How It Works - Commercial Bridge Loans
$1.0 MM - $50.0 MM
1st Mortgage Lien Security
3 Year Term
Rates Starting At
We offer quick funding for a variety of needs:
Highly structured transactions
Discounted note pay-offs
Complex deal structures
Bankruptcy and receivership resolutions
Rehabilitation / construction
Redevelopment / repositioning
Lease-up / stabilization
Other uses depending on borrower’s specific needs
Commercial Bridge Loans
Commercial bridge loans are a flexible loan arrangement intended to provide short term financing until an exit strategy, like a refinance or sale, can be executed. Commercial bridge loans act as interim funding, facilitating the purchase of commercial real estate and completion of rehabs or upgrades, but not acting as permanent financing. A commercial bridge loan provides financing to purchase a commercial property that’s in need of significant renovations or upgrades. They can also be used by borrowers not yet able to qualify for permanent financing.
What Are Commercial Bridge Loans?
Commercial bridge loans (also known as commercial mortgage bridge loans) are short-term commercial real estate loans that are used for the purchase of commercial properties when permanent financing is not an option. Their primary use is when a property needs significant renovation before it will qualify for permanent financing. However, there are other reasons a borrower might want to consider a bridge loan:
The property has unsatisfactory occupancy rates
The borrower’s credit profile needs improvement
The borrower can’t wait for permanent financing
Incomplete ownership / project team in place
Bridge loans typically have repayment terms of between 6 months and 3 years, after which the property is either sold or refinanced with permanent financing.
Commercial bridge loans can be used for the purchase or refinance of office buildings, hotels, retail property, multifamily housing including apartment complexes, and even for raw land that will be developed for commercial purposes.
They feature quick closings and the loan amounts are based on the fully improved value of the property, rather than its “as-is” value. In this way, commercial mortgage bridge loans provide the capital that a real estate investor needs in order to close on opportunities quickly, complete necessary renovations (if needed), and either sell or refinance into permanent financing with affordable monthly payments.
Unlike SBA 7a loans or CDC / SBA 504 loans, which require the majority of the property be used for your business to operate out of, commercial mortgage bridge loans can be used for non-owner occupied property. That means bridge loans can be used on commercial investment properties and income producing properties.
Who Are Commercial Mortgage Bridge Loans Right For?
Commercial bridge loans can be a valuable tool for those looking for investment real estate (commercial, residential, or industrial) or for businesses looking for space to operate out of.
The most common purpose of a commercial mortgage bridge loan is for the purchase and improvement of an underutilized commercial property. They enable you to both purchase a property that’s in poor condition and perform needed renovations and upgrades.
Example: Using Commercial Bridge Loans to Buy & Renovate Investment Property
Let’s say you’re purchasing a 20 unit apartment building that’s in poor condition and has only 50% tenant occupancy. Because of it’s poor state, you are able to purchase the property at a significant discount. While the property might be worth $2.5 million if it were completely renovated and tenant occupancy was increased to 90% or more, you may be able to buy it for $1 million in its current state.
Renovating the apartment building to a place where it’s appraised at $2.5 million will cost an additional $1 million. The commercial bridge loan provider will the assign the property a loan-to-cost value of $2 million ($1 MM purchase + $1 MM renovation = fully renovated). A commercial bridge loan provider will typically limit their lending to this loan-to-cost and not the potential resale value.
Most commercial mortgage bridge loans will be available for up to 80% of loan-to-cost (LTC). With a final cost of $2 million, the lender will provide financing for $1.6 million. This will enable you to purchase the property for $1 million, and have $600,000 to pay for renovations. The remainder of the funds needed – in this case, $400,000 – will come from your own funds.
Once the renovations have been completed, you have a property worth $2.5 million, and will be in a position to refinance the bridge loan with permanent financing or sell the property for a profit.
Other Ways to Use Commercial Mortgage Bridge Loans
While purchasing and renovating commercial properties is the most common use for commercial mortgage bridge loans, there are other situations where they can be helpful.
For example, since commercial mortgage bridge loans are primarily asset-based, you may be able to use one to purchase a property at a time when your credit profile is less than ideal. In an industry that can result in large swings in important underwriting ratios like debt-to-income (DTI) and debt service coverage (DSCR) and even result in mechanics lien, a less than ideal credit profile means more than just “bad credit.” A commercial bridge loan can allow you to obtain temporary financing that lasts long enough for you to resolve other credit issues in order to obtain permanent financing at a later date.
Commercial bridge loans can also be a good fit for borrowers when they have an opportunity with a limited time window and need to secure financing quickly. Similarly, if while permanent financing typically require you to have a complete project / management team in place, a commercial bridge loan can be obtained to secure an opportunity while you finish working out final details.
Commercial mortgage bridge loans can also be used to purchase and develop raw land, to demolish existing structures and rebuild, or for purchasing, renovating and selling existing properties, (aka fix-and-flip loans). Unlike blanket mortgages, commercial bridge loans apply to a single property and have a due-on-sale clause.
How Do Commercial Mortgage Bridge Loans Work?
Commercial bridge loans work by lenders making riskier loans for short periods of time. While providers or permanent commercial real estate financing will lend based on current LTV (loan to value), commercial bridge loan providers will lend based on LTC or ARV (after-repair-value). Their financing allows you to bet on the property’s future value, not its current value.
