The Right Strategy: Professional and personal development will help you find greater satisfaction

By: Keely Pate, Alternative Capital Solutions: Director of Development

Published for The Scotsman Guide / July 2022

Commercial real estate professionals have diverse backgrounds and experiences. After the initial entry into the business — whether through an employer or a training program — lenders, brokers, credit officers and other industry professionals all navigate their own unique career, both professionally and personally.

Where these professionals find themselves at the beginning of their careers, however, is not the final destination. Expanding knowledge and building new capabilities can lead to increased effectiveness and personal satisfaction. With ongoing regulatory and economic changes, technical advancements, and shifts in personal preferences and priorities, savvy lending professionals continuously evaluate where they are and where they want to be.
Continuing education enables mortgage finance professionals to maintain existing certifications and licenses, keep up with industry trends, diversify skill sets and prepare for new growth opportunities. With so many options in the marketplace, and limited time and resources, it can be challenging to identify the right development path for each professional’s unique needs and future goals.
An ongoing and intentional continuing education strategy can help commercial real estate professionals connect activities to desired outcomes while generating increased effectiveness and satisfaction. To quote John C. Maxwell, the renowned leadership expert, speaker and author, “If you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.”
You may be familiar with the concept of using a SWOT analysis to consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to a business or product. A personal SWOT analysis can help generate clarity about an individual’s current state of development, and the results can be used to map out an intentional path forward when it comes to professional development activities.

Evaluate your strengths

The first step is to evaluate current strengths in the areas of knowledge, skills and abilities. Then, through self-reflection and constructive feedback from others, consider weaknesses by identifying behaviors that could potentially jeopardize relationships, as well as gaps in knowledge or skills that could possibly lead to oversights or missed business opportunities.
After that, consider possible external threats that could hinder professional performance and results. Lastly, evaluate opportunities that are available within the industry and your community, as well as your professional network and other places.
The commercial mortgage industry, as those involved quickly learn, offers endless opportunity to specialize and diversify. The key for each professional is to identify which areas of specialization and diversification are right for them.
Your desired future might involve the identification of new clients within a current niche, expansion into a different geographic market, or even a new product launch or service offering. Painting the picture of a desired future expedites the decisionmaking process for professional development.
Once the current state and desired future state have been defined, it is time to explore specific continuing education options and evaluate how each initiative will lead to the desired result.
Resource constraints such as time, funds and logistics will largely factor into the selection process. The following programs and activities outline continuing education options that professionals in the commercial mortgage field have utilized, along with the connection to desired business results.

Licenses and certifications

When prioritizing continuing education, mortgage professionals should first understand the applicable state licensing requirements and the educational requirements to maintain that license. After that, optional certifications and other continuing education activities can be considered.
Jobs within the mortgage industry have varying licensing requirements, which also can differ from state to state. Currently, the distinction that drives licensing requirements is consumer lending versus commercial lending. Most consumer protection regulations are not applicable to loans made for business purposes. But regulatory changes may impact licensing requirements, subsequently affecting continuing education strategies for commercial mortgage brokers and other industry professionals.
Professional certifications are usually voluntary initiatives for individuals to gain proficiency and, particularly when granted with an exam, demonstrate mastery of related knowledge. Although some certifications require continuing education, most do not.
Colleges and universities offer a variety of adult continuing education programs. These are typically led by expert industry practitioners or faculty. Ranging in duration from a few days to several weeks, the programs usually include in-person learning, virtual learning and self-paced e-learning. This flexibility makes programs in other cities and states a possibility for professionals with busy schedules.

Networking opportunities

Another reason to take part in continuing education programs is the opportunity for networking. The adage, “It’s not only what you know, but also who you know,” rings true for those in the commercial mortgage industry. An active network of brokers, lenders, accountants, attorneys and business owners offers the expertise needed to meet your clients’ needs.
Establishing a greater presence on social media has enabled mortgage professionals to expand to new geographic markets and reach potential clients outside of their existing professional networks. Online sites offer a wealth of resources that show how to better utilize social media.
Videos on YouTube, posts on Reddit and simple Google searches offer step-by-step instructions and free online tools to help market your services on platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. Even if the decision is to outsource and have someone else manage your social media strategy, having a foundational knowledge of options and strategic considerations can lead to more informed decisions.

