When fast and reliable short-term financing is required, one of the valuable options for commercial real estate owners and developers to consider is the bridge loan.

The bridge loan is a form of financing that “bridges” the gap between funds needed now and when longer-term financing becomes available. It can be a key component in an owner’s long-term financing strategy, particularly for those faced with a here-and-now opportunity or other shorter-term situation such as improving or selling a property.

Real estate owners often use a bridge loan to purchase a second property before the sale of the first property closes. Then the proceeds from the sale are used to pay off the bridge loan. This illustrates the important “exit strategy” borrowers must have before an investor makes a bridge loan. In this example, the investor would need to see a signed sales agreement spelling out where, when, and how the bridge loan will be repaid.

Bridge financing almost always needs to be arranged and closed quickly. Such loans tend to be for 6 to 12 months with a possible 12-month extension. They are usually structured as simple interest only loans with no pre-payment penalty and all principal due in full at maturity. Risk to the investor is minimal since the loans are underwritten based on existing equity in the property and the exit strategy is defined.

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