How to Select a
Commercial Lender: Part I
Written By Mark Hulsey

Throughout a normal work week, the seasoned brokers at RE/MAX Results Commercial Group are playing matchmaker in one way or another for our clients. It’s how we get business done. Often, we’re connecting commercial & investment real estate buyers with the best lender and bank options as we consider all circumstances surrounding the transaction and the buyer.
Many sales executives in real estate have their one go-to mortgage person. Transaction details like who, what, when, where and why just don’t seem to matter to them. They simply send it to “their guy”. In commercial real estate, that doesn’t serve anyone in the deal, including the buyer, lender and certainly not the seller. That’s a blind-referral versus a smart, qualified referral.
Who is the best match for the buyer to get this transaction not only closed & funded, but also, who offers the best terms and service? It’s critical to understand that not all lenders are created equal! They all have a good pitch and speak to things like ‘relationship and quick approvals,’ but it takes a savvy buyer to dig a little deeper and be sure they want to go into business with a particular lender.
Bigger is Not Always Better
It’s important to note that bigger is NOT always better when it comes to picking a commercial lender. And, it’s not only about rate. It can be about the additional demands of a lender regarding deposits, recourse or the depth of services offered that will truly serve the property or business owner.
Our focus at Results Commercial is serving sellers because we know how to properly package, position, and market a property to ensure maximum exposure. However, we are often an essential component in working with the buyer side to be sure the best resources are being engaged for the transaction including everything from real estate attorneys, to survey and environmental companies, to architects, lenders, inspectors and title companies. This matchmaking or transactional supervision is one of the many behind-the-scenes ways we serve our sellers. Regardless of buyer or seller side, what matters most is working with commercial brokers directly connected to deep industry resources.
So, we’re matchmakers. But what does that mean when it comes to matching up buyers with lenders? What is the key criteria we need to know at the early stages of a transaction to determine the best commercial lender option?
Understanding the Deal
Here’s the first round of buyer questions to understand the basic transaction criteria:

  • Property Type?
  • Location?
  • Purchase Price?
  • Owner Occupied or Investment?
  • Property Condition, Vacancy, or NOI? (If available)
  • Challenges Including: Zoning, Parking, Compliance or Leasehold Improvement Requirements

From this information, the list of potential lenders should start to filter out.

Scroll Down to Read: How to Select a Commercial Lender: Part II
Net-Lease Investment - Feist Animal Hospital
1430 Marshall Ave, St. Paul

NNN Investment Coming Soon!
Contact Mark Hulsey , Broker of Record,
for more information
Petra Fager, RE/MAX Results
Total Referral Fee: $5,696.63

Referring business to Mark Hulsey and the RE/MAX Results – Commercial Group is an easy and profitable decision. When commercial business comes my way I enthusiastically tell the person that they have come to the right place. I make an email, or an in person, introduction and Mark and his team take it from there. They know the right questions to ask to determine what the client needs, and they have experience that runs the gamut of large, medium and small types of properties and uses. The next thing you know, you’ll be collecting a commission check. 

Thank you, Petra!
-Mark Hulsey, Managing Broker
2508 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
LIST PRICE: $679,000

Just listed with offers received already!
Prime Stand-Alone Uptown Location on this 3,548 Square Foot,
2 unit retail/office building with 10 parking spaces in the rear.
700 E. Main St, Anoka

Gorgeous, stand-alone 8,177 SF building currently used as a jewelry store. Buyer to repurpose the building for a different use. Mark Hulsey, is handling the sale of this property.
16777 Marketplace Dr, Big Lake

3 unit retail with active gas station and C store. Strong investment for Buyer Manager in the business.
Hayden Hulsey, CCIM, and Mark Hulsey are managing the transaction.
6023 42nd Ave N, Crystal

Corner stand-alone restaurant under contract. Property will be repurposed for different use. Mark Hulsey, handled the sale of this property.
Net Lease Investment
Arby's Lindstrom
SOLD PRICE: $1,780,000

NNN sale closed for 1031 tax exchange buyer. Strong performing store with market cap rate of 6.7%. Sale price $1,780,000.
Residential Development Land
9770 & 9880 Military Rd, Cottage Grove

$1,132,000 - Two parcels totaling 15.72 acres sold to a Regional Developer for residential development. Hayden Hulsey, CCIM, handled the transaction.
Net Lease Investment
Sunbelt Rentals, Rogers

NNN Investment sale closed in Rogers for Sunbelt Rentals. $2,580,700 sale price at 6.7% cap rate. Mark Hulsey was the Broker of Record.
Stand-Alone Office
5300 US Hwy. 12, Maple Plain

