Commercial real estate (CRE) is income-producing real estate that is used solely for business purposes, such as retail centers, office complexes, hotels and apartments. Financing – including the acquisition, development and construction of these properties – is typically accomplished through commercial real estate loans: mortgage loans secured by liens on commercial, rather than residential, property.
Just as with residential loans, banks and independent lenders are actively involved in making loans on commercial real estate. In addition, insurance companies, pension funds, private investors and other capital sources, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 504 Loan program, make loans for commercial real estate.
Here, we take a look at commercial real estate loans: how they differ from residential loans, their characteristics and what lenders look for.
Individuals vs. Entities
While residential mortgages are typically made to individual borrowers, commercial real estate finance is often made to business entities (e.g., corporations, developers, partnerships, funds and trusts). These entities are often formed for the specific purpose of owning commercial real estate.
An entity may not have a financial track record or any credit history, in which case the lender may require the principals or owners of the entity to guarantee the loan. This provides the lender with an individual (or group of individuals) with a credit history and/or financial track record – and from whom they can recover in the event of loan default. If this type of guaranty is not required by the lender, and the property is the only means of recovery in the event of loan default, the loan is called a non-recourse loan, meaning that the lender has no recourse against anyone or anything other than the property.