What to Do When You’re Turned Down For Your Commercial Real Estate Or Development Loan

What alternatives do you have when you are turned down for your commercial real estate loan by your bank or other lender? Your property has an appraised value, and you have equity in it that you’d like to cash in, or you’re trying to buy a new property and can’t get a lender to give you the purchase money loan. Maybe you’re a real estate developer who is used to getting your loans approved because of a successful track record, and can’t even get a meeting now. Or maybe you’ve been approved for a loan, but can’t stomach the rates or terms.

We’ve all heard more than we’d ever want to know about the liquidity and credit crisis, but what may not be as obvious is that there is plenty of money out there–for the right deal. Change creates new opportunities, and when the traditional financial institutions can’t or won’t take on more risk, there are many lenders and investors who will. It’s all about taking another look at your existing assets, both in real estate and in liquid or paper assets, and making the best choice available. The following is a simple list of ways to create alternative financing possibilities:

  • 1 Which institutions have turned you down, and why? Knowing what has not worked can turn you in the right direction, so make sure to ask as many questions as possible when you’re turned down, including asking if they can direct you toward a lender who might be able to do your loan. While most of the following criteria usually play some role in qualifying for a loan, some lenders focus most on CLTV or LTV (combined loan-to-value or loan-to-value), some on DSCR (debt servicing coverage ratio), some on IRR (Internal Rate of Return), some on Cap Rate, some on credit, and some on the overall financial strength of the borrower. Knowing this is often the key to getting to the right lender.
  • 2 If your loan was approved but you didn’t like the rates and terms, see how much room there is for friendly negotiation, and don’t delay. It’s vital to keep on good terms with anyone willing to loan money these days–don’t burn a bridge if you can help it. I personally know many developers with “sticker shock” who expected to return to the approving lender several weeks or even months later (after they shopped around and couldn’t find anything better, or were turned down by everyone else), only to be turned down this time because the lender starts to wonder if there’s something wrong with the project that they didn’t see the first time, or because conditions have changed.
  • 3 You may have to put more cash down if you’re making a purchase. Risk-averse lenders want a much more attractive LTV loan-to-value before they will step in with the rest of your purchase money funds. If you’re refinancing, remember that a risk-averse lender is very cautious about appreciated value and would rather see more of your own cash in the property.
  • 4 If you don’t have the additional cash, take stock of your other assets. There are lenders who will loan against many different types of assets such as merchant accounts, future cash flow, marketable securities, other financial instruments, cross-collateral real estate, insurance settlements, and factoring receivables. For certain types of projects, such as energy and green-type projects, as well as films, there are tax credits, carbon credits and various types of bonds and partnered participation sponsored by municipalities and states.
  • 5 When considering a purchase, or perhaps if you are designing a new project to build, you may want to look at which property types lenders are looking to finance before you make an offer. Even if you have talent, a niche, tons of experience, or a crystal ball that works, why swim against the current when you could go with the flow?
  • 6 If you’ve gone through all your regular banking relationships, you may want to consider working with a licensed broker. Although you pay for the broker’s services, remember that a broker is keeping up with many more lenders and investors than you generally could, and they can help steer you toward those whose guidelines you fit.
  • 7 One resource that can work well (if done with the right institution) is a leased financial instrument, such as a SBLC or a CD. Some larger real estate transactions can be closed either with this kind of credit enhancement, or with funds deposited in escrow when other funds will be available at closing. It’s also sometimes possible to run a useable line of credit against a certain type of leased instrument when the financial institutions on both ends agree to the terms. Be very careful to have approval from the bank providing the credit line prior to making any payment.

It’s important to be creative as well as realistic when trying to get a commercial real estate loan, and to be willing to accept the changing financial terrain while being open to new suggestions. Look for solid professional advice to improve your own personal and professional goals. Sometimes when you look at things differently, the solutions to the problem become much clearer and perhaps better than the plan you first had.