Commercial Mortgage Broker Fee Agreement

Now having a good commercial mortgage broker agreement in place with your borrower is more important than ever. As CMBS lenders like Lehman, Silver hill, etc have been taking the worst of it, we as commercial mortgage brokers are now forced to originate our commercial mortgages through traditional sources, i.e. regional or smaller banks.

These banks that for years saw their market share shrink are now in control. Many of them never bothered to increase their risk thresholds and or change their underwriting guidelines to stay competitive. They are now reaping the rewards of that prudence. Bottom line, they still have money to lend and many times their rates are considerable better than the rest of the market.

The challenge however for commercial brokers is that most of these smaller banks are not broker friendly. Or more accurately stated most of them are not set up to work with brokers like the CMBS lenders. For example it’s very rare that a smaller bank will pay rebate or ysp. Once in a while you may find a bank that will pay a .5% or 1% referral fee, but that’s it and it’s rare to find.

Rather many of these banks expect you to get paid on top of their 1% bank fee. Or worse many of them will want you to make your fee outside of close… When was the last time you chased a borrower for a $15,000 commission? If you don’t have it set up right from the beginning you will have a difficult time ever collecting. And besides collecting you will have a hell of a time competing on the deal.

So the point here, besides that this current market reality is not a lot of fun, is that if you think you’ll have to take your deals to a local banks, you’d better have your commercial mortgage broker fee agreement signed and in place before you bother to work on the deal.

Commercial Brokers – Adjusting to the Pain of the Property Market Today

This commercial property market presents most agents and property owners with a few challenges. That being said, opportunities always exist for those that work hard and look deep enough for a solution.

When the commercial and retail property market gets tougher there are some rules that should generally be worked through:

  1. Existing tenants are the lifeblood of the income and the cash flow for the property. Those tenants are also likely to be under some pressure in similar ways to the property owner. Flexibility in lease terms and conditions is required to ensure that good tenants stay in the property for the medium term. It is better to have a tenant paying 80% rent than a long term vacancy that pays nothing.
  2. Any anchor tenants will be important to the stability of a property that includes smaller specialty tenants. This is the case in retail property. Special management procedures are required. Work closely with any anchor tenants to ensure that their occupancy remains stable and productive. A successful anchor tenant attracts people to the retail property.
  3. Market rent reviews should be negotiated with a view to tenant stability; that means sensible and flexible rent terms that work for the tenant and the landlord. There is always a compromise situation that can be achieved when it comes to a rent review. If a landlord gives the tenant some leeway or benefit, then the tenant should be asked for some benefit back to the landlord (renovation, longer lease term, exercise of option, etc).
  4. Negotiate any lease options as early as possible to ensure that the existing tenants do not look to move elsewhere. Other landlords will be on the hunt for tenants for their properties.
  5. The maintenance of an existing property should be watched and managed well. There is a fine balance between low maintenance levels that destroy property usage and productivity, versus delayed maintenance that keeps presentation at reasonable levels for tenants and customers. When people and businesses move away from a property due to low levels of maintenance and presentation, it is a hard trend to stop.
  6. Incentives for any new lease will encourage new tenants to a property; they will also help existing tenants to potentially take up a new lease in the same premises that they currently occupy now. It is important to keep a check on existing incentives being offered by other landlords in the same general location. Do not lose your good tenants to another landlord for the sake of a few thousand dollars in rent. The vacancy downtime will cost you a lot more.

When the property market gets slower or tougher, all parties involved in property investment and occupation should cooperate and be open to more flexible lease terms and conditions. In this way they can spread the property pain and maintain a reasonable cash flow in slower times.

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.

Commercial Mortgage – 5 Factors That Affect Deal Flow

Niagara Falls or babbling brook. How is your flow? How do you get commercial mortgage clients in the door? Do you have the budget and time to undertake a massive marketing campaign? Could experience with multiple property types and applications increase your value to the commercial market? Where are your deals located? How is the market in your area? Is your referral network bringing you enough business? These are all questions you need to consider when you think about how to increase your deal flow.

Of course every commercial loan you work will not close; that is not the reality of the commercial mortgage industry. You need to be in front of the right people at the right time with the right solution to even be considered. Here are the 5 main factors that affect your deal flow which ultimately affects your cash flow. The first step is awareness; knowing what the issues are will allow you to determine a solution. Rate yourself in each of these areas:

-Referrals: Referrals are king in the mortgage industry. This is by far the number one way for a commercial broker to get business. This certainly works well for those that have been in the industry for years and have a large network, but what about those new to the industry? Can you survive waiting on someone to refer you when no one knows you exist?

-Marketing: This is how we let our potential clients know who we are and that we can provide them with a solution for their commercial financing needs. The problem is that there are hundreds of other solutions out there all competing for the same client. Without the budget and knowledge to do it right, it is very difficult to get a good return on your marketing investment.

-Expertise: What you know and how long you have been in the business has a dramatic affect on deal flow. Of course, those that have been in the commercial business for 10 years have a greater client base and referral network. You can’t buy experience, no matter how much you spend, but what you can get is training. Through continuing training, especially at the beginning of your commercial career, you can build the knowledge it takes to get the deals done. Share that knowledge with your potential clients and you have set yourself up as the expert in the field, despite your lack of experience.

-Geography: It is no surprise that by serving a larger geographic area, you will be exposed to more deals. However, without the support of a large national company this is very difficult and potentially cost prohibitive. The downside of most national commercial finance companies is that by bringing the deals to you they will expect something in return. Often a big chunk of your commission. It’s a catch 22, you get more clients, but now you need even more than before just to break even.

-The Market: Some markets are hot and some are cold that is the reality of the industry. If you are only serving a small geographic area and that area goes cold, what do you do? The key is to ensure that your client base is as diverse as possible, not only by location, but by property type and industry.
What to do?

Build your commercial finance business. Start by looking at the percentages that each of the above are contributing to your total deal flow and set targets for the coming year as to what you want the percentages to look like. For example, if referrals now make up 10 percent of your total business, set your targets for 20% next year and establish the game plan to do it.

For marketing, are you tracking a cost per closed loan? Do you know what you’re spending for the revenue you’re generating? Begin to cull out the sources that are not generating the returns you require.

When looking at geography, start to examine how you can expand the markets you serve. This will both increase your deal flow and minimize a downward movement in any one particular market. In effect, it is diversifying your portfolio. Look for a partner that can introduce you to new markets and provide you with lead sources into those markets.

In summary, deal flow in the commercial mortgage industry is driven by your presence. When the market knows you’re there and do quality work, your flow will build exponentially. The next step is to formulate your plan to increase that presence and identify the partners that can help you do it.