Commercial Broker Fee Agreement – Exclusive Or Non Exclusive?

Commercial mortgage brokers are constantly asking themselves if they should ask their clients for an exclusive relationship or go the “easier route” and secure a non exclusive fee agreement. What’s the difference? What’s the pros and con’s of both? That’s the point of this brief article.

An exclusive relationship within the commercial mortgage field can be thought of as a listing agreement within the real estate brokerage side of the business. Or more specifically the exclusive agreement should be thought of as a tenant representation agreement for those that are familiar with that agreement.

Essentially the exclusive agreement states that the borrower agrees to work with the mortgage broker on an exclusive basis with shopping for lenders, negotiating term sheets and coordinating the processing and closing of the loan (among other legal issues I’m not qualified to discuss). The commercial mortgage broker is handling the whole transaction on behalf of the borrower and typically is looking out for the borrower interests. A non exclusive agreement still covers a lot of the same issues but gives the borrower the right to work with other lenders/ brokers. So there’s no guarantee that you’ll win the deal and or get paid.

The main advantage for the commercial mortgage broker to get an exclusive is that the borrower has committed to working with the broker, and at the end of the deal the broker will get paid. For those reading this article that have worked on deals for months with borrowers and to find out they lost it because of 10 basis points or slightly lower fees know how bad this can sting.

Most exclusive fee agreements cover a lot more than the exclusivity issue; retainers, expenses covered, minimum fees are some of the more important issues. For example having a borrower send you a thousand dollar retainer and a signed exclusive agreement says a lot; that he’s on board and going to work with you.

There are disadvantages though of going for an exclusive agreement. The obvious is that many borrowers simply will not want to sign off on this. It can be a hard sell. They’ll want you to “get them quotes” or “see what you can offer” first. Basically the borrower will want to keep total control and will only want to work with you if you can produce the best deal. So you stand to lose working on the deal if they don’t agree. You may know that perfect bank for the deal and or just want to work on it with the hopes of building a solid relationship along the way.

Also, YOU may not want to work on the deal on an exclusive basis. Believe me when I tell you that if your borrower agrees to a 5 page agreement and sends you a $1000 retainer, that they will want to get their money’s worth and are not going away. If they deal is weak and you find you can’t get it done, you’ll have to invest a lot more time into the deal than wanted and or break off the relationship and risk tarnishing your reputation.

So, unfortunately there’s no simple answer if you should go for an exclusive commercial mortgage broker fee agreement or not. But you should get you borrower to sign something that says you’re working with him and that you’ll get paid at close.

Commercial Mortgage Broker Fee Agreement

Now having a good commercial mortgage broker agreement in place with your borrower is more important than ever. As CMBS lenders like Lehman, Silver hill, etc have been taking the worst of it, we as commercial mortgage brokers are now forced to originate our commercial mortgages through traditional sources, i.e. regional or smaller banks.

These banks that for years saw their market share shrink are now in control. Many of them never bothered to increase their risk thresholds and or change their underwriting guidelines to stay competitive. They are now reaping the rewards of that prudence. Bottom line, they still have money to lend and many times their rates are considerable better than the rest of the market.

The challenge however for commercial brokers is that most of these smaller banks are not broker friendly. Or more accurately stated most of them are not set up to work with brokers like the CMBS lenders. For example it’s very rare that a smaller bank will pay rebate or ysp. Once in a while you may find a bank that will pay a .5% or 1% referral fee, but that’s it and it’s rare to find.

Rather many of these banks expect you to get paid on top of their 1% bank fee. Or worse many of them will want you to make your fee outside of close… When was the last time you chased a borrower for a $15,000 commission? If you don’t have it set up right from the beginning you will have a difficult time ever collecting. And besides collecting you will have a hell of a time competing on the deal.

So the point here, besides that this current market reality is not a lot of fun, is that if you think you’ll have to take your deals to a local banks, you’d better have your commercial mortgage broker fee agreement signed and in place before you bother to work on the deal.

The Art of Brokering Commercial Loans

Doc’s Secret # 2: Biggest Mistake of the New Commerical Broker

I take many calls each day as “The Money Doctor”. I receive tons of calls from broker’s around the country. These are all good, honest hardworking people. Many of these calls could have been avoided because the beginning commercial broker is not aware of the proper and proven operating strategies.

The conversation typically goes like this:

“Hey Doc, I’m new at this and I just landed a mega deal. Are you sitting down? I have signed an exclusive with a borrower for a $25M dollar deal to finance a health care facility. I sold the client that I could get the cash for him. My question is this: “Doc, where can I get a loan for this guy?”

My heart goes out to the broker and to the client! “Why didn’t you find the lender first , find out what areas the lender is interested in and what their requirements are? Then advertise for that certain type of loan? If you did this, then when your future clients call you would know where to take the loan and your clients would be seeking that specific type of loan.

If you did it this way, then all you have to do is qualify the borrower, collect the documents and package them to your lender’s request. That is much easier and will cause fewer gray hairs!
Unfortunately, these brokers are calling because they didn’t do it that way. Now the broker is scrambling for a lender , while stalling the borrower: not a good position to be in! The chances of success, of obtaining a commission on that $25M lead is slim, unless of course he wants to co-broker (and of course I’ll be happy to help! J)

Please the secret here is simple. Many brokers suffer from Lender Phobia. They are literally afraid to speak to the “Checkwriter”. Do yourself a favor and call some lenders and interview them. Lenders expect to be called by professionals. They make money when you bring them good loans. They want your business.

There are many broker friendly commercial lenders. It is important for your career to begin to groom your lending relationships. These are the people that will put money into your pocket month after month.

To Your Success!

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