April 20, 2021

JF2422: Finding & Landing Real Estate Investors with Terry Painter

Passive real estate investing

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Terry is the author of the Wiley publication “The Encyclopedia of Commercial Real Estate Advice.” Since 1997, he has been the chairman of Apartment Loan Store and Business Loan Store, two mortgage banking companies specializing in commercial loans in all 50 states. He has worked as a top producer for Lasalle Bank and Lehman Brothers, and he is well-known for his excellent investment consultations and strategies. Terry has been speaking about commercial real estate investing and lending to commercial real estate investor groups and real estate experts worldwide for the past 18 years. In today’s episode, Terry will be going into details about the ways to find investors in real estate.

Terry Painter Real Estate Background:

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“Don’t talk about what-ifs. Talk about it from what you’ve either done in the past or what you plan to do.” – Terry Painter


Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Ash Patel and I’m here today with our guest, Terry Painter. Terry is joining us from Portland, Oregon. He is the president and founder of Apartment and Business Loan Store. He’s owned real estate investments for over 40 years. His portfolio currently consists of two rentals and he is seeking multifamily properties. Before we get started, Terry can tell us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on now?

Terry Painter: Yes, thank you for having me, by the way. Just so you know, most of my background comes as a mortgage banker and a commercial mortgage broker. Over the past 24 years, I have financed hundreds of commercial real estate deals. I still, to this day, can’t wait to get to work. I’ve been doing it for 24 years, and I get to look at a lot of deals, and that’s fun for me.

Ash Patel: What are some of the challenges with what you do now?

Terry Painter: Well, there are always challenges. Basically, when you’re working with investors, they have already fallen in love with whatever they’re going to do, and they are behind it. So you don’t really want to be the bearer of bad news. What makes it difficult is — we’ve been around a long time, so we get a lot of inquiries; I have a staff that for the most part takes care of those, but I still work on the phones once in a while and I’ll tell you, it’s just that they’re so excited and you just don’t really want to put their fire out.

So I’m very busy, but I’ll tell you, if somebody has a dynamite property, something really good, I will drop everything and work on their deal, because that’s how we get deals done. But it is challenging, because some people have no money, they have no experience, their credit isn’t good, and so on. And yet, maybe they’ve found a great property. Well, if they have the property, it’s really the key here.

Ash Patel: So let’s dive into that. When you said commercial real estate, does that mean multi-family as well as non-residential commercial?

Terry Painter: Correct. I would define commercial real estate as any property that is occupied by a business or it’s five units or more if it has residents. So that’s commercial. And it’s also zoned commercial.

Ash Patel: Okay. Again, a retail shopping center – same thing, you’ll do those loans?

Terry Painter: Yes. It’s the same thing.

Ash Patel: Okay. So let’s dive into that. If I find a great property and I want a loan from you, how do I get my ducks in order?

Terry Painter: Okay, that’s a very good question; that’s really what it’s all about. I sell money for a living – how good is that? That’s pretty cool. But on the other hand, if you’re going to expect somebody to finance 75% or even more of your investment, you better have your ducks in order. What that means is you have to actually have the actual financials of the properties. A lot of people go for financing too early and they have not actually seen the actual rent roll, the actual P&L statements on the property, and they really don’t even know the physical condition of the property.

So if you really want to get your foot in the door, like I mentioned earlier, if you find a property that has cashflow today, it’s got a great upside, maybe the rents are under market, and you also have the financials for that property, that really will make a difference.

Also, you want to have your personal financial statement prepared. It’s really important that if you don’t have much money or experience, that you have somebody join with you; bring in a mentor, somebody that can actually fit in those shoes and help you look really good. Keep in mind, you’ve found that property, and that’s key. It’s going to be your deal because of that alone.

Ash Patel: I’ve got so many questions based on just what you’ve said. Okay, so I find this great property; do I call you right away and give you a heads up and say, “Hey, I’ve got this. I’m working on getting all my documents to you.” Do you want that heads up or do you just want the whole packet at once?

Terry Painter: Actually, I would prefer the heads up. I would really like to get into a dialogue with this person. This is not something I would recommend doing just to get rich. You’ve got to really love real estate. You’ve got to love putting deals together. You’ve got to love sometimes faking it until you make it.

