Applying for a Commercial Mortgage? Here’s What You’ll Need

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For most investors, competitive financing is the biggest driver in achieving cash-on-cash yield, as well as overall investment returns, when acquiring income-producing properties. Understanding and navigating the capital markets is the single biggest challenge to investors seeking to maximize returns while funding the largest piece of the capital stack for property acquisitions.

But it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what to expect beforehand can lessen the burden, and applying early can help you better understand your financial options as well as give you more negotiating power and weight behind any of your offers. While every situation is unique, here are the basics of what you’ll need in order to apply for a commercial mortgage.

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Commercial Mortgages: Let’s Get Personal

While many loans are non-recourse that don’t require personal guarantees, lenders need to know exactly who they’re working with, so it’s up to you to provide not only your personal financial strength as a borrower, but equally important is to highlight your experience as an investor/operator of income-producing assets. Current net worth statements, along with resumes/bios demonstrating track record, are all important to have readily available to keep the process moving forward.

Related: Why the Wealthy Put Their Money Into Multifamily & Commercial Real Estate

Lenders will ask and verify through background checks and credit scores that you are credit-worthy to borrow the necessary funds when purchasing or refinancing your properties. As many have had difficult times through the last market correction, it will be important to address any “black marks” from your past and whether you’ve handed any assets back to the lender as a result of bankruptcies or foreclosures. It’s important to be up front with any past issues in order to establish trust and credibility with your new lender and avoid having to explain why these issues weren’t disclosed early in the process.


What’s Your Experience?

Illustrating track record and experience is more critical than ever, as lenders want to know they’re dealing with seasoned operators who know how to manage assets. In the case where this is your first such acquisition, it will be critical to add a “deep bench” to your team, whether in-house or third party, in order to demonstrate competency to your skill set and management team.

First time operators/investors may have a tough time convincing lenders that they are reliable and credible in not only modeling operating performance but also in running the day-to-day aspects of owning commercial real estate. At the end of the day, lenders don’t want to foreclose on the property and find themselves in a position where they are forced to asset manage their collateral. They’re in the business of lending, not operating, so it’s vital that you can demonstrate conservative projections that line up with well-known operating metrics of each asset class.

What You’re Worth

Going hand in hand with experience, lenders like to see a borrower’s net worth matching to some extent the value of the property being acquired, along with liquidity of roughly 10% of the loan amount AFTER equity has been invested. Again, while “non-recourse” loans are generally available, the lender wants to know that the borrower has the wherewithal to carry the property out of their own reserves should there be an unexpected dip in income to support operations and debt service.

Related: 5 Major Advantages Commercial Space Has Over Residential Property

Many borrowers will team up with multiple principals so that the combined net worth and liquidity match the lender requirements. All too often, borrowers attempt to take on too large of projects because they were able to raise the necessary equity capital, but fell short of lender required balance sheet strength as the key principal or sponsor.


Credit Where Credit is Due

Credit scores have become more relevant to determining a lender’s opinion of the borrower’s credit-worthiness. Lenders will always perform a credit check on anyone who applies for a mortgage, so if you know your credit score is less than 680, do something about it beforehand and work to bring that number up before you apply. To make the process quicker, supply the lender with all of the details pertaining to your credit accounts, which they can then compare to your credit report.

There are many more steps to successfully applying for a mortgage, but this should be a good starting point. Getting property-level information, as well as personal financials, rounded up beforehand will make the process much easier for you and the lender once you do apply. Then you can be on your way to successfully negotiating your property acquisition with confidence!

What’s your experience in getting commercial loans?

Leave your questions and comments below!

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin is a serial entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, publisher, educator, and co-author of How to Invest in Real Estate. He started BiggerPockets to help democratize the real estate investing landscape for himself and others, aiming to make it accessible for everyone, regardless of income or education. Today, BiggerPockets is the premier real estate investing website online with over one million members and reaching over 70 million people with the message of financial freedom through real estate investing. Joshua, along with his wife and three daughters, make their home in Denver, Colorado, and spend any time they can traveling, exploring, and adventuring. Read more about Joshua’s story in 5280 and


  1. Mike Dymski

    Commercial loan requirements come up often in the forums. I reply with the following:
    Credit score > 700
    DSC > 1.20
    Foreclosures = none
    Bankruptcies = none
    Net worth >= loan amount
    Liquidity = 12 months
    These vary by lender, borrower and property.

  2. Chris Smith

    What about experience level? What if you don’t have any commercial experience but meet the these requirements?

    Credit score > 700
    DSC > 1.20
    Foreclosures = none
    Bankruptcies = none
    Net worth >= loan amount
    Liquidity = 12 months
    These vary by lender, borrower and property.

    • Mike Dymski

      Experience = lender discretion. The criteria above are a decent starting point and then you add variability depending on lender, borrower and property.

      A borrow with zero REI experience but strong balance balance sheet and income may qualify. A borrower with a lot of REI experience in the property class in question may qualify if they do not meet some of the criteria. Some passive apartment investors sign on as key principals in other’s deals to gain the experience requirements required by lenders to prepare for their own deals.

      You are getting into the variable part of the decision process and that requires discussion with your lenders.

  3. Pamela Edwards

    How would you show a lender that you have experience? Do you put together a portfolio that shows the properties that you have owned, what renovations you did, what you leased them for and then what you sold them for? Does anyone have an example of this?

    • Mike Dymski

      Hey Pamela. some investors put together a financing package (or loan request) and some commercial mortgage brokers put one together for their clients. I used a commercial mortgage broker on my first loan and he assembled the package (transaction summary, transaction description, property information, property pictures, market information, description of my REI experience, my personal balance sheet, underwriting for the deal in question, my professional resume, rent roll, purchase contract.

      Google Jake and Gino credibility book…they have their financing package/business plan online somewhere.

      Some investors work with lenders without a package.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Thanks for pointing out that knowing what to expect from a loan can lessen the burden, and that applying early can help give yo more negotiating power. I imagine that many banks are used to dealing with people who have been fighting the need for a loan and are not super happy about being there. Being the customer who is proactive and happy to be working with your lender could just be the difference between getting a great rate and an average loan.

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