Skill expansion

Regardless of the industry, busy professionals can build capabilities through the expansion of skills outside of their direct job roles. For example, an experienced commercial mortgage professional dedicated time to the study of jiu jitsu. They found that it helped their ability to stay calm and solve problems under pressure.
Developing this skill relates to work situations, interacting with clients and troubleshooting challenging situations. As this person put it, there are many times in jiu jitsu where you are in a bad position with an opponent and panicking will only make it worse. You must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable and to think through the solution, because overreacting will not help the situation.
A business coach also can help a mortgage professional develop new skills and strengths, including the ability to better understand situations and effectively respond to them. Many people use their own experiences and perceptions to interpret situations, then act without fully understanding the intent and motivation of others. Responding effectively, in a way that meets the needs of the situation, can make the difference in securing a client and closing a deal when the stakes are high.
In a dynamic industry such as commercial real estate finance, professionals who can listen to the client’s needs and develop effective solutions are better prepared for success. Increasing self-awareness and awareness of others helps to develop emotional intelligence or emotional quotient. Having emotional intelligence allows professionals to respond thoughtfully to situations. Utilizing a business coach, completing a personality assessment, and learning about conflict and communication styles are tools that can result in consensus building, clarity, and satisfied clients and stakeholders.
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Continuing education is not a one-way journey with a single destination. Instead, it serves as a resource to help professionals achieve desired results. It is one step within an ongoing strategic process of envisioning potential outcomes and then mapping a strategy of how to get there.
With changing external opportunities and obstacles — and with new programs and continuing education options — regular review and reassessment is a best practice for staying current and achieving fulfilling professional outcomes. After all, if you want to reach your goals and fulfill your potential, become intentional about your personal growth. It will change your life.

 


Why Invest in Commercial Properties

Our Commercial Capital BIDCO team shared some excellent insight about investing in commercial properties in 2022. Read more below!

 

Commercial Real Estate has shown significant growth in 2021 over what will forever be known as a year of uncertainty in 2020. What was once considered a shuttering market just over a year ago, multi-family residential is full steam ahead while industrial and office space properties are also ticking upwards. With so many changes over the last 18 months, you may be asking yourself, “Why invest in a commercial property?” Our question for you is, “WHY NOT?”

 

According to the "May 2021 RCA CPPI: U.S." summary report, U.S. commercial real estate prices rose at a 1.3% annual rate from April 2020 to 2021. Driving that increase were apartments (up 7.6% year over year) and industrial properties (up 9.4%), the retail sector (up 1.3%), and office buildings (up 3%). – Millionacres.com

 

 

Commercial and Office Spaces:

From the rise of unique office spaces, the opening of satellite offices in suburbia as well as the reopening of corporate headquarters, offices are seeing a resurgence and where they’re popping up is a surprise to many.

 

With many companies now embracing a strong sense of employee culture that includes comfortable yet trendy surroundings, loft offices are some of the more popular choices across several industries – turning what were once retail-only spaces into multi-use spaces. Now these property types are an appealing investment choice for many who are looking for a diverse portfolio with more limited means.

 

Suburban office space and smaller square feet options for satellite offices are also excellent investment opportunities for those looking to invest in a property outside of a metro locale. This also allows the property owner to work with an experienced tenant who has other offices established in other locations. These general use spaces are also easily flipped allowing a new tenant to take over quickly and easily.

 

While not increasing as quickly or as steadily as residential, office space will continue to tick upward as employers finalize their reopening plans and prepare for most employees to transition back into offices full time over the next year.

 

Retail Brick-and-Mortar:

Retail will continue to evolve and find its pace over the next 12 months. One of the most hard-hit markets due to the pandemic, retail owners saw a surge in online sales, however, an increase in sales also occurred via curbside orders. This particular piece to the sales pie increased alongside a retail company’s increase in direct social media posts – allowing buyers to “shop a store’s social media,” purchase their products locally while also being able to receive their products same-day.

 

With this, we will see locally owned retail opting to keep their brick-and-mortar store fronts, but possibly look to increase their product storage and reconfigure their backstock needs as curbside orders continue and online orders increase.

 

“Same Day Pick-Up!” “Curbside!” These are phrases that have been promoted to buyers since the start of the pandemic – even across larger brands and corporations – allowing buyers to enjoy a slightly altered shopping experience while also receiving goods same-day as opposed to shipping and possible delays.

 

Strip malls and larger retail developments have also adjusted their selling strategy by implementing these additional forms for buyers to receive their purchases – not just locally owned mom and pop stores. While not an ideal situation in an uncertain world, these adjustments helped to keep the doors open for retail – small and large – assuring investors that these particular sectors of commercial real estate were still very active and growing.

 

 

Multi-Family Residential:

The start of the pandemic saw college students, new graduates, young families and more moving back home with their parents or to other shared living situations with friends and family. The uncertainty of the economy produced a boom of residential real estate listings, however with states now opening back up, markets are seeing a resurgence of individuals and families needing temporary and/or more budget-savvy living options such as apartment and condo rentals. Multi-family commercial real estate has witnessed the greatest increase of growth and will continue to do so as more states, universities and places of employment begin to open back up to pre-pandemic standards.

