Securing traditional financing through banks and other financial organizations remains highly challenging for many businesses. As banks pull back more traditional commercial-and-industrial lending, they are often unable to lend even to small businesses with solid financials. And as their security demands increase, some companies are pushed into distress or unable to take advantage of commercial growth opportunities.
If your company is performing well, you may sill find it difficult to secure sufficient growth capital from your current lender- even though you are growing according to projections. Refinancing a previous line of credit can help support your company’s continued domestic and international growth, especially if your company is stuck in a credit facility that was put in place when your performance was not as strong. Your previous small business loan may have been appropriate at the time, but after a couple years, the pricing may no longer be appropriate for current performance.
It’s a real sign of the times when banks stop or restrict advances against inventory due to internal changes or re-organization. For example, it’s common for lenders to deleverage the inventory financing available to a company and restrict additional funds – even if a company’s numbers are growing.
So what do you do if you’re doing great, but your bank isn’t?
When a bank makes their problems your problem, your business can fall victim to high pricing and/or reduced growth capital due to circumstances at the bank that have nothing to do with your own company’s performance.
In order to capitalize on upcoming commercial growth opportunities, businesses need financing that is affordable and intelligently structured. It is important to look for a lender that recognizes this and is able to refinance your line of credit and increase borrowing availability to support your company’s continued growth.
An experienced alternative lender can secure a credit facility that serves to refinance your previous line of credit. In addition to helping you solve any funding problems created by the bank, an alternative lender may also find it appropriate to work with affiliates to successfully structure and arrange an optimal financing arrangement.
Financing multiple properties
We have all heard phrases like; “Buy land, they are not making any more of it.” Own land, my son and you will never be poor.” “No man feels more of a man in the world if he has a bit of ground that he can call his own.”
These and many similar sayings are weaved into the character of every real estate investor inspiring each to go forth and nobly create a substantial portfolio of properties. Too over the top? OK, maybe you just want the income real estate can provide and realize that building a real estate portfolio can help you reach your financial goals.
As a real estate investor, I have seen firsthand the effects the new mortgage qualification rules set down by the banks are having on both the individual home buyer as well as the investor. Many lenders have further tightened their own guidelines, in turn making it extremely difficult for many investors to successfully grow their portfolios. (Many lenders have eliminated their rental property “products” while others have closed their doors altogether)
So what are the current financing options, what lenders are available and how do we “present” ourselves to potential lenders to get favorable results in order to buy our first rental property or add to our portfolios?
First, let’s address the lender presentation. When we can present ourselves (and our portfolios) professionally, we stand a better chance of getting more mortgage approvals. Many real estate investors do not have a proper “financing binder” and consequently have a tougher time with financing. You want to show any potential lender that you know how to run a legit real estate business.
A professional financing binder should include the following:
1. A copy of a recent credit bureau. You must know your credit score and you “standing” with your creditors before the lender does. Almost 50% of people who have not seen their credit bureau discover errors. These errors are usually from poor reporting on credit cards, loans or car lease accounts. In many cases the client has completed and fully paid an account (perhaps years prior) but the account has not been documented as a closed account. These issues are easily repaired by contacting the credit bureaus as well as the creditor. In the meantime that “open account” can be adversely affecting your credit score.
Go to Equifax or Transunion to “pull” your bureau. These companies provide your credit score at low cost (or free) and provide an historic outline with your creditors. There is no negative impact on your credit score if you pull your bureau 2 or 3 times a year (which I personally recommend).
Speaking of credit, it is wise when mortgage qualifying to reduce or better yet, eliminate credit card, line of credit and other debts. High credit card balances, leases, loans or credit lines can impede the qualifying process, as these debts are part of your overall debt service calculations.
2. Your last 2 years of Tax Returns). If you have existing income properties, make sure your accountant is properly reporting your rental income and expenses in the “Statement of Business Activities” section of the return. This gives a lender a realistic view of your business and indicates the income, expenses and write offs you are taking.
3. Your last 2 years of Notice of Assessments. (NOAs) It indicates whether there are still taxes owing to CRA and provides your (net) taxable income amount, which appears on line 150, both which are key to any lender.
Regarding your line 150… The result of a higher line 150 means we pay more tax, but it is better in terms of receiving more mortgage approvals, so this is clearly a double edged sword situation.
4. If you are self-employed, include a business registration or business license as a sole proprietor or Articles of Incorporation if a Provincial or federally incorporated company. If you T4 yourself from your company, include your recent T4s.
5. For salaried individuals, include your most recent paystubs and a Letter of Employment which includes your length of time with the company, your position and your annual salary.
