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Playing Small Ball In 2014


Small business lending ball, that is. (Not that small-ball Heat lineup the Bulls trounced last week.) The niche product for owner-occupied real estate will continue to flourish in 2014, experts say, thanks to near all-time low rates and some favorable legislation in the pipeline.


SomerCor 504 VP Bill Kornit (snapped with his wife Brandi) says the firm's SBA lending (90% financing, for owner/operators who use at least 51% of the property) has been incredibly active, given today's 20-year, fixed-rate loans at about 5% interest and an abundance of value-add opportunities with real estate's depressed pricing. Most often, it's companies that have been leasing their property and are now choosing to purchase as a way to build wealth. (Or because they have a sentimental attachment.) A shining star on the horizon: The SBA's refi program, a smashing success that sunsetted in September 2012, should be returning full throttle next year, Bill hears from SomerCor's lobbyists.


Here are Bill's two kids, Colin and Nolan, who keep him busy with wrestling and baseball. (Though they are probably always in the market for good pillow fort real estate.) The refi program should be a strong driver of financing next year, he tells us, especially for borrowers with five-year balloons coming due or in a high LTV position. They can use the program to create 20-year, fixed-rate financing and tap into equityà to use for refinancing other debt. Bill's to-do list these days includes everything from the typically tougher deals (restaurants, hotels, gas stations) to desired borrowers like manufacturers and distributors. And med opportunities are booming, with doctors or dentists who might have leased their condo/facility for the past few years choosing to buy. Financing's easier, prices are relatively affordable, and rents have escalated, meaning the debt would be as low or lower than their current rent.


The main lending challenges continue to be cash flow (SomerCor's a cash flow--not collateral--lender) and appraisals, Bill says. The buyer and seller might agree on a price, but the appraisal might not be where it needs to be to close and values are suffering, he tells us. Since market conditions still favor buying existing versus ground-up development, Bill expects his deals to remain 75% existing and 25% new construction next year. He recently closed a loan for WhirlyBall's (some action, above) new $11M, ground-up facility at Webster and Elston, a relo for Oak Lawn Happy Hyundai, and a surgical center in Arlington Heights.

Related Topics: Arlington Heights, The SBA