GREAT COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DEBT ASSET MANAGEMENT STARTS WITH GREAT SERVICING
GREAT COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DEBT ASSET MANAGEMENT STARTS WITH GREAT SERVICING – The most successful organizations focus on maximizing their core competencies and getting others to do the rest. A successful debt asset manager’s core competencies are:
- Creating and executing strategies to maximize returns on assets
- Managing the risk inherent with the asset and with the borrower
- Maintaining good customer relationships to drive repeat business
Successful Debt Asset Managers focus on their core competencies and partner with good Loan Servicers to handle the details to maximize the yield on debt investments.
How the Loan Servicer handles the time-consuming details to help the Asset Manager:
Loan Setup – The Servicer abstracts the often-complex loan terms from the loan documents into a robust loan servicing system in order to account properly for all of the details that make up the yield on an investment. Missing any fees or enforcement of covenants can significantly reduce yield for the lender.
Billing – The Servicer creates detailed billing statements. A properly constructed billing statement includes information on additional fees due and is a constant reminder to the borrower to make payments promptly. If using email and online systems to deliver the billing statements, a lender can also embed marketing information into the billing statements. Proper, professional billing helps build a lender’s brand.
Collections – The Servicer is the first line of defense in promptly collecting payments and making the Asset Manager aware of collection issues. It is essential to actively collect loan payments when due. As soon as the payment is delinquent, it is important to assess late fees (you can always waive them later) and reach out to the borrower. Staying top-of-mind may get the lender paid before other vendors. Delaying collections can lead to greater problems and customer dissatisfaction.
Cash Reconciliation – A Servicer reconciles collections daily. It is important to maintain strong controls on cash and accounting especially if a lender experiences legal problems with the borrower and must prove accounting in court.
Tax Monitoring – A good Servicer tracks the payment of real estate taxes when due. Good servicing requires follow-up to determine if taxes are paid and prevents tax liens. Often Asset Managers do not have the time to focus on this item consistently.
Insurance Monitoring and Analysis – An uninsured casualty is among the biggest risks facing a lender. A good Servicer monitors a borrower’s compliance with the terms of the loan agreements and lender requirements.
Real Estate Analysis – A Servicer can be the first step in collecting and analyzing the operation of a property underlying a loan. The Servicer sends collection communications to the borrower based on the loan covenants and lender’s needs. A Servicer “spreads” operating statements and rent rolls to maintain historical data and provide data for the Asset Manager’s more sophisticated analysis. The Servicer can also conduct property inspections to uncover any wasting or life-safety issues on the property.
Reporting – Asset Management and Servicing generates huge amounts of data. Data is useful if organized and presented in a timely manner and on demand. A good Servicer has systems to provide data for the Asset Manager to use in preparing reports for lenders and fund managers.
SUMMARY – To maximize yields, Asset Managers need to do what they do best – Execute strategies, Manage Risk and Maintain Good Customer Relationship – These are an Asset Manager’s Core Competencies. A good Servicer helps an Asset Manager fulfill its important role by taking care of the smaller details in a consistent, organized and “always-on” manner. Outsourcing some Asset Management tasks to a professional servicer may provide returns that far exceed the investment.