Banking as we once knew it is gone for a very long time. In fact, very few institutional banks funded large commercial projects in 2009. I have substantial visibility into the market and the only institutional activity I saw was banks calling their notes due immediately. Banks were forced to do this because of their own liquidity issues and many developers were left with no funds and the project(s) came to a screeching halt.
“Joe Developer” then knocked on every bank’s door only to find the same answer: “sorry, we are not lending right now.”
Since the death of institutional banking, the developers have gone to the private equity world to get their projects funded. My company has always worked exclusively in the private equity side of funding and have had to introduce many of these seasoned developers to the private funding world. Fortunately, this world is actually more simple and efficient than the traditional, institutional banking model. There are, however, some differences that anyone seeking private financing for the first time needs to be made aware of.
1. Your private funder usually has his own idiosyncrasies. For example, a funder may only be interested in hospitality projects in Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. That’s just his funding footprint. He knows the area and is comfortable lending there.
2. There are no referrals in the private money world. Period. Your local bank advertises their closings. Private money never discloses their transactions or their clients. Your private funder will have you sign an NCND, which means you cannot even reveal who funded your project. This protects the funder. He does not want to be vetted, interviewed or interrogated. He usually has a “gate keeper” or “master broker” that will qualify you. Once you fit his funding footprint, he will want to meet you face to face. At this point, the funder will give you every comfort level you will need to assure you of his abilities to fund your project.
3. Private money moves fast. If you, as a developer, have all of your business in order, you can fund in as little as a week.
4. Private money has no rules. Every funder has their own terms and will structure a loan in the most “make sense” way for your project. It’s best to hear what is offered than tell him what you will accept. As the old addage goes, “the tail will not wag the dog”.