A commercial bridge loan works best when you’re acquiring your target real estate at a large discount, typically due to poor condition or poor management. Once you have your target and reasonable estimates of the necessary renovations to bring the property up to standard, you’re ready to apply for bridge financing.
The lender will evaluate not only the property and your renovation plans, but also the property’s market (real estate market, job market, etc.) before deciding to approve or reject the project. If approved, the lender will determine pricing for the loan based on the risk involved. Unlike permanent commercial real estate financing, bridge loans are highly customized products, so the rates and terms can vary significantly.
Commercial Bridge Loans: Terms, Rates, & Fees
Commercial Bridge Loan Details
Loan Amounts: $1 million - $40 million (or higher)
Loan Terms: 6 months - 3 years
Loan-to-Value (based on final value): Up to 80%
Interest Rates: 6 month LIBOR + spread of 4.5 - 5.5
Current Rates: 6.0% - 10.25%
Origination Fee: 1.0% - 6.0%
Closing Costs: Origination fee + 2% - 4% of loan amount
Amortization: Interest only
Prepayment Penalty: N/A or several months interest
Turn-Around Time: 2.5 weeks - 5 weeks
Commercial mortgage bridge loan providers generally require a minimum deal size of $1 million, but there is virtually no maximum. The actual amount of the loan is determined primarily by a combination of the value of the property, the cash flow it generates, and the net worth of the borrowers.
The loan amount will be determined by a combination of loan-to-cost ratio (LTC) and loan-to-value ratio (LTV). The LTC is calculated based on the acquisition cost of the property, plus the expected cost of renovating it. The lender will generally make a loan equal to between 65% and 80% of the LTC.
The lender will also consider the finished value of the project. The value will be determined by market value upon completion, as well as the cash value generated on the completed property. They will make loans of up to 80% of the LTV based on that finished value.
Interest rates are generally based on the six-month LIBOR index, plus a spread of 4.5 – 5.5 points, though this calculation can vary by lender and by the property being financed. Commercial bridge loans are normally interest-only loans, not fully amortizing. Prepayment penalties, where applicable, are generally limited to a relatively small amount of interest.
Qualifying for a Commercial Mortgage Bridge Loan
Qualifications for a commercial bridge loan will vary from lender to lender. That said, the table below summarizes typical qualification requirements for commercial mortgage bridge loans:
Common Commercial Bridge Loan Requirements
Debt Service - Coverage Ratio1.10 - 1.25
Experience - Prior success in similar projects
Credit Score - 650+ (check yours here for free)
Net Worth - Equal to the loan amount requested
Cash Reserve - Sometimes replacement or interest reserves
Documentation - Financial statements on all principals, two years tax returns, rent rolls, schedule of leases, income and expense statements on subject property, executive summary, action plan, breakdown of renovation costs
Debt Service Coverage Ratio
One of the most important qualifiers is your ability to handle the debt obligation. This is typically calculated by using the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR). That ratio measures the annual net operating income (NOI) of the property, which is the total gross income from rents, less property taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and maintenance, and sometimes a vacancy factor. The net annual operating income must be sufficient to cover at least the annual carrying costs for the financing. 100% coverage is expressed as 1.00, and lenders will typically require a ratio of 1.1 – 1.25.
You (and other owners) also have to supply a resume to demonstrate your prior experience working on the type of project that you’re currently undertaking. Your level of experience will have an impact on the size of the loan you’ll receive, the cost of originations, and the amount you be asked to hold in reserve. You can generally assume that if you have no prior experience in the project you need the loan for, that the loan will not be approved.
Commercial bridge loans, in general, will not exceed the total net worth of the individuals applying for the loan. When applying for a bridge financing, you will have to provide financial statements on all principals. The lender will use these to evaluate the financial strength of the individual or group applying. They will also use it to determine the collective net worth of the applicants. You can use our free net worth worksheet to calculate and document your net worth.
Bridge loan providers may also require that you show sufficient cash reserves to cover certain contingencies, such as replacement reserves on apartment buildings. More commonly, they will hold back a certain amount of the loan proceeds as an interest rate reserve. That will provide the lender with a fund from which to draw monthly interest payments, while the property is in renovation status, and not generating a full cash flow.
While credit score play a very significant role in qualifying for many other types of financing, they are not as important for commercial bridge loans. Most bridge loan providers will check your credit, and will expect a credit score above 650, however this is primarily to verify that refinancing the loan with permanent financing is a viable exit strategy. DSCR and other measurements, like net worth, will be more important qualifications than credit scores.
Personal (all borrowers and principals)
Property & Project
Income and expense statements from the previous property owner
Rent rolls (download a free template here)
Schedule of leases
Executive summary (or action plan)
Breakdown of renovation costs and project schedule
Exit strategy (sale, refi, etc.)
Once your documentation has been submitted, the lender will order an appraisal of the subject property, including an environmental study. They also commonly request a “broker’s letter of value” on the property, provided by a commercial real estate broker who has significant experience in the local commercial real estate market. They will also order a survey of the subject property, as well as a title search and title insurance.