.

Construction Loans – These loans are taken out to fund the construction of a project to completion or leasing to a certain percentage. These loans are usually done on a draw basis where the lender funds as the project is being built, have interest only payments and are usually for one to three years in length. Usually, they require a take-out loan commitment at the end of the term.

Mezzanine Loans – Most of these loans go with a permanent or construction loan, as lenders won’t exceed 80 percent loan-to-value. These loans stack on top of the other loan to get you up to a 90 percent loan-to-value. These are usually done on larger projects and they are typically not secured by a mortgage or deed of trust, but they are secured by a security agreement against the ownership’s stock in the LLC.

This will give you a clear understanding of a mezzanine loan:

Bridge Loans – These loans are short term financing used to bridge the gap between finding a permanent loan and closing the permanent financing. They help to fund deals quickly.

Stated Income/No Documentation Loans – This type of loan doesn’t require borrowers to show proof of monthly income or income tax returns. This typically requires that you have good credit, the property must have solid cash flow and the property must be in excellent shape.

Hard Money Loans – These loans typically require a large down payment, have high interest rates and require you to pay three to ten points for the loan. These loans can usually close quickly and don’t require good credit. You might use this loan if you have found a really good deal and need money quickly.

As you can see there are many types of loans. It is important that you match the loan to you’re plan for the property. Using leverage or borrowing money on the property can be a good thing if used in the proper manner and matched to your goals. The wrong loan for the property can be a disaster waiting to happen.

As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me.  My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge.  Thank you for reviewing this blog.

Creative Financing to Buy Commercial Real Estate

Creative financing is any type of financing other than getting a conventional loan with a standard down payment. Creative financing techniques and the benefits of each include the following:

Master Lease Technique – You master lease the property by paying the owner a set amount each month, and you manage the property as if you own it. You also negotiate an option to buy, usually at a price at or near the current market value of the property. Your goal is to increase the income and create cash flow as well as increasing the value over the leased period of time, usually a three to five year period. This method is used mostly when an owner doesn’t want to pay taxes on his gain at the present time, but is tired of owning and managing the property.

Seller Financed Firsts – The seller carries back a first loan on the property. The benefit to the seller is that they only have to pay taxes on their capital gain based on the principal amount paid back each month. A good thing about this financing is that you not only don’t have to qualify with a lender, but the interest rate is negotiable. You can often negotiate a very low interest rate for two to five years.

Seller Financed Seconds – This can work in a couple of ways: One way is that the seller carries back a second mortgage on the property. In this situation, you are usually assuming the first, so that you don’t have to go out and get a new loan.

In another scenario, you’re getting a new loan and the seller agrees to carry back part of the purchase price as a second mortgage. This method is especially viable if the seller doesn’t want all cash when he sells the property. By carrying a second, he can get his money at any time that the two of you can agree upon. This can be in the form of a balloon payment at some future date, principal only payments, interest only payments, low interest rates, etc.

Secondary Financing By Other Sources – A conventional lender or a private lender provides you with the funds for your second mortgage. In these transactions, you can expect to pay points, fees and generally a higher interest rate. This method is good if you need quick cash to close a good deal ahead of your competition. The negative on this financing is that you may over leverage yourself in the property and have a negative cash flow, a situation you always want to avoid.

Wraparound Mortgages – The seller gets one payment from you every month to pay the amount due on the first mortgage and to pay the second mortgage due him. This gives the seller assurances that the first mortgage is being paid if they are still named on the loan and gives them the right to foreclose or take back the property if you default on the payments.

Options – An agreement with a seller that gives you the right to buy the property at a set price for a certain period of time. Typically, sellers will give you this for an upfront payment, ongoing payments to cover certain expenses or as a throw in to another property that you bought from them.

Blanket Mortgages – You offer the seller or the lender the added security of the equity you have in other properties as collateral for this loan. You use this method when you don’t have a solid track record for a lender or seller to look at. Be careful when doing this, because you are putting the other property at risk.

Funding With IRAs – You can set up a self-directed IRA account from which you can invest in real estate. Note that there are strict rules regarding what you can and can’t do when using these funds.

Remember that creative financing is typically a negotiated item.  Most property owners do not typically offer this financing upfront.  Establish rapport with the broker or seller and approach them understanding their wants and needs.  Sometimes you are presenting them with a solution to a problem they didn’t realize they had or realized it, but didn’t see the solution.  Never be afraid to ask, because if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.  Life and real estate are a negotiation.  Good luck in creatively financing your deals.

As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me.  My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge.  Thank you for reviewing this blog.

Commercial Real Estate Financing

Financing sources for commercial real estate include mortgage banking firms, savings and loan institutions, regional banks, insurance companies, and private investors.

Commercial real estate financing can take on very different terms, and the way deals are structured is based on a number of factors, including:

•    Anticipated use of the property
•    Anticipated returns from the property
•    Geography
•    Type of real estate
•    Size of real estate
•    Perceived risk to lender
•    Market conditions

Each of these areas must be examined by the buyer prior to seeking commercial real estate financing.  Buyers then need to examine the type of loans offered by lenders in accordance with their needs and anticipated growth.  Unlike obtaining financing for residential real estate where the transaction is based on the value of the home at the time of the sale, commercial real estate financing will be based – in part – on the value of the business in the future.

While some lenders specialize in specific types of commercial ventures, such as retail operations, warehouses, or apartment complexes, others provide across-the-board financing to a wide variety of commercial ventures.

For the potential borrower, the key to starting the process is to have the necessary paperwork in order.  Despite the many types of financing and types of commercial real estate, lenders remain primarily concerned with the level of risk they’ll be taking.  Therefore, they must see the following documentation:

•    Income and expense statement for the property demonstrating a solid income stream
•    Financial statements on all principals involved as owners of the property
•    Profiles of the management team
•    Property appraisal
•    Financial statements on the borrowing entity
•    Plans, including construction blueprints (if available) for the use of the property.

Here is an example of submission requirements for a mid-size income-producing property (amount of loan $200,000 – $5,000,000):

•    Completed Loan Application
•    Credit Report
•    Three year historical Property Income and Expense Statements
•    Current Rent Roll.  Rent Roll should include tenant names, square feet, start and end dates of leases, reimbursements, monthly rents and vacancies
•    Current Financial Statements for each principal/guarantor
•    Purchase Contract
•    Most recent two years corporate and personal Tax Returns

As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me.  My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge.  Thank you for reviewing this blog.