Survival Tips for the Nation’s Mortgage Brokers

With all of the commercial property loans maturing in the coming months, the most significant factor affecting commercial real estate financing is capital availability, as there is simply not enough money out there to meet all of the borrower requests that will be made. Therefore, only the best borrowers with the best requests (low leverage, good in-place cash flow, significant expertise, good guarantor global cash flows) will get loans.

Another issue: valuation. What was the property value when the last loan was placed on it? What is the property value today? What will the property value be in the future? These are all important questions that need to be answered. Will there be cash out? Does additional equity need to be brought to the table? Who will provide the new capital? Has cash flow or property condition deteriorated? The markets now see new CMBS lenders stepping up to address the gaps. Some are even quoting preferred equity and mezzanine structure again. Are we headed back to the mid 2000’s again? Probably not any time soon, but the cycle always seems to repeat itself.

As the world banking system becomes increasingly interconnected, how Europe will solve its financial issues will be as important as whether China will continue to be a source of financing for the world. This uncertainty caused a significant pullback in the market after an optimistic opening to 2011. Perhaps the recent improvement in the United States economy, with unemployment figures reaching three-year lows, will spur optimism that will allow credit to flow more freely.

The best source of funding for most transactions today is the local community bank or the recapitalized regional bank. CMBS lenders are also making a strong comeback but will not get close to their historic origination peaks for a while. Of course, the best lenders for multifamily units will continue to be government related entities such as FHA, SBA, FNMA, and FHLMC.

Because of significant unoccupied supply of most product types in most markets, construction financing will be difficult to obtain without a bond credit lease or significant pre-sales or pre-leasing in most markets for quite some time.

With many professional real estate developers and investors still facing legacy issues, today’s commercial mortgage professional should only focus on transactions that are likely to close. Many will look good on the surface but end up being “pie in the sky.”

The lack of a historic benchmark for the current market conditions and an inability to see the future with clarity will continue to constrain loan availability. This makes lending risky and is causing lenders to remain cautious. Only the best borrowers with significant equity can be capitalized. While lenders may say they are “flush with money,” they are still very conservative. As a result, in today’s market, lenders chase the best borrowers with rates and spreads bid to the minimum while many potential transactions never attract capital due to sponsorship or the current unpredictable nature of the property’s current of future cash flow. Stable cash flow is KING.