Commercial property types are much more difficult to finance than residential due to the unique infrastructure involved. Because of this, commercial property types bring higher risk to the private lender should they need to foreclose – if the property usage is niche, reselling can become a nightmare.
This greater risk means commercial lenders will usually stay in a very narrow lane of what they will and won’t do, with a lot more specialization and nuance involved in the loan. While private lending is never cookie-cutter, commercial lending takes it to the next level. You will need to complete extensive due diligence on each party involved in closing your loan to ensure everything is done correctly. An attorney is a must.
The many commercial property types
Click the terms below to scroll to that property type’s description:
- Business equipment
- Healthcare facilities
- Hotels and motels
- Office building
- Raw land
- RV parks
- Shopping centers
- Vacant land
Anything to do with farming in the U.S. will fall under very different regulation than other kinds of property or loans. Reasons include the prevalence of farming subsidies and agricultural property’s unique zoning which often allows both residential and commercial use on one land parcel.
Agricultural property includes land devoted toward raising livestock and crops, and may include farmland, pasture and rangeland.
Business equipment as a category encompasses everything from office equipment like computers, desks and printers to industrial equipment and machinery. Generally business equipment is anything not built into a property that can be uninstalled and/or removed from the premises, even if done so with difficulty.
Business equipment can be one of the easier commercial property types for which to secure loans due to its ability to transport for resale.
Church loans are among the most difficult to finance for several reasons:
- The building structures are often unique, so if a lender forecloses it can be difficult to sell.
- The financial structure under which churches operate are unique and don’t lend themselves to the traditional personal guarantee. Often church members will have to authorize individual personal guarantees.
- Due to the private lender’s risk, the loans are usually smaller than what a borrower needs or wants.
While these are not insurmountable, a borrower looking for financing for a church will usually need to find a private lender who specializes in church financing.
Healthcare facilities range from small clinics and doctors’ offices to urgent care and hospitals – generally, any location that meets health-related needs. Healthcare facilities usually require unique, built-in infrastructure. You’ll also find unique layouts with combinations of waiting, patient exam, patient treatment, lab and HIPPA-compliant office space.
Hotels and motels
Aside from public perceptions of which is “nicer,” technically speaking hotels are building structures with rooms opening to interior hallways, while motel rooms open to the outdoors.
Purchase and renovation of an already-operational hotels or motels are much easier to finance than new construction. For operational hotels that are not performing well, the lender will want to know why – poor management and operational practices can be fixed, while a bad location cannot. You will need to show how you plan to fix these issues; a good track record of your own is always helpful.
Industrial property is a large subclass of commercial property that commonly encompass “heavyweight” or “dirty job” uses: warehousing and distribution, factories, refrigeration and cold storage, telecom and data, flex buildings (combination of industrial, office and/or retail usage), research and development, and showroom buildings that combine retail display and storage/distribution.
Broadly, a marina is anywhere boats, yachts and other small watercraft dock. Beyond the ability to dock boats, marinas often have further amenities and even other businesses – like retail and restaurants – that operate together on marina premises. Like condos and apartments, a marina may be wholly owned by one borrower, or have individually-owned units with or without a landlord who owns the shared amenities.
Mixed-use is a bit of a squishy term that can mean different things to different people. Primarily it refers to a single real estate development that incorporates everything from retail, entertainment, hotels and residential to office buildings and parks/gardens. These developments may be single buildings, multiple buildings on one property, or multiple properties (often taking up city blocks or encompassing entire neighborhoods).
While highly specialized and requiring a lot of capital, this kind of development can be less risk for a lender as it’s spread over several different markets – if one tanks, the others may be able to pick up the slack. These markets also often work in synergy, insulting each other as they make use of each other’s services. Mixed-use is also generally exclusive to urban areas, making it easier to find business tenants that fit the development’s infrastructure and amenities.
However, these projects can also be more difficult to execute as the lender must evaluate each use separately, with zoning and building approvals becoming harder and design details increasing exponentially.
Office buildings tend to be more easily financed than many other commercial loans due to their plug-and-play ability for most businesses. Office building financing falls into categories similar to apartments, condos, single-family and multi-family residences:
- A “landlord/owner” who owns the whole building and wishes to rent it out to tenants
- Individual unit owners who operate an owners association for building maintenance or have a landlord/owner who owns and maintains everything outside the unit
- An owner who operates their business from the building, and may rent out unused space to other businesses.
You can find information about raw land in our residential section, as the definitions are similar. Be aware that changes in how the land is zoned will reflect different codes and requirements for both how to the land is developed and what structural and safety features buildings must have.
Retail is a broad category that refers to any property that has a public/consumer-facing storefront for the purpose of selling goods and services. This includes shopping centers, big-box stores, pop-up shops and individual stores. Similar to office buildings, private lending for this kind of property can be easier to find due to ease of transitioning occupancy.
RV parks also go by overnight and destination parks and are akin to hotels and motels in the temporary nature of their stay. While mobile home and RV parks are sometimes combined in one facility, they are not the same. In most states, RV park users do not have the rights of tenants and require different management and operational practices.
It is also harder to find financing for RV parks, as they tend to be even more niche than mobile home parks. In addition, recordkeeping as a whole for this industry tends to be thin, with the properties more run-down.
Shopping centers or malls are a specialized category of retail property that contains many storefronts for different businesses, usually leased to tenants rather than individually owned (although sometimes there is a combination of the two). Due skyrocketing online shopping, financing for shopping centers is becoming more difficult to come by. Many once-packed malls are now defunct and being repurposed for other uses, and private lenders are very aware of the higher potential for default.
You can find information about vacant land in our residential section, as the definitions are similar. Be aware that changes in how the land is zoned will reflect different codes and requirements for both how to the land is developed and what structural and safety features buildings must have.