Book lifts veil from the foggy world of commercial property finance

Book lifts veil from the foggy world of commercial property finance
Book lifts veil from the foggy world of commercial property finance

A senior industry executive has come out with a book on the predatory lending practices within the commercial finance sector.

The book, Get a Second Opinion before You Sign by Shane Reynolds of Reynolds Private Wealth, is about first and second tier lending, construction finance, preferred equity and distressed debt transactions.

Reynolds told the Australian Broker that the book attempts to “lifts the curtain” on under-the-table practices occurring in an unregulated industry with no consumer protection.

It targets the dual audience of consumers and mortgage brokers.

“I’ve always believed in giving the intellectual property to the people,” he was quoted by Australian Broker. 

“I had a number of fund managers tell me not to publish the book because it would take away an element of my advisory and their advisory business. They said I was giving the keys away; that clients would scrutinise our letters of offers and mandates. If you truly have a good business model then you shouldn’t concern yourself with the fine print. You should concern yourself with delivery.”

The book explains the steps in the preparation of a mortgage application and the process for successfully obtaining a commercial loan.

Reynolds said that “every broker in Australia should read this book 1) for product knowledge and 2) for developing that additional income stream and skillset to say to clients that you understand commercial loans”.

Unable to get loans from the banks, borrowers are “already distressed” before entering the unregulated commercial finance sector, Reynolds said. A further lack of knowledge from consumer and broker can put the borrower in a more vulnerable state.

“It depends on the desperation of the borrower as to the terms and conditions that they’re offered. You may find yourself in a situation where if you don’t fulfil your obligations under the agreement, you’ll have a caveat or mortgage on your property for fees. Unless you’re very well versed in commercial litigation, often you’re either faced with settlement provisions, terms with the lender or broker, or they simply enforce their position and sell you up.”

One common practice, according to Reynolds is called a “set up to fail” agreement in which the lender knows the borrower will default, using this as a way to create a deed of forbearance.

“Lending money is no longer built on the premise of receiving interest. It’s become about receiving interest and then taking the client’s security when their mortgage goes into default,” he said.

Aware of the client’s asset position, a lender may create a deed of forbearance, inserting additional security including a selection of properties that the client has in their portfolio.

“The moment the 60 days is up on the deed of forbearance, the lender then has rights against all those other properties as well. No one in their right mind would sign these agreements but borrowers are so in distress that they don’t know the difference.”

He said the commercial market lacked aggregators or franchises such as Yellow Brick Road or Mortgage Choice in the commercial space, so residential mortgage brokers need to be doubly aware when seeking information in the opaque world of commercial finance, he said.

“If you’re going to deal with these people, then just beware of the fine print. Get a second opinion from your lawyer before you sign anything and if there are nasty clauses in those agreements, strike them out.”

Mortgage Brokers Commercial Finance

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