Most investors know that hedge funds make commercial mortgage loans, but few know how to approach a fund or exactly how secure an approval.
The first and most important thing to remember about hedge fund managers is that they have a Wall Street mentality; they are stock traders at heart. A trader wants to get into a trade at the right price, see results quickly and exit the trade at a profit. Hedge funds that commit capital to commercial real estate lending are no different. They want to lend at a low LTV (loan-to-value) and get out quickly. Profit takes the form of interest and points, but the general mindset of the decision maker on the loan committee is no different from a member of the stock selection committee.
It is imperative that you present your loan as an opportunity for them to make good money, quickly and safely, not as a way for you to reach your goals. Do not talk about your problems; money managers will be empathetic but will not be sympathetic. Emphasize the strong points of your deal, your past successes and your strengths as the deal's sponsor. Keep the conversation optimistic. We all know it's tough out-there; sophisticated hedge funds want to fund people who are capable of overcoming obstacles.
The large majority of private lenders, including hedge funds and private equity firms are equity lenders. Hard equity in the real estate is the lenders downside risk protection. This is extremely important to big money hedge funds because they generally do not recover their capital by selling their loans to the government or to the bond market. Hedge funds are usually "portfolio lenders", meaning they use their own money to finance deals and hold the mortgage paper until it matures. Do not expect any loan offers from private funds to come in over 65% LTV (loan-to-value). If your deal does not meet this criterion, be prepared to inject more of your own cash or find a partner who can bring money to the closing table.
Your exit strategy is a paramount concern to hedge fund managers. Funds make "bridge" loans; short term, interim financing. They will need to know how you will pay them back and will need to be convinced that your exit will work. You must have a detailed, viable and credible exit strategy worked out before you approach a private funding source. It helps a-lot if you have an "in". For good or for ill, Wall Street works like a private club. They have their own language, their own traditions and their own ceremony's. If you are not member of the club getting their attention is much more difficult. For those on the outside of this specialized niche, it may be necessary to retain the services of a professional intermediary with Wall Street experience to get you in the door.
The banks, insurance companies and brokers are not lending like they used to. For many good quality commercial mortgage loans, private money is the only-game-in-town. Hedge funds are flush with cash and are hungry to make deals. If a real estate investor can develop a relationship with these unique lenders they will enjoy a seemingly endless source of funds.
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