CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms
CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms
Who Should You Trust?
by Kevin Duty
There are many CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms in the market to choose from. How do you know who you should trust? There are several key points that good CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms should feature on its resume;
- Industry Experience: Anybody who has ever had a loan of any kind can put up a sign and call themselves a Loan Restructuring Firm. Anybody who has ever had a CMBS loan will immediately tell you that CMBS is unlike virtually any other loan product out there. The rules are not the same, neither is the process of getting a restructure. That’s why it is CRITICAL that a CMBS Loan Restructuring Firm have a staff with years (Decades!) of CMBS Loan SERVICING experience. Notice that I said “SERVICING” experience, not “loan” experience. When you are working on a restructure of your CMBS loan, you will be working with loan SERVICERS, not Originators, or Appraisers or Underwriters, and ESPECIUALLY not Attorneys! You want someone that has “been there, done that and has the t-shirt to prove it”! The processes and considerations for getting a restructure are complex and involve MANY things other than the borrower, the asset and the request. Someone who has Servicing experience will know what those things are and how to navigate the mine-laden waters to a safe harbor.
- Tenure of Company: We see it all the time; when markets decline, and new origination falls off, many originators and other industry types (other than loan servicers) try to fill the slow down by working in the restructure space until things improve, then they go back to doing whatever they did before and leave restructuring behind. The problem with that concept is that the CMBS market is an ever-evolving animal. Favored restructure methods and strategies are always changing as Special Servicers and Investors change THEIR philosophies. What worked last year, or even 6 months ago, may not work today. CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms that have been in the business for many years adapt with the market and can even help shape new trends. If you’re constantly popping in and out of the market, you will be sadly behind the times, potentially at the expense of your client (the Borrower).
- Industry Relationships: This thought ties in with #1. If you are retaining a CMBS Loan Restructure Firm, and are careful to select one that has a staff with extensive CMBS Loan Servicing experience, you are also hiring the relationships that come with that experience. The same people that used to be colleagues in servicing are still “friends”, even if now looking at the same transaction from different sides of the proposal. I deal with Special Servicing Asset Managers on a daily basis that are friends of mine from my Servicing days. What that means is that; I know who to call, and I can trust that the call will be answered. The Asset Manager won’t do me any “favors”, we both have our jobs to do, but I know that they will talk to me, which is not always the case with SOME CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms.
- Fee Stucture: Are the fees front-loaded so that there is little or no incentive to produce results? Or are the fees structured such that the borrowers and CMBS Loan Workout Firm’s interests are aligned and focused on getting a deal done?
- Legal Approach or Business Approach: Don’t get me wrong, I have many friends that are attorneys, and, YES, there are certain times and situations that call for a legal approach to a situation. BUT, know that as soon as you bring an attorney into the mix, the Special Servicing Asset Manager, who is the person responsible for getting your proposal through his credit committee, will virtually ALWAYS shut down communication and send all contact through his counsel. This usually serves no point, except for slowing down the process and greatly increasing legal fees to get a deal done. You are MUCH better served by trying to get a deal done with the Business side first, then, and only as a last resort, introducing legal counsel into the process.
In the end, not all CMBS Loan Restructuring Firms are created the same. Check out reputations, check out past successes, find out what the approach of choice is for a firm before you engage. The fact is, not all firms are in business to help the borrower. Some are in it to get your initial fee, then move on to the next deal, yielding poor results for the borrower. In the long run a little bit of diligence can go a long way towards increasing your chances of success.