 

 

What to Do Now

Always weigh the pros and cons to any investment situation as well as play out each scenario – especially if you are a first time commercial real estate investor – however, striking while the iron is hot will be key to maximizing your investment and cash flow early on. With unique opportunities on the rise across all branches of commercial real estate, investors will be able to build a path that suits their goals. Lending experts – such as our team at Commercial Capital BIDCO – can assist you with the funding you need that the banks simply cannot do. We are proud of our in-house credit team as well as our in-house credit committee that both allow us to process loans quickly and easily. What are you waiting for? We’re ready to talk investment goals when you are!

 


ACS' Chief Operating Officer Finds Gold

Alternative Capital Solutions Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Jeff Luker, took home the gold medal at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Grappling Games in Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend. Jeff has served in the Commercial Lending industry for 6 years and has excelled in his practice of BJJ since 2017 - currently holding a 4-stripe blue belt.  

Jeff exemplifies hard work and strong leadership inside and outside the office – on and off the mat. We are proud of Jeff and all that he has achieved professionally as well as personally and his discipline is echoed throughout both. 

As Master Carlos Gracie, Jr., legendary practitioner and professor of BJJ, has stated:

“Discipline and consistency. I owe these two factors to all I have attained in life. Things have never happened overnight. Results have appeared as consequence of decades long toil. It is necessary to persist.” 

Discipline and consistency are key no matter where you are in life or whatever your goals may be. Let’s make these values part of our mantra for 2021. 


Terry Luker featured in Deal Maker Magazine

Luker Masters ‘Three-Headed Monster’ of Diversification at ACS.

Industry Icon Terry Luker shares the secret to his success with ACS — Alternative Capital Solutions: find your niche, form strong partnerships and fill voids in the market. By taking a three-pronged approach, Luker strengthens his community bank relationships and ensures every deal that comes across his desk finds its home.

Terry Luker had been in the automotive industry for 21 years and was looking for a change. “I was a fixer. I’d go into broken stores and fix them,” he says. “And then about three years in, the owner would want to change pay plans… that’s when I would normally leave. The last time we did that, I decided that I was going to go do something different.”

ACS — Alternative Capital Solutions Is Born

A friend told Luker about shadow banking and a company called Commercial Capital Training Group. Luker recalls the conversation he had with his friend: “He said, ‘Terry, you’re an unbelievable deal maker. This is what you ought to do for a living.’” Soon, Luker met the Commercial Capital Training Group team and enrolled in the program.

During his training at CCTG, Luker learned how important it is to find your niche if you want to be successful. When he launched Alternative Capital Solutions seven years ago, he was determined to find a specialty that would set the company apart for the long haul.

Read more here … https://www.dealmaker-magazine.com


PPP Loan Forgiveness

Clients of Alternative Capital Solutions,

The PPP loan forgiveness program is just about ready to begin. Our bank partner, First Freedom Bank has directed us to begin accepting applications and working on the forgiveness documentation for our clients. The forgiveness requests can begin on the 10th of August and we would like to get all of your documentation completed and ready to submit by that day.

There are two separate programs that must be used, a long form which is SBA Form 3508 and the short form which is SBA Form 3508EZ. The 3508EZ is obviously the less intrusive form and we hope that most of our clients will qualify to use this form. Either way we will be assisting you in completing your forgiveness request.

Both SBA Forms are attached as well as a needs list from First Freedom Bank.

To qualify for the EZ Form you must be able to answer “yes” to one of the three questions that are on the information sheet contained in the SBA Form 3508EZ. Here is a simple breakdown of the questions to be considered:

  1. The borrower is a self-employed individual, independent contractor, or sole proprietor who had no employees at the time of the PPP loan application.
  2. The borrower did not reduce annual salary or hourly wages of any employee by more than 25% during the covered period or the alternative payroll covered period when compared to the period January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020. You also cannot have reduced the number of employees.
  3. This will be the same as number 2 but instead of not reducing the number employees it is that you could not operate as usual due to the Covid restrictions.

Please read through the attachments. The credit analyst that processed your PPP loan will be your point of contact here at ACS and will assist you in determining if you need the EZ Form or if you have to complete the long form. Please be aware that the final decision on which form you must use can be overridden by the SBA and will be out of our control. In some cases, we will not know this information until after we have submitted for forgiveness, if the SBA through First Freedom Bank, rejects the short EZ form and requires your firm to complete the long form.

