Proof of Funds for Commercial Real Estate Investors

Creative Financing

When a Commercial Real Estate Investor is looking to purchase income producing property utilizing any number of creative financing methods, one of the most important keys to their success is that their ability to provide adequate, verifiable proof of funds – P.O.F.- to both the seller and the lender. The verification of funds can enhance the investors credibility with the seller as well as satisfy the lenders requirement to know that the borrower has necessary funds to complete their transaction.

Proof of Funds

There are a few ways acceptable to lenders and sellers to show P.O.F. to close your Commercial Real Estate transaction:

  • Bank Statements or Bank Verification
  • Brokerage Account Statements or Verification
  • Escrow Account Verification

“Bank Verification” This is the most acceptable and widely used method to confirm the investors can complete the proposed deal. As such money must be put into a bank account and confirmed by statements or letter from the banker.¬† This is a “hard” (versus soft) method of verification, because money are deposited in an account in the buyers name to serve as proof the buyer can complete the transaction.

“Brokerage Account Verification” Similar to bank accounts, brokerage accounts show acceptable means to complete a purchase transaction. Likewise, statements or letter from the brokerage house representative will meet the requirement to prove adequate financial strength. This is also a “hard”¬† method.

“Escrow Account Verification” This is the one method that can be hard or soft evidence of necessary assets as the escrow agent simply needs to write a letter of confirmation attesting that the borrower has finances available to complete the transaction. It becomes hard when money is transferred¬† into an escrow waiting for the closing.

Companies

Finally, there are companies whose sole purpose is to provide evidence of the financial ability of Commercial Real Estate Investors to complete their transactions. Many of them provide “Proof of Funds” and Transactional Financing. P.O.F. is necessary at the beginning of the deal and Transactional Financing is for the day of closing only. Both of these methods are a necessary part of an investors arsenal when utilizing creative financing.

Renting An Apartment – What Should Matter?

Accommodation is a need that will never be satisfied and hence more and more rental properties keep coming up. Properties for rent are not only residential but they could also be commercial to serve your business needs. If what you have are residential needs, then you have so many property options to choose from depending on where you are located. Flats and apartments are the most common property types today and you will definitely end up in the best when you know what to look out for before renting your unit. Because your apartment will be your home for some time, you need to make all important considerations to get the best.

Location – Is the location of the property convenient to you? Is it close to where you work or will you have to embark on a journey every morning and how convenient is that to you? When thinking location you should also think about access to facilities and services that are essential. The unit you select should offer you the kind of views you are comfortable with so be sure to check out the available units in relation to what you find most ideal.

Atmosphere – This means the surroundings in and out of the property. If you love some quiet, then you will want a calm and quiet atmosphere and this can be hard to enjoy if you end up in a community that has a reputation for parties. You should also consider what types of residents are accommodated. For instance, a property that houses largely students cannot be compared with one that houses mostly professionals or families. The point should be to select an atmosphere that suits your personality perfectly as well as your study or work habits.

Amenities – What is provided for in the property? This is not only important to consider in your rental unit, but also the common areas that are available on the property. The internet seems to be among the most important aspects for many people so if this matters to you then make sure that the property makes it available for you. Sports ground, swimming pools and entertainment areas are some of the other things you can consider before renting a property on a rental property.

Safety – Apart from thinking about the safety concerns in the area, check to see that reliable locking systems are provided for on windows and doors. Smoke detectors, exit points and other measures should also be in place so you have a sense of security at all times. A good property should also have perimeter wall and some sort of security arrangements at the gate to give residents peace even at night.

Building basics – When you rent an apartment, you want to enjoy maximum privacy when you are in. This makes it important to consider whether the floors, ceilings and even the walls come with any insulation to keep noise out. Because of how apartments are built, without proper insulation you will end up putting up with noises from above, below and outside and this can be distracting for some. Ensure also that doors and windows are tightly sealed to keep off climatic elements.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Stay On Budget

Keeping a commercial construction project on budget requires determination, vigilance, creativity in problem-solving, and diplomacy. It begins almost at the moment a project is conceived and continues throughout the entire construction period.

There are many reasons a commercial construction project will go over budget. Some causes simply can’t be adequately assessed or budgeted, such as delays and materials losses caused by a natural disaster. But many causes relate to poor planning and even weaknesses in the budgeting process itself.

Typical Cost Control Problems

Cost overruns on a construction project happen, despite the most careful planning and control efforts. Some common causes for overruns include:

  • Lack of a well-defined project scope.
  • Poor estimating methods (or standards).
  • Out of sequence start/completion activities.
  • Inadequate comparison of planned-to-actual costs.
  • Unanticipated technical problems.
  • Poor (or no) project management policy and control practices.
  • Faulty schedule resulting in overtime or idle time expenses.
  • Escalating materials prices.

Three Big Mistakes

Review some of the more egregious construction cost overruns of recent years and you might see a familiar pattern to budget overruns. They are commonly made mistakes that can be adjusted and corrected during the contracting phase of a project.

