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.

Commercial Real Estate Agent Prospecting Facts and Strategies

When you work as a commercial real estate agent or broker, it is essential that you develop and implement a prospecting program to generate new business leads. It is a personal process and it is not something that you can or should delegate.

I am amused sometimes when I hear that an agent has paid considerable money to a marketing company to ‘cold call’ their entire sales territory or market segment looking for leads and prospects to serve. Delegating the prospecting process to a marketing company or another ‘unskilled person’ is a waste of time and money. Commercial real estate is an industry built around personal relationships and trust; a marketing company or employed canvasser cannot offer that level of communication or service.

So why would a real estate agent employ such a ‘marketing firm’ to make prospecting calls? The answer in most cases is glaringly obvious; the agent doesn’t have the skill or the discipline for the prospecting process to be successful.

If you want to win the new business, then you will need to do it yourself. Yes, it takes time to get results and you will need to develop some new skills, but discipline will help you get to the results that you are seeking.

One thing should be said here; commercial real estate brokerage is tremendously rewarding for the sales people that can work hard and to a system or plan. Looking for leads and opportunities is part of the process or game. It’s a personal thing and it can’t be delegated.

Here are some way’s to find new business, better property listings, and good clients:

  • Redundant Properties – Some properties will move to a level of redundancy due to age, deterioration, change of zoning, or lack of tenants. When this happens it is time to move to the next phase of the property ‘lifecycle’. A good real estate agent can see the signs early and work closely with a property owner as they start to deal with the issue of investment change.
  • Vacant Land – As a city expands or suburbs change, vacant land will be rezoned for new development. Keep ahead of this opportunity by monitoring the planning and development applications at your local planning approvals office. Get copies of the public minutes of the planning committee meetings.
  • Old Listings – Some listings don’t sell or lease at the first attempt. What you can do here is withdraw the property from the market today and then revisit the property marketing effort a few months later in another and perhaps different marketing approach. Refreshing a listing is a valuable business process.
  • Open Listings – The best way to sell or lease a property is through an exclusive listing process. Open listings are very much a process of luck; most open listings stay on the market for a very long time and on average are far less successful when compared to the dedicated marketing efforts of an exclusive listing. Revisit old open listings to see if they can be optimised for a fresh marketing effort.
  • Larger Businesses – Local businesses are involved in property either as tenants or as owner occupiers. Business owners will need help with property from time to time. The best way to tap into that opportunity is through direct and ongoing contact. Cold call every business in your town or city and speak to them regularly about property needs and changes.
  • Surrounding Other Listings – When a competing agent puts a property on the market, you can use that listing as a reason to talk to all adjacent and nearby business and property owners. One property listing can be the catalyst to talk to others to see if they would like to compete or do something themselves.
  • Street Canvass – On a street by street basis, systematically move through your sales territory and research all property owners. Eventually you will create a good list of owners for your database. Ongoing contact will allow you to build valuable client relationships and the levels of trust that help grow commissions and listings.
  • Cold Calling – The telephone remains the most effective business tool that we have. Direct calls handled in a professional way will help you reach out to new people. Selectively researching the property owners and business people in your area will support the cold calling process.

A simple list like this will give you an abundance of property leads and opportunities. The secret to making things work for you is in doing it yourself.

Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of “right of ways” to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a “must have” trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for “family friendly” or “residential friendly” commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for “mover upper” homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with “urban renovations”.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the “far end” of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find “sleeper” raw land properties. These “sleeper” properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.

How to Market Your Commercial Real Estate Loan Business

All too often I see small business owners missing the mark with their marketing. Sure, it’s easy to do when you specialize in a specific industry niche and you spend your time engulfed in industry sector jargon. However, it’s best to put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and think your marketing through from their perspective, addressing their most important questions. Your customers want to be able to trust you, to know you are looking out for their interests and that you don’t just see them with Dollar Signs in your sunglasses.

Below is a sample page, perhaps good for a website, brochure, email, or letter. Why not look this over and consider how you might form your own message. Use your own voice, your own style and remember you are talking to your customer across the table for the first time. You know what questions they will ask. Show that you care, that you are working for them, and will go out of your way to get them the best rates, and great service. Here is the sample:

Commercial Real Estate Loans

Are you looking to purchase an income property such as an apartment building, small office building, or retail center? Would you like to put several rental properties in your real estate portfolio into one commercial mortgage? Wish to find a suitable piece of land and develop that property? Do you need a loan for acquisition and construction?

Do you want to buy a business property with a business on it; a restaurant, carwash, service station, laundry mat, hotel, etc.? Are you looking for a commercially zoned property with a warehouse or industrial building on it? Are you expanding an existing business and/or want to own the property under your business rather than paying the monthly lease?

Are you in the agricultural sector, looking for specifically zoned farming property; land for a vineyard, orchard, or crop such as berries, vegetables, or flowers? We have significant experience to make this happen. Our area in Southern CA has one of the best climates in the world, and incredible top soil for growing almost anything.

We can assist with all types of commercial real estate loans including government-guaranteed loans such as FHA, USDA, and HUD. If you are looking for an SBA 7(a) loan or a CDC/SBA 504 loan for commercial real estate we can get it done.

We can assist you with traditional commercial mortgages, commercial bridge loans, or commercial hard money loans. We also have lines on non-traditional sources for hard money commercial real estate loans, which are custom tailored to you needs for complicated projects outside the normal scope of typical commercial real estate loans and mortgage offerings.

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Why not try something like this? Just because the Federal Reserve has raised rates doesn’t mean you have to let new deals and new clients move to your competitors. I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.