So I’d rather get to know the person a bit. I’ll tell you, people get in the door with me sometimes because [unintelligible [00:04:54].15] My book has over 500 real estate terms in it and it’s amazing that if you just start talking some of the lingo, like throwing a cap rate, cash on cash return, and so on, you’ll get the attention of real estate professionals and lenders… But also be prepared — have some excitement behind your presentation and be prepared to tell the lender why this property is going to be successful.

Ash Patel: So pitch the whole narrative, not just your book of documents. You’ve got to sell the story of why you want to do this, and essentially sell yourself as well.

Terry Painter: Exactly. Because, let’s just say you’re even just applying for a loan at a bank. In your bank, you know some of the people there. Maybe you have a business; a lot of my clients who invest in commercial real estate already own a business. So you might know somebody. But what you want to do is go in and get them excited about your deal. Because bank employees are underpaid and overworked; they have more deals to look at, more heartburn than they care about. So if you bring in something and get them excited, they’re going to enjoy their job more, and you’re also going to be selling your deal at the same time. That’s a great recipe.

Ash Patel: That is an epiphany, because when most people think of bankers, they probably think of the blue suit that is just heads down looking at numbers, and I didn’t know that this narrative was that important… But it makes sense. It keeps you fresh in their mind. Maybe it builds some of the excitement in their mind in helping you get this deal done. What types of creative things have you done for somebody who may not qualify on their own, but the deal isn’t just right? How can a lender actually help them secure the deal?

Terry Painter: Well, I’m going to give you an example of my favorite one, actually. In 2004 – this is a while ago – I got this call from a lady named Kelly Fabras; she was an LAPD officer in Los Angeles. She told me she had found this great property called River Walk Apartments in Wichita, Kansas, and that she was going to buy it. I always have two qualifying questions. How much money do you have, and what’s your experience? Because usually if people don’t have the money, you’re just not going to take the time to work with them. I had already asked her what the price was, and the price was $6.8 million. She said that she had about $160,000 and she owns one rental property. I said “I’m really sorry. But this is not the property for you. What you should do is find a fourplex or something you can afford and you have the experience to operate.”

She would not have any of that. She said, “No, this is the property that’s right for me.” She actually had taken this course called Maui Millionaires – it’s still around – where they taught her how to raise investors, and if you find the right property, you could do that. Well, that was something that I had, at that time, not had much experience doing. But she had so much enthusiasm – that’s what I’m talking about – and she was so crystal clear. She knew the numbers on the property, which impressed me.

I told her, “Okay. Well, you’re going to have to bring in some more people.” She brought in a very high-powered executive from Intel, some other investors… And my gosh, she got the price lowered and that was her first syndicated deal. It was way sophisticated; something that a newbie could not really do. But I’m going to tell you her secret. She did not frigging know that she couldn’t do it. Most of us think about “Oh, no. I can’t do that. That’s beyond me.” But she didn’t know that, so that’s how she got it done.

Break: [00:08:15][00:10:16]

Ash Patel: That is a great story and a great example of how the narrative really helps in getting this loan secured. One of the things that I often tell people is to get with a lender before you start looking, and establish a relationship. Would you prefer that people come to you and say, “Hey, listen. This is what I’m looking for. Here’s my personal balance sheet, here’s my goals,” and establish that relationship, so that when they do find the deal, that part is already done.

Terry Painter: I actually really stressed that in my book. I think it’s really important, because so many new investors and commercial property, or for that matter, residential investment property, do it backwards. What they do is they try to put the deal together, they tie up the listing brokers’ time, maybe their brokers’ time, and time of investors without actually knowing that they have a loan. If you really think about it, the most important thing in this transaction is having the money to close the deal. So actually knowing what you qualify for and being able to fill in the holes where you don’t qualify is really essential. So you absolutely do that right out of the gate.

Ash Patel: Okay. And part of the underwriting process — so I’ve got my balance sheet, I get as many of the numbers as I can on the property… What if a lot of those numbers are hypothetical? What if there’s a fair amount of vacancy in, let’s say, a shopping center? How do I convince you that these are the right numbers?