8,400 SF office building sale in Maple Plain. Local investment buyer. Hayden Hulsey, CCIM, handled the transaction.
How to Select a
Commercial Lender: Part II
Understanding the Buyer
With the next set of buyer questions, the criteria and options become better defined:

  • Does the Buyer currently have a bank they use for their everyday banking?
  • Have they talked with their current bank’s commercial loan department for pre-qualification? (Subject to standard underwriting, appraisal & loan committee approval, if applicable.)
  • Does working with their current bank feel comfortable to the Buyer or would they prefer a different lender?
  • Type of loan under consideration: Conventional or SBA?
  • Creditworthiness of the Buyer: Strong, Medium or Weak?
  • Does the Buyer own other commercial real estate? How sophisticated are they in the CRE space?
  • Does the buyer have the capital in-hand for all acquisition, build-out costs and reserves?
Now, at this point, in the discovery process for finding a lender match for the Buyer, there’s ample information to provide the best two or three lender recommendations.
I think it’s a reasonable starting point to consider the current banking relationships the buyer has as long as they’re satisfied with their lender’s service. It’s a simple route to initially explore since their bank already has a lot of information regarding their banking history and creditworthiness. Plus, it does not mean the buyer is making a commitment to them. It’s just a logical great starting point as the buyer prepares to shop for their best debt and loan options.

As all lenders will tell you, it’s all about the relationship and not necessarily just the rate. Yes, rate matters, but there’s a lot more to the story. Like everything in business, it’s a two-way street. Lenders are looking at buyers and quickly determining if they want them as a customer. And, buyers need to be looking at all of their lender options and determining which one they want in their corner.

There are many excellent lender options for commercial real estate buyers in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro and greater Minnesota at this time. Plus, it’s not just cookie-cutter terms out there in the debt market. There are many bankers and lenders who really know how to problem-solve on behalf of their clients. They’re experienced. They’ve seen it all. That’s how they can quickly determine if the buyer fits the lending profile for the bank’s business focus.

Buyers must be diligent in exploring their options. If the buyer is of high-net worth with fantastic credit, then they qualify to shop some of the larger banking institutions that may be able to cater to their needs through their private client wealth department. There are plenty of mid-sized local lenders and community banks that are equally qualified here, too, sometimes even better than the giants. Small and mid-size banks can provide fast and personalized service. Less layers of bureaucracy to cut through and many of those loan officers really take the time to learn about their customer’s business so they can stick with them for the long-haul.
Personal banking and lending relationships are golden. It’s very powerful when a consumer can just call their lender and consider it done – big or small. That’s the service many of us have come to expect. As long as we’ve done our part, then we need our lender partners closely connected to support our growth.
I hope this has helped you to re-think how we as an industry should approach matching-up commercial real estate buyers with the best commercial lender options. It makes the transaction process not only effective, but also very efficient with satisfied buyers, sellers, and lenders.

To Learn More About Results Commercial,
Contact Mark Hulsey , Managing Broker
St. Paul Mixed-Use
1564 West 7th St, St. Paul

Cute affordable building on busy West 7th St.. Current salon on lower level with 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment up. Perfect for professional services office or investment.
8628 Eagle Creek Circle, Savage

Beautiful finish on 5,040 SF office condo. Seller willing to lease back half of unit. Excellent floorplan with main level shop or storage.
REDUCED $75,000
Hot Rod's Bar
1553 University Ave. W., St. Paul
Sale Price: $1,250,000

Great University Ave opportunity located directly across from the NEW Allianz Stadium. 10,300 SF - Zoned T-4 Traditional Neighborhood. Contact Hayden Hulsey, CCIM or Mark Hulsey for more information.
REDUCED $20,000
Johnny Baby's Bar
981 University Ave. W., St. Paul
Sale Price: $629,900

Profitable bar looking for new owner or strong location for new use or redevelopment. Located in an Opportunity Zone. Zoned T2-Traditional Neighborhood. Contact Doug Harris for more information.
REDUCED $16,000
Western WI Bar with Acreage
W8945 US Hwy. 10, Ellsworth
Sale Price: $399,900

Established bar/restaurant + 18 acres with campgrounds on the Trimbelle River. Contact Doug Harris for more information.
RE/MAX Results – Commercial Group
RE/MAX Results – Commercial Group, founded in 2003, is a Top-Rated, Commercial & Investment Real Estate Brokerage Firm based in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Our seasoned and CCIM trained Brokers focus on Office, Retail, Industrial, Multi-Family / Apartments, Land, and Net-Lease Investments.
Primary Offices:
748 Grand Ave, St. Paul, MN 55105
1609 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
5201 Eden Ave, Edina, MN 55436
604 Bielenberg Dr #100, Woodbury, MN 55125
11200 W 78th St, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
125 Lake St W, Wayzata, MN 55391