Posts tagged with: bankers

DUE DILIGENCE CHECKLISTS for Commercial Real Estate Transactions

R. Kymn Harp Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

R. Kymn Harp
Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

 2016 Update:

Are you planning to purchase, finance, develop or redevelop any of the following types of commercial real estate in the USA?

  • Shopping Center
  • Office building
  • Large Multifamily/Apartments/Condominium Project
  • Sports and/or Entertainment Venue
  • Mixed-Use Commercial-Residential-Office
  • Parking Lot/Parking Garage
  • Retail Store
  • Lifestyle or Enclosed Mall
  • Restaurant/Banquet Facility
  • Intermodal logistics/distribution facility
  • Medical Building
  • Gas Station
  • Manufacturing facility
  • Pharmacy
  • Special Use facility
  • Air Rights parcel
  • Subterranean parcel
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Other commercial (non-single family, non-farm) property

RSP_LogoHD (3)A KEY element of successfully investing in commercial real estate is performing an adequate Due Diligence Investigation prior to becoming legally bound to acquire or finance the property.  Conducting a Due Diligence Investigation is important not just to enable you to walk away from the transaction, if necessary, but even more importantly to enable you to discover obstacles and opportunities presented by the property that can be addressed prior to closing, to enable the transaction to proceed in a manner most beneficial to your overall objective. An adequate Due Diligence Investigation will assure awareness of all material facts relevant to the intended use or disposition of the property after closing. This is a critical point. The ultimate objective is not just to get to Closing – but rather to confirm that the property can be used or developed as intended after Closing.

The following checklists – while not all-inclusive – will help you conduct a focused and meaningful Due Diligence Investigation. (more…)

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Information Providers – Can We Sue Them If They’re Wrong?

Of Course We Can Sue Them . . . But Can We Hold Them Liable?

No one knows everything. It’s a simple fact of life. Often, businesses turn to other businesses and professionals to obtain needed information. The range of commercial information providers assisting business owners and real estate investors, developers and lenders gather and analyse information is vast.

Diana H. Psarras Business & Trust Litigation, Shareholder -Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.
Diana H. Psarras
Business & Trust Litigation, Shareholder, Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

The question is: Do we have a legal right to rely on the information they provide? What if the information is wrong? What if we rely on that incorrect information and suffer a loss? Is the information provider liable?

It could be anything from hiring an appraiser to appraise a property to support a commercial loan; hiring a lab to analyze nutrition and caloric content of food products; or engaging a financial consultant to evaluate a company’s assets and liabilities as part of a business acquisition or merger; or seeking out a lending institution to provide information regarding the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. We might hire a structural engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of a building or bridge or other structure; or engage a surveyor to determine the scope and size of a parcel of land, or the location of easements and improvements located on the property, or the existence of rights of way to access the property; or we might retain a person or business holding itself out as a “due diligence” expert to investigate the essential facts necessary to enable us to determine whether to proceed with a particular transaction or project. The list of commercial information providers we rely upon to conduct our affairs is nearly endless.

Another simple fact of life is that people can and do make mistakes. They misinterpret information. Misstate the facts. Fail to discover and disclose all material information necessary to make information they have provided sufficient to enable informed action and decision-making.

What happens when your information provider gives you bad information and you suffer a loss as a result? Do you have any recourse? What if (more…)

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Commercial Real Estate Closings

Since 1978, I have represented borrowers and lenders in commercial real estate transactions. Throughout the process of negotiating the sale contract, all parties must keep their eye on what the Buyer’s lender will reasonably require as a condition to financing the purchase. This may not be what the parties want to focus on, but if this aspect of the transaction is ignored, the deal may not close at all.

RSP_LogoFull_2PMSSellers and their agents often express the attitude that the Buyer’s financing is the Buyer’s problem, not theirs. Perhaps, but facilitating Buyer’s financing should certainly be of interest to Sellers.  How many sale transactions will close if the Buyer cannot get financing?

This is not to suggest that Sellers should intrude upon the relationship between the Buyer and its lender, or become actively involved in obtaining Buyer’s financing. It does mean, however, that the Seller should understand what information concerning the property the Buyer will need to produce to its lender to obtain financing, and that Seller should be prepared to fully cooperate with the Buyer in all reasonable respects to produce that information.

