Commercial Loans and Revolvers


A great many residential lenders make revolving lines of credit (home equity loans) on owner-occupied homes; so it it natural for lots of commercial loan brokers to ask if their investor clients can get a a line of credit, secured by an apartment building or an office building.

As a general rule, the answer is, “No.”  Commercial real estate lenders do not make lines of credit secured by investment real estate estate.  At least I have never seen or heard of it done in my 43 years in the commercial loan business.

Therefore, I was quite surprised to receive a newsletter from the fine folks at George Smith Partners – one of the oldest commercial mortgage banking firms in the country – that contained the following tombstone:

“George Smith Partners placed a structured senior and collateralized line of credit revolver in a cash-out execution for a business in Los Angeles. The first loan was structured to be self-liquidating over 15 years with a fixed rate of 3.90%. The $1,000,000 second trust deed is a true revolver that can be used as a check-book and has no limitations on uses.”

“The second loan is priced at 3.75% (Prime minus 1%).  Funds may be drawn down, re-paid and re-drawn without additional bank approval.  There is no non-utilization fee.  As the credit line is collateralized, there is no mandatory clean-up for funds outstanding over 12 months.”

A revolver is revolving line of credit that allows the borrower to borrow some dough, pay interest on it a for a few months, pay it off, allow the line of credit to rest for six weeks, borrow some more money, pay half of it back, paying interest on the outstanding balance monthly, and then pay off the remaining balance in full.

This particular revolver had no utilization fee.  In other words, the borrower does not pay a fee each time that he draws down on his line of credit.

There was no annual clean-up for funds outstanding over 12 months either.  Bank regulators require that unsecured lines of credit to be rested (paid down to zero) for at least thirty days every year.

In this case, because the revolver was well-secured by commercial real estate, the bank did not require an annual clean-up.

So where do you go to get a revolver on commercial real estate?  I dunno.  Until recently, I would have sworn that such lines of credit, secured by commercial real estate, were never made.

Apparently, however, such revolvers are occasionally being made.  But then some people swear there is a Santa Claus, and I have never seen him either.  Folks, revolvers are very, very, VERY rare; and they are no doubt reserved for commercial loans of least $5 million, made to borrowers with almost as much dough as Michael Bloomberg, who apparently is $500 million poorer these days.  Haha!

Article By George Blackburne