Commercial mortgage loans differ from residential mortgages primarily because they're used to finance commercial property. The property may technically be a residence, but if it's used as a commercial venture-for example, a large apartment building rented out for its income potential-a commercial real estate loan is generally required. The volume of commercial loans grew 16 percent in 2005 to $1.3 trillion, as lenders provided business loans for various ventures, developments, investments, and construction projects.
Tips for successful business loans
When lenders qualify customers for a commercial mortgage, the credit history of the business and its directors is taken into consideration, and the risk of the commercial venture itself is carefully evaluated. The better you can present a successful business plan, the more likely you will be convincing lenders to approve your loan on favorable terms. For instance, if an office building has good tenants and a positive, profitable track record, lenders will be more inclined to lend money to help an investor buy it than they would for a building with vacancies or negative cash flow.
Commercial loans carry either fixed or adjustable interest rates, and many charge penalties for prepayment. Most commercial loans are structured with a balloon payment that comes due after five, 10, or 15 years, although some have fixed 30-year schedules. And commercial real estate loans are sometimes created as bridge loans, to help borrowers finance projects until they get off the ground. For instance, a developer might use a two- or three- year bridge loan to borrow money to build a shopping center, and then refinance to a longer loan once the shops are occupied and tenants are providing a steady cash flow of rents to the developer.
Commercial second mortgages
Just as homeowners often use a home equity loan to raise cash for household purchases, improvements, or expenses, commercial borrowers also use second mortgages, equity loans, or refinancing strategies to raise capital for such things as equipment, inventory, or business expansion.
Because commercial mortgages are tailored to meet the needs of the business community, they're the best option for those who need financing for commercial real estate ventures.