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Miss: The market metrics we've used for a while are still good enough to size today's deals.
Don't limit your ability to close deals by using out-of-date market data. The ability of many retail and restaurant tenants to pay $3, $4 or $5 per-square-foot monthly rents has significantly diminished in the past several months, and the trend likely will continue in that direction for some time. Everyone involved in the transaction should be aware of today's numbers and should use current data as transactions are sized, analyzed and underwritten.
Hit: Today's buyers want steals, not deals.
In a dynamic market, buyers are almost always ahead of sellers. Today, many buyers aren't simply seeking a fair deal; they want a great deal. This means that some sellers should probably sit it out a while longer before putting their properties on the market. If they must sell, then they must be realistic about today's prices. Dwelling on what values used to be doesn't help close deals today, and it also can hold sellers back from accepting a realistic offer.
Hit: People tend to become litigious in difficult markets.
It is a sad fact of our business that when things get tough, some people seek to resolve problems by filing lawsuits. This is not a time to make promises or guarantees. No deal is complete until it is done, funded and recorded -- and until everyone who is supposed to get paid has been paid.
Some lenders are taking longer to perform their initial due diligence or underwriting. Property-buyers and loan applicants are nervous and are seeking reassurance from their representatives.
Keep in close touch with your clients. Communicate regularly, even if you don't have news to report. If your clients are always calling you, then you are not calling them often enough.
Trying to keep a deal alive by promising that it certainly will close is a shortcut to disaster. Your emphasis must be on ethical behavior at all times, plenty of hard work and detailed local knowledge that will give you solid opportunities to add value.
Hit: This is an excellent time for networking.
Marketing should be an essential part of your daily business plan. Revisit clients for whom you've successfully closed deals. Ask them for their opinions about what is going on today. And never be afraid to ask for referrals and for their business.
We all rely on other professionals for support. These people can be real estate attorneys, certified public accountants, property brokers and property managers. They also can be reliable sources of new business if you stay in touch with them, help guide them through this market with your knowledge, and remain a resource they can call on when they need advice or other assistance.
Hit: If you want to understand a commercial market, start with jobs data.
The quickest way to predict the future of any income-property market reliably is to understand the area's employment numbers. Are jobs being created or eliminated? What is the area's current unemployment figure?
As is true with so much of commercial real estate, you must understand the trends. Is the local situation improving or getting worse? Ultimately, the value of commercial real estate will rise and fall with the long-term increases or decreases in employment within the market area.
Mortgage professionals who want to survive this year must be prepared to work hard and smart, to plan, and to thoroughly understand the deals on which they are working on and the market in which they are striving to close deals. By understanding the real estate news that's out there and how it relates to the commercial mortgage market, brokers can better help their clients and hit more home runs to close deals successfully.
Fred Hollister is
senior vice president, director of commercial lending, for Global Fundings, a nationwide broker of institutional and private-money commercial mortgages. He has more than 25 years' experience in all aspects of income-property lending, having been a commercial mortgage broker, bank commercial loan officer, underwriter, asset reviewer and compliance officer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 207-8333.
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