Brokering Commercial Mortgages – What It’s Really Like

Brokering commercial mortgages certainly can have its perks. It is generally viewed as a very prestigious profession and brokers get to deal with highly sophisticated borrowers on most of their transactions. The income potential is truly uncapped as well as some of the seasoned commercial brokers bring home over 7 figures. This is without having a lot of fixed expenses or a large support staff to manage. It’s no wonder that so many residential brokers are entering the market as their side of the business is still taking the brunt of the capital market woes.

However this is a tough and competitive business and one should not fool themselves that it will be a cake walk. Rather new commercial brokers need to be prepared and need to know exactly what they are doing. One of the main differences we hear from residential brokers is the lack of conformity from one lender to the next, in both process and underwriting guidelines. Also, the lack of broker protection is alarming to many newbie’s as they learn that many banks will not accept deals from brokers or allow them to get paid on the settlement statements. Rather some banks will expect brokers to get paid outside of close and directly from the borrower.

New commercial loan brokers have to become very efficient in all aspects of the business but especially in pre screening deals. Every time you work on a loan you are investing your time into it and if it has a low (or no) probability of closing you will quickly be hard pressed. It is so easy to work on un-fundable deals. Often the borrower has been through the “wringer” and will be very willing and pleasant to work with. All along they are playing poker with you and not telling you that they’ve been to 10 other banks and 3 other brokers and no one can get it done. So in protecting themselves they will waste your time. So, the successful broker will collect the whole package, sit down with it for 20 minutes and make a couple of decisions 1. Can I get this done? 2. If yes, do I want to work on this deal.

The most complicated part of prescreening loan requests is being able to extract all income out of the borrower’s tax returns that can be used to service the proposed mortgage. A lot has been written about calculating DCR (divide the NOI by the debt service) but how do you really get to the NOI. This is often more complicated on owner occupied transaction than on investment deals. This goes beyond just adding back depreciation or interest. The broker has to be very good at reviewing the entire set of tax returns, which on most owner occupant deals is a combination of personal, business and the real estate entities returns.

It’s important to remember that most deals get deigned due to lack of sufficient income.

The other major part of this is after the broker has a good understanding of the borrowers loan request, they need to know which bank or lender to take it to. Again this goes beyond just the banks matrix or published guidelines. The broker needs to know what the bank really likes. The last thing you want is the phone call from the bank, 3 months into the deal, that underwriting has canned the deal for BS, random reasons. And, unfortunately, this does happen all the time. Again you need to really know what the lenders appetite is and what they are really funding so you avoid this and get paid for all of your hard work.