6. Include statements for any non- real estate investments such as registered funds, stocks, mutual funds or insurance policies.
7. Include the latest mortgage statements from all the properties you own including your principal residence. These statements should include the current balance, interest rate, monthly payment and maturity date. It is also helpful for the lender to know the original purchase and original mortgage amount.
8. A current property tax statement or tax assessment is important to have for all properties.
9. If you hold any condo style properties, all up to date condo/strata documents such as minutes from the most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), maintenance and engineering reports should be included.
10. A recent appraisal on your properties gives the lender an idea of the equity amount of your portfolio.
11. A net worth statement should give the lender a cross section of all income, assets, liabilities and expenses. Your assets may also include vehicles, precious metals as well as jewelry, furniture and art (providing it has real value… I’m not referring to your synthetic diamond earrings, Ikea couch or your black velvet Elvis painting… not that there’s anything wrong with these!)
12. Finally, you’ll need a section which outlines your properties. This should include pictures, all current leases, a list of repairs, a breakdown of chattels (if applicable) and a DCR or debt coverage ratio spreadsheet.
DCR is a calculation which equals a ratio that lenders consider (especially if you have multiple properties) for the purposes of understanding if your property or portfolio is “carrying” itself. Basically lenders want to see the ratio at 1.2% or higher (although some lenders only require 1.1%). What this means is the property is generating enough income to carry itself without the owner having to go into their own pocket to service the mortgage.
Once you have a well put together financing binder you increase your options as to the lenders you can go to and your chances for approval. That said, adding another mortgage to an already significant portfolio, even with a slick financing binder can still be challenging. It is entirely possible to exhaust the traditional ‘A’ lender’s risk tolerance, forcing investors to utilize alternative lending sources.
Most alternative lenders are less concerned with your personal financial situation and more concerned with their equity position in the property, often resulting in lower LTVs. You should be prepared for slightly higher rates, possible fees and shorter loan terms… usually 1 year. They are also concerned with the marketability of the property should they have to foreclose, so “geography” and current market activity are major factors in the approval process.
Loan of this nature can be accessed through mortgage brokers who have relationships with “Alt A” or “B” lenders, private individuals/estates and Mortgage Investment Corporations (MICs). Let’s break these lending sources down for clarity.
An “Alt A” or “B” lender can be owned or a subsidiary company of an “A” lender (although as of this writing, many of the A lenders have closed these divisions). Other alternative sources are trust companies and credit unions. Many of these institutions have both A and B lending divisions. Because many of these lenders are regionally based, they are often more favorable to purchases in smaller communities where many national “A” lenders are hesitant.
Private individuals or estates which are often represented by a lawyer can be excellent sources for financing. These sources often lend their own money or pooled money from a few investors. They each have their own guidelines as to the loan amounts, types of properties and geographical areas they are comfortable with. Some of these sources advertise locally but are commonly known to well-connected mortgage brokers.
The other alternative source which I am quite familiar with is Mortgage Investment Corporations (MICs). These entities are relatively unknown to many mortgage brokers and investors alike depending on where in Canada you are located. MICs came on the lending scene in the 80s but have gained significant momentum as of late, making their presence known initially in single/multi-residential properties, with some MICs lending to development projects and commercial properties.
MICs are governed by the Income Tax Act (Section 130.1: Salient Rules) and must operate in a fashion which is similar to a bank. In a nutshell, MICs get their mortgage funds through a pooled source of investors; the MIC then carefully lends the money out on first and/or second mortgages. The investors/shareholders make a return on their investment and mitigate their risk by being invested into many mortgages. MICs may also own properties like single for multifamily homes, apartments, commercial buildings and even hotels. All of the net income is returned to the investor/shareholders often on a quarterly or annual basis. MICs can also use leverage similar to a bank. (For more info on MICs, refer to my article entitled “Optimizing MICs” in the March 2011 issue of this magazine)
As stated previously, many of the above institutions may only lend 65% or 75% loan to value which can often fall short of the required amount needed. This is where you can enlist a combination of lenders. Using an “A” lender or any other lender for a 1st mortgage and getting a 2nd with another lender at a higher LTV is possible. Some lenders will offer both a 1st and a 2nd with different rates.
Other financing challenges may stem from the property itself. Lenders have become increasingly more concerned with the property’s age, condition and usage. Lenders want to make sure your properties are well maintained and the units are safe.
Remember, lenders are always concerned about the implications of resale should they have to foreclose, so a well maintained and well located the property is easier to finance and to market… which is good for the investor as well.
