Empirical offers borrowers first mortgages on land only, including infill sites, Brownfields with Record of Site Conditions, and mid- to low-rise construction projects. Loan amounts range from a minimum of $2,000,000 to a maximum of $50,000,000 and terms ranging from 12 to 24 months. Empirical concentrates on the Greater Toronto Area and vicinity, including The Golden Horseshoe, north to Barrie, and east to Oshawa and Whitby.
Empirical brings an investor’s perspective to all loan funding decisions by applying a realistic range of outcomes to critical inputs related to zoning and approval, valuation, and borrower capability. Empirical sources lending opportunities that are designed to provide investors with security of capital and a stable, fixed return. Each loan is adequately covered by the value of the primary and collateral security provided.
Empirical’s investment criteria is as follows:
- First mortgages or B tranches of first mortgages, interim, and bridge financing for commercial and residential real estate developments.
- To be negotiated on a case by case basis. All renewals will be subject to updates to existing underwriting criteria used for original recommendation.
- Single-purpose buildings, single-tenant buildings, industrial uses, places of worship, recreational properties, and hotels/motels.
Types of Security
- First mortgages on land only, including infill sites, Brownfields with Record of Site Conditions, and mid- to low-rise construction projects. All mortgages to be accompanied by personal guarantees or, if a public company, corporate guarantees may be acceptable subject to balance sheet verification.
- Will not subordinate to construction financing.
- Will not permit subsequent financing behind an Empirical mortgage without consent and a limited forbearance period.
- Minimum $2MM; Maximum $50MM.
- Pari Passu or Tranched
- Pari Passu 8% and greater.
- Tranched: 10% and greater.
Expected Gross Yield
- 8.5% - 12%+, interest only, payable monthly.
Fees charged to Investors
- An Administration Fee of 50 basis points per annum (+HST) of the Investor’s share of the mortgage principal. All other fees are paid by the Borrower. There are no performance-based fees or upfront costs.
Typical Mortgage Term
- 12 to 24 months. Closed for the initial 6 months and open thereafter on payment of one month’s interest as a bonus.
Lending Criteria & Strategy
- GTA and surrounding areas such as:
- 100KM west (Golden Horseshoe)
- 40KM north to Barrie
- 40KM east to Oshawa and Whitby
- Exit strategy for all loans to be clearly identified and verified where possible.
- Market must be active to ensure availability of exit strategy should realization on security be necessary.
- Borrower or developer team must possess expertise in managing and completing the projects being financed.
- Pro Forma: showing not only project profit based on single data points, but feasible when applying a sensitivity analysis.
- Semi-annual reports are provided to investors to update on the development status, and material developments pertinent to the mortgage portfolio on a prioritized and exception basis.
- Borrower must have significant equity demonstrated by way of cash or “value added” (e.g. rezoning, time asset held, etc.)
- Provide acceptable and substantiated covenants and guarantees
- Demonstrate experience and expertise in development of similar projects including the use of a team of capable professionals for guidance.
- Demonstrate a financial ability (either individually or in concert with passive equity partners) to carry and complete the development of the contemplated project.
Each Empirical loan undergoes a stringent and extensive underwriting and due diligence process. This includes:
- The review of all significant agreements/contracts (agreements of purchase and sale, material leases, zoning reports/approvals, tax clearances, environmental and geotechnical studies, budgets, etc.)
- In-depth credit analysis including verification of major assets included in personal net worth statements or statutory declaration where possible.
- Review of industry fundamentals (competition, trends, margins)
- Planning Reports: Official Plan approved (or likely to be approved) in-fill, zoned or to be rezoned, must be compatible with similar projects in the area, must be compatible with municipal policies regarding density and intensification.
- Security: in a tranched structure the Subordinate Lender must be able to pay out the A Lender if necessary.
- Valuation: A variety of methods will be employed and not just the reliance on appraisals as an indicator of Loan-to-Value (i.e. engage third-party developer or local realtor, second opinion of value from an appraiser, comparable sales, residual land value analysis, etc.). A sensitivity analysis will also be included to test a range of end-product pricing assumptions to show minimum values necessary to achieve a breakeven scenario to cover the loan.
- Peer reviews by well respected independent consultants of key third party reports provided by the Borrower (e.g. environmental, project proformas, appraisals, etc.)
- Site visits and face to face meetings with all borrowers and guarantors