What is a Commercial Mortgage?

A commercial mortgage is any loan secured on property which is not your residence. Buy to let mortgages are a special type of high volume commercial mortgage which is packaged for a volume market. But since almost every other kind of premises are different, each loan has to be assessed individually and priced according to the risk.

When are commercial mortgages used?

Commercial mortgages generally take over where business loans finish. Business loans up to £25,000 are unsecured, but for larger amounts lenders need security in order to reduce the risk to themselves. Because of the legal and administrative costs of taking security on commercial property it is considered uneconomic to borrow under £50,000 this way, and some lenders have a minimum of £75,000 or more.

What can be offered as security?

Generally lenders take the property you are buying as the only security for the loan, which is typically 70% of the value of the property, and ask for a cash deposit for the balance of the purchase price. If you don’t have the cash you can offer the lender additional security, which is typically other property which you have considerable equity in, but could be a charge over other assets such as an insurance policy or shares.

How long are commercial mortgages for?

Commercial mortgages are typically from 3 to 25 years. Shorter term finance is also available and this may be called a bridging loan or property development loan, which you may have from a few weeks up to 24 months.

Are all commercial mortgages variable rate?

No, but most are. Typically a rate will be quoted as X% over base or LIBOR, and this in residential terms would be called a tracker mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages are available and for amounts under £500,000, where the lender takes the rate risk themselves, they may be advantageous. But mortgages where the lender passes the risk on to the borrower by using a “Swap” contract are best avoided.

Why can’t I find a definite rate?

The rates charged for commercial mortgages and business loans are not pre-determined like personal loans usually are. In each and every case when an application is made for a commercial mortgage a lending manager looks at it carefully to assess the risk level in making the proposed loan. A great deal of information is required for this decision. The lending manager will vary the rate offered to take account of the riskiness of the loan. Larger loans with a low risk will get the best rates. Lenders usually have a risk profile that they work to, so if your loan falls outside their risk profile it will be refused.

How much can I borrow?

For owner occupied property you can find a 70-75% mortgage. If it is an investment then the amount you can borrow will be determined by the rental income generated by the investment, but will not exceed 65% of the purchase price. If you are buying a business which includes goodwill, stock etc then the amount available will be further reduced.