Though the stock market remains wildly prone to fluctuations and the United States barely saved itself from veering off a fiscal cliff at the new year, the high pay of finance jobs has remained a steadfast thing. And the number of people seeking such jobs has, if anything, been on the rise-even as the amount of spots available moves the other direction on the number line.
“I’m looking to go into finance” is a common phrase among soon-to-graduate and recently graduated college students. But what exactly does “going into finance” look like? Finance is an industry, and the term blankets a lot of different positions. Finance jobs include everything from being an analyst to being a trader, from being a researcher to being a consultant. When most people think “finance,” investment banking, also called iBanking, is what first comes to mind. Specifically, bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley come to mind. But these firms only comprise a small (if highly profitable and reputable) piece of the finance pie. Job-seekers can also break into the finance career bubble through sales and trading divisions, corporate finance, hedge funds (a harder point of entry for fresh BAs), consulting firms, (McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group’s HOLT associates division), private wealth (Charles Schwab, PNC Wealth Management) management firms, and even ratings agencies (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s). And within iBanking alone, there is further job breakdown into three types of groups: capital market, product, and industry groups. Basically, “finance” is deceptively simple-there are dozens of ways to wriggle into the finance sector.
The pay, of course, differs from position to position and from company to company. At a big investment bank, first-year analysts will typically make around $70k base salary plus a $10k signing bonus and $50k to $60k year-end bonus. At a hedge fund, the hiring salary can go up to $90-$100k base plus an even more significant year-end bonus-but generally only analysts with an MBA or prior iBanking experience will make this kind of money right off the bat.Entry-level private wealth management salaries can also be over $80,000. First-year traders bring in similar base salaries to analysts but usually expect less of a bonus-around $20K to $30K. Ratings or credit analysts tend to make slightly less than these other positions, around $55K base salary, but compared to the larger scope of American and international pay grades, that is still a more-than-respectable entry-level salary. And once someone is inside the finance worlds, his/her chances for mobility into different sectors and positions greatly increase.
Of course, no money comes free, and no one getting into the finance world can expect to get his/her salary without doing a lot of work-sometimes 100 hours a week of it. Analysts joke that analysts don’t have a life, and at times that joke rings all too true. But the applications for finance jobs keep coming and will keep coming. The bonuses may not be as extravagant as they once were, nor is the path to rise through the ranks of a firm as smooth and certain. Yet no other industry can promise pretty much across the board $50k plus entry-level salaries, especially after the recession. High pay has remained a stable fact for those who can say they are “in finance,” and in unstable times, that kind of stability is something for which many are willing to fight.
Retail Credit is being withheld causing many retailers to try to find a buyer for their retail sales contracts. Higher interest and larger discounts are not enough for the finance companies to purchase the contracts. Credit is not offered, as before, therefore to survive in business, it is necessary to have your own in house finance company. If you don’t have one, then you should seriously consider starting one.
It is a self-supporting protection for your business to succeed. Outside finance organizations have raised their requirements so high for that only a few people can now qualify for credit.
Credit Cards have been a source of financing for smaller amounts. That availability may be eliminated with the new laws soon going into effect. The credit card interest and requirements to get a card are higher, and credit limits may be much smaller. Consumers will be looking for retailers with in house financing.
Take the fear out of financing.
The first step in managing your own financing is to select a software program that will successfully support the monitoring and communication functions of a finance company. Financing is the key to business success.
1. Financing is a very profitable business.
2. You can manage your own credit accounts.
3. Double your profit without increasing your sales.
4. Finance is the largest industry in the world.
5. There is almost no cost in generating the business. You have created all the forms and contracts at the time of the sale.
6. You can make the sale and retain Customers Loyalty.
7. Payments will provide daily cash flow. As you add to your portfolio the cash flow will also increase.
8. Interest is charged every day of the year.
Businesses are losing their availability of outside financing. There is no better time to start your financing than now.
Your finance division or company is the “Life support system” for your businesses. The criteria for purchasing an account has not changed for the companies who do their own financing, therefore they are doing business as usual. Many of these stores have gained volume because they can finance sales that the others lose. Larger down payments will make the contracts stronger
A customer who has purchased over the years, and are suddenly turned down for financing a new purchase, can destroy the customer’s confidence and loyalty.
Start your finance division now and each month as you add more contracts your daily cash flow will become sufficient to support your business. If you re-invest your finance profit it will grow at a much faster rate. At that time your business will be self sustaining and will not depend on others to dictate your success or failure.
Articles have been written on “How to buy a Contract”, setting up a Credit Policy, and How to Collect accounts. Monitoring and communicating with your customer is very important for finance management. Learn how to analyze your accounts for the best return on your investment.
Remember that investing in your own finance division is the best insurance that your company will succeed in business.