Basic Lending Criteria

Lenders actively involved in making loans secured by commercial real estate typically have the same or similar documentation requirements.  Unless these requirements can be satisfied, the loan will not be funded.  If the loan is not funded, the sale transaction will not likely close.

 For Lenders, the object, always, is to establish two basic lending criteria:

 1.         The ability of the borrower to repay the loan; and

 2.         The ability of the lender to recover the full amount of the loan, including outstanding principal, accrued and unpaid interest, and all reasonable costs of collection, in the event the borrower fails to repay the loan.

In nearly every loan of every type, these two lending criteria form the basis of the lender’s willingness to make the loan. Virtually all documentation in the loan closing process points to satisfying these two criteria.  There are other legal requirements and regulations requiring lender compliance, but these two basic lending criteria represent, for the lender, what the loan closing process seeks to establish.  They are also (more…)

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Land Patent Defense is Frivolous, Sanctionable, and a Class 4 Felony in Illinois

The law is clear.  The so-called “Land Patent” defense does NOT work.

This is not earth shattering news, but it is a reminder that defenses to mortgage foreclosure actions must be well grounded in fact and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law. In simple terms – defenses must at least be legally plausible.

One of the more bizarre defenses raised by a small group of defendants who refer to themselves as “sovereign citizens” is a so-called “land patent” defense. It does not work – at least not in Illinois.

In a long, unusual, and fairly cumbersome opinion filed by the Illinois Appellate Court on September 23, 2013, in the case of Parkway Bank and Trust Company v. Victor Korzen and Tomas Zanzola, 2013 IL App (1st) 130380, the First District Appellate Court addressed “a number of tactics a small number of debtors use to both delay the ultimate resolution of cases against them and to use the legal system for improper purposes. Some people might classify those who engage in these tactics as “sovereign citizens”, but regardless of nomenclature, their methods are not only counterproductive, but detrimental to the efficient and fair administration of justice. A recent New York Times article noted the FBI has labeled the strategy as “paper terrorism”.

I am a strong proponent of raising every viable defense to a mortgage foreclosure when representing a defendant. There are many defects in mortgage loan files, and many more defects arising from faulty loan administration, defective securitization of syndicated loans, and breaches of public policy and black letter law by lenders. Some lenders have fraudulently manufactured and forged missing assignment documents and other documents to fill material document gaps. There are legitimate defenses that can be raised and valid lender liability claims that can be pursued in many circumstances if the situation warrants and the resources are available to mount a strong defense and counter-attack.

That said, not every so-called “defense” is legitimate, and some are just plain goofy.

Among the illegitimate “defenses” is the claimed “land patent” defense. It simply does not work. It is not well grounded in law, and there is no good faith argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law that courts in Illinois – or probably anywhere in the United States – are likely to recognize as having been pursued in “good faith”. As a consequence, if you raise the “land patent” defense in defense of an Illinois mortgage foreclosure action, you are going to lose, be sanctioned, and perhaps be prosecuted for committing a Class 4 Felony.

In this short post, I do not intend to give an in-depth description of the (faulty) theory behind the land patent defense, but I will direct your attention to paragraph 72 et seq. of the Parkway Bank v. Korzen case, referred to above. Read this case if you are thinking about using the land patent contrivance as a “defense”, particularly in an Illinois mortgage foreclosure action. It does not work.

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Dancing with Gorillas – Roulette – and CRE Litigation

The Time to Decide – Commercial Real Estate Litigation

A sage once said, “The time to worry about where the ball will drop is before the wheel is spun”.  He was speaking about roulette, of course, but the wisdom of these words has much broader application.  The point is, worry about the outcome before you place the bet, when you can still do something about it.

Commercial litigation, especially commercial real estate litigation, is in some respects like roulette. Once your lawsuit is filed, the wheel is spinning.  Unlike roulette, you may still have a measure of control over the outcome — but you are in it until the ball drops. 

In CRE litigation there is seldom an insurance company prepared to write a check.  There is a substantial risk the case will proceed to trial.  There is no guaranty you will collect anything – especially if payment of money is not the relief you seek. Consequently, there is very little chance your attorney will accept your commercial dispute on a contingent fee basis. A third of nothing is still nothing. 