We look forward to getting your  pplications completed, submitted and your loans forgiven.

Thank you for choosing ACS to partner with for your financial needs during this time. Please remember that we are a full-service solutions provider and through a sister company, do on occasion loan our own funds when warranted and necessary.

Application Form
(Full) Form 3508 Forgiveness Application
(EZ) Form 3508 Forgiveness Application

Application Instructions
(Full) Form 3508 Forgiveness Instructions
(EZ) Form 3508 Forgiveness Instructions

Application Checklist
(Full) Form 3508 Forgiveness Checklist
(EZ) Form 3508 Forgiveness Checklist 

Terry Luker
Chairman/CEO


A letter from our Founder Terry Luker​

As our country emerges from this catastrophic event called “coronavirus” what does the environment to obtain capital look like.  We are hearing all kinds of “New Policy” conversations from banks and from private lenders.  I have been told by several banks that they have a moratorium on any new commercial loans for at least 90 days.  We have seen first-hand banks decide not to close a loan that was ready to close and previously cleared to close.

Certainly, we are now living in a new environment.  Our largest go to lender in the SBA 7a program who specialized in new business startup financing has decided to not fund any new startup businesses for the next 12 months and focus all their energy on refinancing existing commercial loans.  This will be a devasting event for prospective new businesses.  They will now be forced to delay starting the business or go the private funding route that will cost them higher fees and interest as well as potential costing them a part of their new company.

So why would a very successful 7a lender that focused on new business startups change course?  Simple.  They know that most banks in the United States are about to go to a strict tightening of their lending policies.  These banks are going to sit on their hands and wait and see how the country recovers from this before lending any funds to refinance commercial properties and certainly they are going to run away from new business startups – usually the highest risk of any commercial loan.

So, you can see why a lender that normally specializes in the SBA’s 7a new business lending would change course.  They believe the opportunities to refinance existing businesses is going to soar as those business owners struggle to get their current bank or any bank in their community to lend money prior to seeing how all of this shakes out.  Credit worthiness will not matter.  The fact that the business owner has been with their bank for years, will not matter.  Want proof?  Look at the PPP loan program.  How many small business owners struggled to get their bank to help them with their loan?

I can tell you here at ACS, we have processed and been able to secure funding for over 320 business owners.  Most of these clients came to us because either their bank did not want to process the PPP loans and they sent the customers to us or the business owner could not get their current bank to work with them and get them the PPP loan. 

Several banks in our area refused to fund the entire lending amount that the business owner was entitled to.  Instead, the banks chose to fund only 75-80% of the loan entitlement amount so that when the forgiveness period comes around, they would not have anything left on the loan balance.  Talk about kicking us when we are down….and here is the best part.  Those banks chose not to tell their clients they were holding back funding until after the bank secured an SBA number – so they client couldn’t go anywhere else to get the loan.  One SBA number per business owner.

Just to be clear, I am not blaming the banks that did that.  There were no clear instructions on how the remaining balances would be treated by the FED and what the costs were going to be.  With the loans only carrying an interest rate of 1%, and the banks having to borrow the funds from the Home Loan Banks at .35%, there is simply not enough margin for those banks to carry those loans.

Never forget that banks are in business to make a profit.  So, you can understand when they are nervous or really unsure of the direction of the economy, they natural instinct is to pull back.  Unfortunately, that is exactly when business owners need more access to capital and not less.

So, what is a business owner going to do.  Well one thing is the business owner better have a great supporting cast around them.  Who is looking at cash flows and future earnings?  Who is looking at staffing and making sure the company is right sized between income, personnel and current debt?  We have companies that we have been helping navigate the entrepreneurial waters for years. 

As a business owner, you need quality people around you that can listen to your thoughts and your ideas but who are not afraid to not recommend something or at least say “why don’t we give this a few months to marinate.”  We have a business coach of our own who has been working with us for four years now.  He still brings out notes that he took when he first started meeting with us.  He is an important asset to our team.

The bottom line……getting access to money is going to get a lot tougher and business owners are going to need sources who know he might still be lending out there.  The access to capital is about to be a business owners’ number one focus in these trying times we are facing.  Find some sources that can get you access to capital and then hold on to them.

Lastly, during the funding of those 320 PPP loans, we had a business owner that was about to miss his payroll.  His PPP funds were coming but were going to miss his payroll by 2 days.  We believe in this business owner and enjoyed working with him, so we made the decision as a company to loan him the funds he needed to cover his payroll at no cost to him.  He covered his payroll and sent us our money back the day his PPP funds hit his account.  Always remember that relationships matter.

Terry Luker