Terry Painter: Okay. Well, here’s the thing – in the lending world we don’t deal at all with potential hypothetical numbers, proformas. A lot of real estate professionals, especially in this market — with the exception of retail, hotel, and hospitality properties, all other properties — there’s just such a low inventory, that realtors are really pushing a lot of properties based upon their pro forma, not based on actual. So you’re just going to be wasting the lender’s time and your investors’ time if you do not get the property financials together. You really need to convince the listing broker, even prior to signing the purchase contract, to give you some of the financials. A lot of times they won’t do that.

What you really want to do is deal with actual numbers, we need to know what those are. Okay next, go ahead and put a proforma together; absolutely enhance those numbers based upon fact. Show that market rents are higher; this property is $150 a month less than the market, that’s a multifamily. All you have to do is spend 4000 per unit and you could bring it up to the level of where these other apartment buildings are, renting at these higher rents. Show them what you’re planning to do. Don’t talk about what-ifs, talk about it from what you’ve either done in the past or what you plan to do.

Ash Patel: What if you’re a newer investor with limited capital, but you find a deal that’s just over your reach? What can you do to help them, or what would you recommend that investor do to get the deal done?

Terry Painter: Well, there’s a lot of people that fit that category. Once again, I’m going to go back to what we started this conversation out with – if you have a really dynamite property, in other words, what you want to know, and you’ve got to be able to prove it, based on financials – the cash on cash return, the internal rate of return, how much money you need to put into the property, and how much is that property going to sell for in five years if you’re going to fix and flip it down the road. What you want to do is money returns speaks to investors; you’d be surprised. Make a list of absolutely everybody you know, some of the people who you don’t think have much money, they’re just sitting on some money and they want to diversify, and they’d love to invest some money with you. The key is really having a really great property and knowing it, and then you can bring in an investor or two to fill in that gap.

Ash Patel: Terry, earlier, you mentioned variable down payments. What determines if I get to put 20% down, or if I have to put 30, or even more percent down?

Terry Painter: Well, we’re talking about commercial property. Commercial property is a cash flow-based system. We’re talking about net operating income, which most people probably know what that is. It’s just gross rental income less expenses. Okay, so we look at that number, and then we’ll take a look at two other items – you take a look at what’s the interest rate going to be on that program, and what’s the amortization. From that, we could compute the debt service coverage ratio.

Let’s just say for multifamily properties today, we’re looking for an extra 25 cents for every dollar of a loan payment you’re going to be making. That’s a 1.25 debt service coverage ratio. So cash flow really [unintelligible [00:14:49].28] so often today because it’s so competitive and properties are overpriced, commercial properties, especially multifamily. In the lending world, we look at some of these properties that just don’t cash flow the loan that they want. It’s just not going to happen, and you’ve got to put more money down. It’s so important when you talk to a lender to really know that ahead of time. Find out what a lender’s top numbers are, what can they lend. If they go up to 75%, then find out what their debt service coverage ratio is. Then take a look at actual financials and see if you could cash-flow that property out of the gate.

Ash Patel: So you’ve seen a lot of deals, and you’ve mentioned that multifamily is overpriced. What asset class do you think is the most attractive right now from a return standpoint?

Terry Painter: Well, here’s the thing… If you go after multifamily in any category — some of my best clients cannot find A or B properties and they’re looking at C properties right now that are over 40 years old. They’re in good shape, but they’re priced almost as high as a B property. So what you’re really going to be looking for I would say on this market right now is actually a repositioning opportunity; that would probably be the best. Or a repurposing property would be even better. But it’s really hard to find properties. Repositioning is basically doing value-adds, using your ingenuity and your intelligence to actually find the value that the seller hasn’t cared to implement. So finding properties with value-adds is really number one, and number two is actually repurposing.

An example of that – with so many hotel properties right now that are just tanking… Let’s just say you find one in a college town, and an opportunity could be to –we’ve done this many times– actually repurpose that. Change the purpose of a property to student housing. You could have a lot of single occupancy rental units, which a lot of college students are looking for.

Ash Patel: That would be a high-risk investment. What would the terms look like on a deal like that?  Taking a hotel — there’s going to be some period of vacancy while you’re doing renovations. To me, that’s a pretty high-risk deal. How would you fund that?