RSP_LogoFull_2PMSLawyers handling commercial litigation are not your partners. Commercial litigators charge by the hour.  Except in rare cases where you can negotiate a hybrid fee arrangement, you will assume the entire financial risk – not your lawyer. Your lawyer is serving as your paid professional advocate; a hired gun, so to speak.

As long as you are willing and able to pay your lawyer to apply his or her skill and training to your cause, your lawyer is bound to represent you with zeal and vigor. If you do not pay, you should expect your lawyer to stop work.  The fact that the practice of law is a profession does not make it a charitable enterprise. It is both a profession and a business.  There is no moral or ethical imperative for a lawyer to work without pay while advocating a commercial dispute.  CRE litigation is business litigation – and the business being advanced is yours. (more…)

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CREC Capital Markets Review – CHICAGO

May 14, 2013:  The Chicago Real Estate Council hosted a panel of experts during a lunch meeting today to discuss the current state of commercial real estate industry copy-IMG_0156.jpgcapital markets.  The panel was moderated by Dave Hendrickson of Jones Lang LaSalle, and featured panelists Steve Kay, from Cantor Fitzgerald representing CMBS markets, Matt Napoli of PPM America, Inc. representing the life insurance company perspective, Mark Witt of Pearlmark Real Estate Partners, an equity funded mezzanine lender, and Dave Patchin SVP of Fifth Third Bank.

The panelists discussed the tremendous uptick in commercial real estate lending over the past year in all product types, and the prospects for dramatic growth 2013 and beyond. Interest rates in the 3% to 4% range are prevalent with loan to value ratios of 60% to 75% typical.  The spread on LIBOR based loans is typically around 200 basis points above LIBOR.

All primary loan panelists agreed that they prefer to finance projects without the use of mezzanine financing, but in certain circumstances they will consider permitting mezzanine financing.

The consensus was that interest rates are likely to remain flat for the next 12 to 18 months, but that over the next five years interest rates are likely to rise roughly 200 basis points.

None of the panelists expressed concern about the Chicago market overheating in the foreseeable future, but they are being more diligent in evaluating multifamily development and acquisition loans due to rising concerns about absorption of all the recently announced new apartment developments in the City of Chicago.  Generally, however, the sense is that multifamily projects in desirable downtown locations remain attractive, while projects in fringe locations pose rising risks.

Nationally, some markets show signs of overheating – with cap rates and purchase prices skewed. This is likely a consequence of historically low interest rates permitting increased cash on cash rates of return.  The concern is, once again, the potential loss of value when these loans must be refinanced in 3 to 7 years if interest rates have risen significantly.

A general consensus was expressed that the Chicago commercial real estate market continues to have strong growth potential into the foreseeable future, and that secondary and tertiary markets also represent significant areas of opportunity for CRE investment.

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BOTTOM FEEDERS – A Leading Economic Indicator?

Bottom Feeders – and Bottom Feeder Funds – Our New BFF?

Bottom feeders have a distasteful reputation with some – but, truth be told, they are among the most reliable leading economic indicators of recovery for the commercial real estate industry.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-financial-crisis-word-cloud-illustration-image29153144There is a stunning disconnect between equity markets and the economy as a whole. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at record highs, with 15,000 in plain sight.  Equity investors are betting on a bright future. To gauge the economy by that measure, the economy appears to be healthy and rebounding nicely.

Leave Wall Street, and drive through urban and suburban retail districts, and the picture is not so bright. Vacant and boarded up storefronts are common. Parking lots are in disrepair. Shopping center signs are blank – or filled with half burnt-out signs displaying names of tenants past.

Sure. Commercial deal flow is beginning to pick up, but compared to what? A car travelling three miles per hour can triple its speed, but it is still moving at a remarkably slow pace by most standards.

I went for a drive recently, touring retail shopping centers and office parks to find out where the action is.  The answer?  Almost nowhere.   It didn’t really surprise me. Although deal flow is picking up in my practice, most deals are with cash-rich bottom feeders (or bottom feeder funds)  buying up distressed properties.  Not that I’m knocking bottom feeders. Chances are good they will (more…)

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