Managing these three weak areas may mitigate or eliminate many of the problems listed above:

  • Incomplete document design: a project owner may hand over the architect’s plans and specs to the contractor believing that every detail has been identified. In truth, the owner-architect agreement often only requires the architect to present the plans and specs of a general design intent. The complete in-depth details may not be included. The lack of complete design information places the contractor in the position of demanding more money for work that had not been clearly defined in the plans and specs. Multiple change orders and budget overruns result.
    • Resolution: the owner-architect agreement should specify that the architect will provide a 100% complete set of drawings, specs, and all related documents prepared by engineers (and others working on the project). Responsibility for overages caused by incomplete design falls back on the architect, not the contractor.
  • Complete review of documents prior to bidding: the contractor may seek additional compensation for necessary work that, according to the contractor, was “not shown on the plans and specifications.”
    • Resolution: the project owner’s contract language should stipulate that all contractors wishing to submit bids must affirm they have reviewed the plans and specs and fully understand the scope and intent of the project. Their price should cover all necessary work to fulfil the “implied or express design intent.”
  • The lowest bid: the project owner may face many pressures from investors, shareholders, and board members to accept the lowest bid. But lowest isn’t always the best. Underbidding can be risky and costly.
    • Resolution: work with trusted contractors who have completed projects similar to the current one. The contractor with a track record of successful on-time and in-budget builds is far more likely to be able to produce the same results for your project.

The root of successful budget containment lies in allowing a sufficient amount of planning time to thoroughly define the scope, schedule, quality, risk, resources, and budget for the construction project before the bid invitations are sent out to contractors.

Eight Tips for Negotiating an Office Lease Renewal

So I’m meeting with our landlord tomorrow to discuss a lease extension, and I’m in the process of pulling together my thoughts on the renewal.

Our office building is owned by a small group of investors, so we have a personal relationship with the owners/landlord. I consulted with several colleagues of mine, and here are our top considerations for effectively negotiating a lease or extension:

1. Be a good tenant

It’s so basic to sound business practices, but it bears repeating, particularly when you’re dealing with individuals and other small business owners. Resolve issues along the way as amicably as possible -it all comes back to you in the end.

2. Start early and understand your options

Particularly in a very tight commercial real estate market, you’ve got to allow at least 9-12 months for the process to play out. It can take several months to research your alternatives, open up negotiations with prospective landlords (especially concerning tenant improvements), and then come back to your current landlord. And you’ll want to allow 2-4 months if you have to plan a move (assuming you’re an SMBE like us).

3. Understand your market, and particularly concessions that new tenants can extract.

While market rental rates are important to understand, there are a number of other considerations new tenants may enjoy, including tenant improvements, rent holidays, and other benefits.

Understanding these will not only give you a sense for what you might expect if you go elsewhere, but it can also help you negotiate your current renewal. Why shouldn’t you enjoy at least part of those benefits on the renewal?

4. Consult with (if not retain) a broker.

I’m a big believer in at least talking to experts in a field, and I generally recommend using them to represent you in a lease negotiation. Depending on the size of your business, this can represent anywhere from a $350k to a multi-million obligation over a 3-5 year period.

Brokers can give you a sense for the market, current conditions, and offer other valuable input. Face it -while you may know your business better than anyone, you’re probably not an expert in commercial real estate.

If you are going to use a commercial real estate broker, I suggest using a tenant only representative, as they are less likely to be conflicted than brokers who may represent either side.

That being said, they are a lot like realtors in that they only get paid when a deal gets done. The good news is they are frequently paid for by the lessor, but that may affect the terms of the deal.

5. Depending on how much leverage you have, work to ‘share the savings’.

Just as you may want to avoid the headaches and costs associated with moving, your landlord may have the same interest. If you’ve been a good tenant and are paying near market rents, the last thing your landlord wants to deal with is several months of vacancy, showing the space, negotiating and paying tenant improvements, and then having to deal with an unknown. So work to value how much benefit each side is getting out of the renewal and see if you can’t find some common ground.

6. Think outside the box and understand your landlord’s situation.

Your landlord is interested in three things – the underlying value of the property, current income/cash flow from the property, and avoiding headaches. Understanding the relative importance of each can be very helpful in your negotiations.

For example, commercial property is essentially valued at a multiple of cash flow (it’s a cap rate if you want to be specific) over a period of time, with an emphasis on future cash flows. If the landlord is thinking about re-financing or selling the property in 2-3 years, she will want to boost the cash flow in that later period. This can provide you with a path to reducing your near term rental outlays in return for increasing the rent at a time when it particularly matters to the landlord.

7. Put together a spreadsheet balancing overall costs for your various rental options

Feel free to let your landlord know you’re doing this, and make sure that you’re getting all the information you need to make a balanced and informed decision.

8. Get your hands on a bunch of actual lease agreements and extensions.

This can help give you ideas for different terms that you might want to incorporate into the lease that you may not have thought of. Of course, if you have representation, you should encourage them to do this -you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked.

There are lots of resources out there for looking at sample and (even more helpful) actual, negotiated lease agreements