Suppose a wealthy commercial real estate investor owns a commercial building free and clear. A potential buyer makes a good offer on the commercial building, subject to his obtaining a new commercial mortgage loan at 7% from his bank for 75% of the purchase price. The wealthy commercial property owner accepts the offer.
Unfortunately, the commercial lending world is in turmoil right now. Banks are afraid to make new commercial loans for more than around 62% loan-to-value. The bank turns down our borrower’s 75% LTV commercial loan application, and the deal looks like it is going to fall apart.
Then the commercial real estate broker has an idea. He convinces the wealthy owner to carry back a commercial loan for 75% of the purchase price at 7% interest. After all, the wealthy investor owns the commercial building free and clear. The buyer puts down 25% of the purchase price in cash, and the deal closes.
Now let’s scroll forward four years. The stock market has tanked, and the wealthy investor is not so wealthy anymore. He has lost 70% of his stock investments, and now he desperately needs cash to fix up an empty office building that he owns.
He takes his $750,000 first mortgage note that he owns to a number of commercial mortgage companies that specialize in discounting commercial notes. (By the way, if you ever want to sell a commercial note at a discount, please call me,George Blackburne, at 574-360-2486.)
Because his commercial loan has a 27-year remaining term and the note rate is only 7%, he learns that he will have to discount it by close to 28 points in order to sell it. He would have to give up over $200,000 if he tried to sell his note at a discount; and he really only needs the money for about 18 months. He is going to use the money to pay for the tenant improvements on his vacant office building. Once the new tenants move in, he’ll be able to easily refinance the building and pull out lots of dough.
The investor therefore calls his clever commercial real estate broker, and the broker tells him to just hypothecate his first mortgage note. A hypothecation is a loan secured by a mortgage receivable. It’s a loan secured by a loan. In this case, the investor will be pledging his $750,000 first mortgage note as security for a new hypothecation loan of $500,000.
The advantage of hypothecation loan, compared to selling a mortgage receivable at a discount, is that the investor won’t have to discount his perfectly performing first mortgage note by over $200,000. He’ll just pay a modest 3 point loan fee on the new, smaller $500,000 loan. The interest rate on the hypothecation, typically around 12%, is admittedly higher than what a bank would charge for a new commercial loan, but banks are not really lending right now. In addition, our investor really only needs to borrow the money for about 18 months, until his new tenants move into his vacant office building and he refinances the building. It’s far better to pay 12% on $500,000 for 18 months than to suffer a $200,000+ discount if he tries to sell his commercial loan.