Terry Painter: That is so important that you brought that up… Because we’ve really got to take a look at risk here [unintelligible [00:16:57].25] for the opportunity. There’s a lot of hotels out there that could be repurposed into apartment buildings, or student housing, or something like that. In order for this formula to work, you do have to find the property at a really good price. You’ve almost got to steal the property, and that’s not easy to do. But just like any business, if it’s not earning income, what is it worth? Let’s say you wanted to buy a tire shop, and they just haven’t been running at a profit. Well, you’re not going to pay much for that business. You’re only going to pay the depreciated value of the real estate or something. So it’s really important to get it for a good price, and then to mitigate the risk, you’re going to have to really know what it’s going to cost to renovate that property, change the use, and so on. You’re gonna have to get an actual construction bid and you’re going to have to know how long it’s going to take. So it’s best to get a bridge loan for a property like that.

Ash Patel: What would the buyer have to put down on a deal like that?

Terry Painter: We do a lot of bridge lending or temporary loans. So just bridge a gap between what you want to do today on a property that’s not bringing in the income that it needs to cash flow to loan payments, to when the property’s doing great and fully occupied. Our best programs actually take a look at what the property is going to be worth once it’s stabilized; that means that it’s occupied at market occupancy. And that’s going to be about 75% loan to value, but we might be able to loan you up to, for a really great property in a good location, up to 85%. Because we’re in a recession right now, 80%, I would say, of the total cost of the project. We’re talking about the purchase price, the closing costs, the renovations, payment reserve perhaps will be likely in there. We would lend you up to 80% of that amount, but it will be constrained by 75% of what the appraised value is in today’s market.

Ash Patel: Okay, that helps a lot. So I have my balance sheet, I have my relationship with you, I have my great story on the property that I’m about to purchase… What else will help me in getting this deal done with you, or with any lender?

Terry Painter: Actually, if you’re kind of a newbie, just bringing in a partner that actually has the experience. If you don’t show enough net worth and liquidity, enough cash, you want that person you’re bringing in as a partner to represent that as well. You also want to bring in a dynamite team of professionals. We’re talking about a commercial real estate attorney, we’re talking about a really solid property management company… Because this is a business. The reason that businesses fail is not that they don’t necessarily have a great business going on, it’s because they probably aren’t managed well. That’s the same thing for commercial real estate. So if you could bring in a management company that fits those shoes, then it’s going to really help sell the deal to a lender.

Ash Patel: That’s really helpful. So I would imagine having the whole team, the property management company, the contractor, you’ll be able to put together a great narrative for the lender.

Terry Painter: [unintelligible [00:20:00].10] a great executive summary. It could be three pages, but not much longer than that. The lender wants to take a look at the deal and you want to get them excited about it. You could use the same executive summary to get investors excited. If you’re going to be doing a syndicated transaction, you’ll have a private placement memorandum that will cover that. You can show that to a lender, too. Then they really know you’ve got your stuff together if you have a PPM.

Ash Patel: That’s a good way to think about that… Pretend you’re pitching investors that are putting their own money in, versus a banker that’s just lending the bank’s money. You’d have to be more convincing, convincing somebody to put out money of their own. That’s a great way to look at that.

Terry Painter: I just remembered that excitement sells, and also great numbers sell, too.

Ash Patel: Yeah. And again, an epiphany, because we don’t think about bankers as exciting people.

Terry Painter: No. We don’t.

Ash Patel: Great epiphany. Give me an example of a deal, Terry, that didn’t go so well, and why. Maybe a loan that didn’t get funded.

Terry Painter: Do you want me to bring up one where…

Ash Patel: Let’s do both.

