How to Find the Right Commercial Real Estate Broker

One of the things that can really catapult your success investing in apartments and commercial real estate is working with the right commercial broker. Finding a great deal is really all about the numbers, and getting more deals across your desk. Working with the right commercial broker will not only save you time, but make you a lot of money by getting opportunities in front of you.

So the question is, “How do you find the right commercial broker?”

I will “bottom line” this for you and make it easy. Make sure you find a broker that does nothing but investment real estate and specializes in it. DO NOT use a broker that is a “jack of all trades,” meaning going from an open house on a Sunday to chatting with you about the 320 unit property on Monday.

You want someone that does nothing but spends time in the investment real estate world.

Why?

The specialized knowledge that a commercial broker has will be able to get you more GOOD opportunities to look at and because they know the market will be able to identify properties that can be very profitable. A good broker can also assist you in developing ways to purchase the property where you are making money at the closing table too. Plus they will help you avoid some of the common investment mistakes, as well.

This, more than any other of my “rules” is violated, and the investors that do violate this many times pay for it too. Make sure that you are not one of them.

Commercial Broker Fee Agreement – Exclusive Or Non Exclusive?

Commercial mortgage brokers are constantly asking themselves if they should ask their clients for an exclusive relationship or go the “easier route” and secure a non exclusive fee agreement. What’s the difference? What’s the pros and con’s of both? That’s the point of this brief article.

An exclusive relationship within the commercial mortgage field can be thought of as a listing agreement within the real estate brokerage side of the business. Or more specifically the exclusive agreement should be thought of as a tenant representation agreement for those that are familiar with that agreement.

Essentially the exclusive agreement states that the borrower agrees to work with the mortgage broker on an exclusive basis with shopping for lenders, negotiating term sheets and coordinating the processing and closing of the loan (among other legal issues I’m not qualified to discuss). The commercial mortgage broker is handling the whole transaction on behalf of the borrower and typically is looking out for the borrower interests. A non exclusive agreement still covers a lot of the same issues but gives the borrower the right to work with other lenders/ brokers. So there’s no guarantee that you’ll win the deal and or get paid.

The main advantage for the commercial mortgage broker to get an exclusive is that the borrower has committed to working with the broker, and at the end of the deal the broker will get paid. For those reading this article that have worked on deals for months with borrowers and to find out they lost it because of 10 basis points or slightly lower fees know how bad this can sting.

Most exclusive fee agreements cover a lot more than the exclusivity issue; retainers, expenses covered, minimum fees are some of the more important issues. For example having a borrower send you a thousand dollar retainer and a signed exclusive agreement says a lot; that he’s on board and going to work with you.

There are disadvantages though of going for an exclusive agreement. The obvious is that many borrowers simply will not want to sign off on this. It can be a hard sell. They’ll want you to “get them quotes” or “see what you can offer” first. Basically the borrower will want to keep total control and will only want to work with you if you can produce the best deal. So you stand to lose working on the deal if they don’t agree. You may know that perfect bank for the deal and or just want to work on it with the hopes of building a solid relationship along the way.

Also, YOU may not want to work on the deal on an exclusive basis. Believe me when I tell you that if your borrower agrees to a 5 page agreement and sends you a $1000 retainer, that they will want to get their money’s worth and are not going away. If they deal is weak and you find you can’t get it done, you’ll have to invest a lot more time into the deal than wanted and or break off the relationship and risk tarnishing your reputation.

So, unfortunately there’s no simple answer if you should go for an exclusive commercial mortgage broker fee agreement or not. But you should get you borrower to sign something that says you’re working with him and that you’ll get paid at close.

Why Use A Commercial Mortgage Broker?

Value beyond expectations, that’s why.

If you have ever thought about financing a commercial real estate property, the thought of using a commercial mortgage broker may have crossed your mind. However, if you are like some people, you may have debated using a commercial mortgage broker based on the belief that it is more expensive to use a broker rather than go directly to a lender. This common belief is a myth.

The reality is that there are a number of ways in which you can save money by engaging a mortgage broker to provide you assistance with your commercial real estate financing needs and objectives. If you take the time to determine the value of using a commercial mortgage broker you will surely see that it is money well spent.

-Locating a Lender

Locating a lender to fund your commercial mortgage is not as easy as it may seem. Due to the wide range of property types, loan types, and special circumstances a single lender simply cannot offer loan programs for all potential loans. You may waste a considerable amount of time simply trying to find a single lender that offers the program you need. A qualified and experienced mortgage broker will have multiple lender relationships in place who can offer a wide range of lending options. Some brokers may even have relationships in place that give you access to hundreds of lenders offering an unbelievable amount of loan options.

-Risks in working with a single lender

You may spend the time and locate a single lender that can meet your needs, but you are not out of the woods yet. By working with a single lender or bank you are putting all your eggs in one basket as they say. The approval process can take a good deal of time that you may not have. Then what happens if the loan application is not approved by that lender? Can you afford to go through the process a second time risking a similar outcome? By working with a broker, your loan application can be submitted to multiple lenders. This not only increases the chances that your loan will be funded, but it also gives you and your broker more bargaining power to get the best deal.

-Cost Variations Between Lenders

One of the most significant ways in which you can save money by using the services of a commercial mortgage broker rests in the fact that there can be notable differences in the interest rates, costs and other fees charged from one lender to the next. A broker will help you in identifying the most reasonably priced options available from these different mortgage lenders. On first blush the cost differences from one lender to another may seem small. But remember, in most instances we are talking about loans in the millions of dollars. Even if the interest rate difference is minimal on the surface, over time this can add up to a significant amount of money.

-Brokers Specialize

Commercial mortgage brokers, especially the good ones, will often specialize in a certain property or loan type. The added experience provided by a specialist guarantees that they have experience with exactly the loan you are looking to secure. Each and every property type and loan type has its own set of issues and pitfalls so it pays to find a broker that services your individual needs. In comparison, if you have a problem with your plumbing you want a plumber, not a general contractor.

-Inherent Expenses of Searching on Your Own

People tend to forget that when they are devoting time shopping around looking for a commercial mortgage lender – or anything else for that matter – it takes you away from other pursuits, including money making pursuits. Therefore, you do need to keep in mind that by engaging the services of a commercial mortgage broker you free up more of your valuable time to engage in other efforts that are more profitable than aimlessly wandering around looking for a mortgage lender.

-Support Services

Another avenue through which a commercial mortgage broker can help you save money is through their existing relationships with other industry professionals. A good commercial mortgage broker has a preassembled network of professionals including appraisers, accountants, lawyers and other service providers that they work with on a regular basis. Not only do you not have to spend the time to find these required resources on your own, but often times you can get a reduced rate on the services due to the brokers existing relationship.

-Fees of Commercial Mortgage Brokers

You need to understand that commercial mortgage brokers appreciate that they are in a very competitive business. Therefore, these professionals are now taking great pains to make their services as affordable as possible. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the broker fee. And don’t be afraid to ask your broker questions regarding how they came up with the fee proposal. The good thing about using a broker is that they do not get paid unless your deal closes.

It is true that in the end, you do pay a fee for utilizing the services of a commercial mortgage broker. These fees can range from half a point to two points on conventional loans up to five or so points on a hard money deal. However, you will find, as many commercial investors have in the past, that working with a commercial broker will help ensure that your needs are met and that you get the best deal in the process. The bottom line is that what you are paying for is a professional on your side, someone to watch out for your best interests. Similar to the way a lawyer protects your interests in legal matters. You wouldn’t go to court without a lawyer, so don’t finance your commercial mortgage without a broker.