International Loans

International commercial real estate loans almost never close. I have been in commercial real estate finance now for more than 33 years. During that time I have never seen an international commercial real estate loan ever close!

Every day I run across developers seeking commercial construction loans in Mexico, Poland, or in some other far-off locale. To the best of my knowledge, none of them ever get funded by American lenders.

The problem with international commercial real estate loans is one of taxation. No country in the world wants some huge, foreign bank to come inside its borders and steal all of the good banking business away from that country's banks.

If a Chinese bank, based in Hong Kong, were to make a big loan here in the United States, the US government would levy a foreign lender tax of 30% (THIRTY PERCENT) of it's interest income! Most countries do the same to any foreign banks trying to lend in their own country.

The way this problem is solved is that the Chinese bank starts a subsidiary bank here in the US, and the subsidiary makes loans in the US. So if you are seeking a loan in Mexico, go to a Mexican bank or the Mexican subsidiary of a foreign bank. You would NOT approach a bank in the U.S. to make a loan in Mexico. Go local. It's generally the right way to go.

But now I have a confession to make. I actually do know of an international commercial real estate loan that closed. A hard money lender on at the time made a $3 million loan on a $20 million free-and-clear golf course and residential subdivision in Mexico. The loan was guaranteed by three pro atheletes, with a combined net worth in the range of $100 million. The hard money lender charged 15% and 15 points for an 18 month interest-only loan. I know the deal closed because actually got paid on it.

So how did this hard money lender get around the huge taxation issue? Shhhh. They didn't tell anybody they were making the loan.

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