Terry Painter: Okay. There was the chiropractor that took a course from one of my colleagues, Peter Harris, who wrote the book Commercial Real Estate Investing For Dummies. He and his partner had a seminar circuit, and I would be part of that. I would mostly give my spiel on commercial lending. Anyway, this guy – he just studied, he just did everything right to find a property that needed to be rehabbed in Oklahoma.  What happened is I did this bridge financing for him, and then he was out of state, so he unfortunately did not manage the property well. Somebody drove by it and said there was like an old mattress in the driveway, and there were dead leaves in the swimming pool, and so on. So what happened is that I was also working on a perm loan at the same time for him. He did a lot of the renovations and spent this money with our bridge loan, but then the property went the wrong way. Why? Because the guy was out of state, he didn’t drive by the property, he didn’t see that mattress in the driveway, he didn’t see the leaves rotting in the swimming pool, and the bicycles on the patios that were rusting, and so on… And what happened is that he didn’t realize that his investment was going down the toilet. He was still doing his chiropractor business mostly.

So the truth of it is that if you’re going to be a deal sponsor, you’ve got to be hands-on. This is your baby; you’ve got to think about it; it’s taking care of your baby, and the buck stops with you. This guy did everything right, except for being out of state. So he lost the property is the end of the story.

Ash Patel: Was that because he wasn’t able to make the payments to the lender?

Terry Painter: Ultimately, yes. But what happened is actually his bridge loan matured and we no longer had a perm loan for him.

Ash Patel: So it’s not set in stone.

Terry Painter: An 18-month bridge loan, he had plenty of time — this property had very little occupancy and needed a rehab, but he had plenty of time to get it all done and occupied. But just once he got the rehab done, he had poor management… So you’ve got to really have all your ducks in a row to be successful on something like that. He was such a great guy, and he poured his heart and soul into it. So it broke my heart. It’s like it was my failure as well.

Ash Patel: Terry, a lot of our Best Ever listeners have transitioned into becoming full-time real estate investors. When they do that, they no longer have a W-2 income, they don’t have a job. I see a lot of these people on forums, and they’re saying how do I get a loan if I don’t have income and I don’t have a job? How do you address that?

Terry Painter: Well, fortunately, our firm – we represent Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, CMBS; these are all securitized loan projects, HUD. We also have some private debt fund money. So income to a bank – that’s the most important thing. Bank examiners even, they want businesses and commercial properties to actually have two sources of income. Basically, what we would be doing is looking to get you a securitized loan. Those loans start at about a million dollars and go up from there. But that’s the key. Because we don’t look at personal income, we look at the income of the property and we look at your financial strength. There are plenty of loans out there that do not require tax returns, and for the most part, we have a lot of people in business who just don’t want to pay a lot of tax, so they don’t show much enough on tax returns to actually get a bank loan.

Ash Patel: Terry, if it’s a three, four, or $500,000 loan, what options does that individual have?

Terry Painter: In that case, their options are more limited. If it’s a loan of that size, what they are going to have to do is bring in a partner.

Ash Patel: That has an income.

Terry Painter: That has an income. Right.

Ash Patel: At what point does a high net worth or large balance sheet usurp the need for an income?

Terry Painter: Well, actually with a bank, it doesn’t. It’s quite shocking. We’re members of the Oregon Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association… And basically, it’s quite shocking, but we have clients that have actually tried to get a loan at a bank with millions of dollars in the bank. But their money was in the stock market, or let’s just say in treasury bonds, which don’t produce enough income. Two million dollars is not that much if you’re making less than 1%. So they can’t get a bank loan. So if the loan is only 300,000 or 400,000, they’re going to have to take out a private money loan. There’s soft or hard money these days, but it’s going to be probably at about 7% to 9%. So ouch; that’s what they’re going to qualify for.

Ash Patel: What’s the difference between soft money and hard money?

Terry Painter: In some ways they’re similar. Hard money really is, I would say, 10% and above. We’re talking about 10 to 12% on average, sometimes they go up to 14%. We’re not seeing such high rates with hard money lenders today, because there’s so much hard money out there. Soft money is actually, I would say, between 6% and 9.9%, somewhere in that range.

Ash Patel: So it’s just the rate.

Terry Painter: It’s really the rate, and also the points involved as well.

Ash Patel: So, Terry, you see these phenomenal deals every day for many, many years… Have you gotten the bug to go after some of these deals yourself?

Terry Painter: I do all the time. My passion is actually new construction. We’ve done many loans that have been 30 to 40 million dollars. We do a lot of the big stuff these days, although it didn’t start off that way. When I started out, if I got to 100,000, that was a big loan.

