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What to Expect when Applying for a Commercial Mortgage Loan: Banks and Private Alternatives
If you have never borrowed money for your business before, you may be in for a surprise. Whether you want to borrow working capital to expand your business or leverage equity in a commercial real estate venture, you will soon find out the commercial loan process is very different from the more common home mortgage process. Commercial loans, unlike the vast majority of residential mortgages, are not ultimately backed by a governmental entity such as Fannie Mae. Consequently, most commercial lenders are risk-averse; they charge higher interests rate than on a comparable home loan. Some lenders go a step further, scrutinizing the borrower's business as well as the commercial property that will serve as collateral for the loan. This means that the business borrower should have different expectations when applying for a loan against his commercial property than he would have for a loan secured by his or her primary residence.Following is a list of questions the borrower should ask himself and the lender before applying for a commercial loan.1. How am I going to meet the loan repayment terms?Typically, bank loans require the borrower to repay his or her entire business loan much earlier than its stated due date. Banks do this by requiring most of their loans to include a balloon repayment. This means the borrower will pay interest and principal on his 30-year mortgage at the stated interest rate for the first few years (generally 3, 5 or 10 years) and then repay the entire balance in one balloon payment.Many borrowers do not save enough in such a short time frame, so they must either re-qualify for their loan or refinance the loan at the end of the balloon term. If the business happens to have any cash-flow problems in the years immediately preceding the balloon term, the lender may require a higher interest rate, or the borrower may not qualify for a loan at all. If this happens, the borrower runs the risk of being turned down for financing altogether and the property may be in jeopardy of foreclosure.
How long will it take to get a commercial loan?
Borrowers generally start the loan process by contacting their bank. Unfortunately, it is difficult to secure business loans from most banks. Besides, bank loans:Contain the most stringent requirementsImpose the most loan covenantsTake the longest time to secure the loan.Bank loans go through several phases of review. First, they will look at your historical income statements, balance sheets and statements of cash flow. Then they will review 5 years of tax returns on the borrower and all owners who will guarantee the loan.Generally it takes several weeks before the borrower can get a verbal or written commitment letter from a bank. Even after the loan commitment, the bank's credit committee may veto the loan. The business will then have to start the process over with a new lender. If a firm has very good credit rating, a good relationship with its bank, a solid and confirmable history of earnings and profits, and is not in a hurry, a local bank will probably give them the lowest stated interest rate on the loan.If you need to be pre-qualified quickly, you should shop for credit over the Internet or look at non-bank sources of funds first. Once you secure a commitment from a direct lender, then you may start a parallel process with your bank. Some direct non-bank lenders can give you a verbal commitment in a few days, but keep in mind that you are only searching for "commercial" loans-offers from Internet companies may often be for residential property, so you will need to screen your searches.