How to do it... Finance

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Leaving enough time in the planning and administration process is critical, says Brian Beckwith, senior managing director of GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.

“You never want somebody who hasn't put enough time in the schedule for a lender to become comfortable with any issues that may exist,” Beckwith says. “Give enough time to get the deal done.”

Even if you don't have a perfect “report card” to show off, so to speak, ensure what you do have is clean.

“Make sure you have your financials straight,” Beckwith emphasizes. “There's a tremendous amount of confidence that can come from a well-organized and well-presented financial report. Poorly organized and poorly presented does exactly the opposite.”

Similarly, not only be  aware of any problems you might have had, but also point them out to any would-be lender, capital providers say.

“Lenders don't like surprises. Be forthcoming with any negative information,” advises Tim Sanders, managing director at Capital Funding LLC. “It will come out during the due diligence process [anyway] and is better received from the borrower.”

Remember that details are important. That includes providing detailed financial projections, Sanders says.
“The strength of the deal is based on the future, not the past,” he explains. “So the pro formas should have well-thought-out assumptions.”

Also, be flexible, he adds: “The deal may require personal guarantees, more equity or additional collateral. Flexibility and creativity are necessary for tougher deals.”

Steve Gilleland, senior director of real estate for  CapitalSource is among the many lenders who need to see tangible evidence of quality performance.

“Your actions speak louder than words. Show me a good, solid track record after a ‘hiccup,'” Gilleland says. “There's no way around it. Talk is cheap.”

Play to your local strengths and, again, think creatively, several vice presidents from Lancaster Pollard recommend.

“Identify active community banks, and work to find out what entities in the area might be able to provide permanent financing to take out construction debt,” says the company's Quintin Harris. “You might be surprised that a local water finance authority, for example, could take out certain types of construction or acquisition debt.”

Adds colleague Steve Kennedy: “Look to financing sources that see your community involvement and that evaluate your credit profile in the context of who you are and what your business means to the community, rather than comparing you to providers nationwide.”

When not dealing from the strongest of positions, it always pays to explore a lot of options, experts recommend. Consider debt issuance—both taxable and tax-exempt; bank loans (as a bridge to HUD financing, for example); sale-leaseback deals; and private or public equity, suggests Laca Wong Hammond, vice president at Shattuck Hammond.

Sometimes, looking off the beaten path really is the way to go, notes Jeff Binder, managing director, Senior Living Investment Brokerage Inc.

“From a broker's perspective, I would suggest investigating other less obvious sources, such as SBA and USDA programs,” he says. “For instance, in October, the SBA increased the cap on loans that it will guarantee for their 7(a) and 504 programs from $2 million to $5 million. These are the programs most applicable to senior housing owner/operators seeking to acquire or refinance a facility. The USDA program can provide a higher level of capital, but it is limited to rural areas—generally cities with less than 50,000 residents. The more options a borrower has, the better.”

Mistakes to avoid

* Trying to hide or “couch” negative circumstances from a potential lending partner

* Limiting your search options. Think creatively

* Not presenting whatever you can offer with great polish

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