I love working with developers, and that’s where there’s a lot of opportunities there, but it’s a big learning curve. That’s where the opportunity is today, I would say especially in multifamily, where you can actually build a property for less than what you could buy it for. So when I see land, and so on — but the thing about it is that I’m an older guy. I don’t know if this is going to be on video or just on audio, but I’ve got to think about every moment in my life, and what I want to do with it. It’s really fun just to evaluate deals, but I do see deals all the time that I would love to participate in, and sometimes I do. Not if I’m making a loan out; then it’s a conflict of interest, so I cannot.

Ash Patel: Sure. I think what drives you is your passion for what you do. That gives you enough fulfillment on the real estate bug to satisfy that.

Terry Painter: Yeah, I love it. It hasn’t been easy. I’m on my third marriage, which I’m not proud of, and I finally learned to live a more balanced life that I used to. I’m the kind of person that couldn’t wait for the weekends to be over so I could go back to work. That’s not good when you have a family, you know…

Ash Patel: Terry, what’s your best investing advice ever? Whether it’s yourself or real estate this time.

Terry Painter: My very best advice is to really get to know the property and do not make a decision based upon having fallen head over heels for that property. You won’t believe how many times people do that. They go by looks; it’s like you’re dating, it’s the same thing. In my book, I give an analogy where one of my clients actually thought she was almost like online dating… It’s the same thing is looking at properties.

I’ve had clients that have overpaid for their properties. It’s not that they haven’t bought them in the right place and at the right time, but they just paid too much, and they have had to spend years to get the net operating income up to where it really made sense. The best action you could take is… Well, first of all, let me back up. Nobody buys a property to purposefully overpay for it. They only do it because they have an emotional attachment to that property. So you’re going to make some bad business decisions sometimes because of looks. So be careful.

Ash Patel: That is great advice. Terry, are you ready for the lightning round?

Terry Painter: Sure, go ahead. I’m not sure what it is, but…

Ash Patel: Let’s do it. First, a quick word from our partners.

Break: [00:28:10][00:28:47]

Ash Patel: Terry, what’s the best book you recently read?

Terry Painter: The best book is actually Passive Investing in Commercial Real Estate by James Kandasamy. What makes this book unusual is for those who want to invest in other people’s deals. Okay, well, what I love about this book, and I recommend it to some of my deal sponsors, is that you can reverse engineer it. It tells you exactly from an investor standpoint what are they looking for to protect themselves. This would be a great book for Joe Fairless to pitch to his clients, because if we reverse the advice in it, it tells you exactly what you need to accomplish and how you need to sell your deals to investors.

Ash Patel: Good to know. Terry, what’s the Best Ever way you like to give back?

Terry Painter: I’ll tell you what I love to do… And I don’t get too much opportunity, but I’ve done it a number of times, I’d like to do it more. I like to actually help new entrepreneurs in developing countries that have no opportunity. Currently, I have a home in the Dominican Republic, it’s my winter home. Somebody who’s working there, he’s Haitian. I said, “What’s your dream?” He said, “I would love to own my own store.” So my wife and I helped to invest in his store, and he’s now very successful today.

Ash Patel: That’s a great story.

Terry Painter: Now they have another store. So that’s what I’d love to do, is more of that. Help people actually get in business, that have dreams, in developing countries.

Ash Patel: Good for you. Terry, how can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you?

Terry Painter: Okay, well, if you want to learn just about everything on commercial real estate, I recently had a book published by Wiley. They published the dummies books called the Encyclopedia of Commercial Real Estate Advice. That book has all my web addresses, but you don’t have to buy the book. But otherwise, you could just google apartmentloanstore.com and you can reach me there. That’s my online business.

Ash Patel: Terry, thank you again for your time today. You’ve given us some great advice, sharing some of the inside tips on what lenders look for. I’ve certainly learned a lot and I had no idea that the narrative in having a team in place, but with the deal itself, was that important. Thank you for sharing all of your advice today and thank you for being on the show with our Best Ever listeners. Terry, have a great day.

Terry Painter: Thank you. It’s been fun.

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The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action. For more information, go to www.bestevershow.com.

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