Buch the Trend — A Commercial Real Estate Blog

EB-5: A Thing of the Past and a Warning for the Future

By Steve ‘Buch’ Buchwald – The Debt & Equity Finance Group

So far, this blog has covered Historic Tax Credits and PACE Financing. The next topic covered is yet another alternative financing option in the form of EB-5 Capital.

EB-5 has been deployed extensively over the past decade as foreign capital lined up to procure US visas for a cool $500,000. The program was meant to spur development and the associated job creation in the U.S. for a variety of projects, but instead has led to aggravation for many developers and the EB-5 investors themselves. It is now very challenging to raise a substantial amount of EB-5 capital due to the complex challenges it has caused on both sides of the transaction.

For developers, EB-5 capital looked to be a cheap alternative to traditional mezz capital, similar to the PACE financing mentioned in the previous article. Interest rates, however, are only one part of the picture to consider when obtaining financing. Very often, our clients are focused on rate and points because economics are easily comparable between two different offers. However, funding structure, prepayment flexibility, security interests, covenants, stipulations and other terms are really what differentiate financing offers.

For example, if I lend you $20 million dollars at 6% with a 12% lookback IRR and someone else lends you $15 million dollar today at 8% and $5 million more in a year at 10%, which deal is better? The first transaction gives you more funds up front at a seemingly cheap rate but with a massive exit penalty. The second deal gives you less proceeds day one but blends to a cheaper rate despite the seemingly higher interest rate. A expert mortgage broker will model these scenarios solving for the lender IRR and advise the borrower know which deal is effectively cheaper.

Now let’s add a third alternative: I now say I can give you $20 million at 5%, but you cannot repay me at all for five years. This appears to be the cheapest of the structures mentioned and this was exactly the bait that many developers took in accepting EB-5 proceeds. This lockout however creates intractable problems:

  • What if, in year 3, of the term you want to or, worse, need to recapitalize the transaction to buy out a partner or provide more funding because you are overbudget?
  • What if you receive an unsolicited sale offer that you’d be a fool to refuse?

At that point, that 1% lower rate isn’t saving you anything, but instead costing you more than you could ever imagine. In the case where you couldn’t recapitalize the transaction, you may have lost all of your equity. In the sale scenario, you lost out on ideal timing to sell the property and make a massive profit. The 1% didn’t move the needle on returns but the structure that goes with the transaction can be a deal killer.

In addition to the 5 year lockout, EB-5 money has a variety of other problematic terms. It is an immovable piece of the capital stack. You cannot add a dollar of financing proceeds in senior to it or add additional capital that would prime it in any scenario. Because it typically comes in the form of subordinate debt (either mezzanine, preferred equity or the dreaded second mortgage), there is usually a senior loan in front of it that needs to be refinanced with the EB-5 still outstanding. This refinancing requires approval from the EB-5 provider in their sole and absolute discretion. These structural issues have made recapitalizing EB-5 deals nearly impossible, depressing deal returns due to its inflexibility. Forgoing the savings that refinancing a completed or stabilized property with cheaper capital can bring is yet another losing proposition.

For investors, EB-5 is possibly even worse. Promised a visa in a fast time frame, many EB-5 investors are still waiting. A Chinese national applying today for a U.S. immigrant investor visa may not be able to obtain one one until at least 2035. While the wait time is reduced for other countries like South Korea or Brazil, most of the EB-5 investment came from China resulting in a two-way catastrophe.

The challenges of EB-5 capital as a viable source of funding should serve as a huge warning to developers of the future in utilizing new alternative forms of financing. The economics of the capital deployed are not always worth the impact of its other terms. Cheap capital that cannot be easily refinanced, has non-traditional security, an abundance of rights and remedies, or otherwise prevents developer optionality and flexibility should be highly scrutinized and viewed with skepticism and caution.

A fully occupied, NNN leased freestanding retail building – currently occupied by franchised fitness chain Crunch Fitness in Tuscaloosa – will sell at auction.

By Stephanie Rebman – Managing Editor, Birmingham Business Journal

Jul 11, 2019

A fully occupied freestanding retail building is hitting the auction block in Tuscaloosa.

The building currently occupied by Crunch Fitness at 3325 McFarland Blvd. E will be up for auction on the RealINSIGHT Marketplace platform July 29-31 via New York City-based Mission Capital Advisors. A CMBS Special Servicer is the seller.

The one-story 42,274-square-foot building was built in 2013 for outdoor retailer Gander Mountain. Crunch, which took occupancy in October 2018, signed a 15-year lease at the 4-acre site.

“The property has excellent frontage in a highly trafficked area of Tuscaloosa, near several main transportation routes and near the University of Alabama,” said Kyle Kaminski, a director with Mission Capital. “Further, Crunch has performed very well in the space since opening and greater market conditions point toward the brand’s continued growth. With the substantial increase in enrollment at the university, and the recent Mercedes Benz expansion, this is a tremendous market to currently be in.”

Legacy Small Balance Commercial Real Estate Loan Portfolios

David Tobin, Principal, chats about legacy small balance commercial real estate loan portfolios in this new video.

Legacy portfolios, which is to say portfolios of loans originated pre-financial crisis, are trading at extraordinary prices relative to intrinsic value. The reason for this is higher than market coupons, long payment history and solid economic fundamentals combined with intense market liquidity from bank and non-bank sources. The opportunity to exit these portfolios in as little as 45 to 60 days exists in the marketplace. And it’s a good sound judgment call to exit portfolios of loans which are above market but which have not prepaid in this highly liquid market post-financial crisis. We expect that these portfolios will exhibit elevated levels of default as well as elevated losses compared to their post-financial crisis-originated counterparts. Banks would do well to liquidate small-balance commercial real estate loan portfolios at peak market pricing today and redeploy those proceeds into other alternative lending opportunities.


William David Tobin is one of two founders of Mission Capital and a founder of EquityMultiple, an on-line loan and real estate equity syndication platform seed funded by Mission Capital. He has extensive transactional experience in loan sale advisory, real estate investment sales and commercial real estate debt and equity raising. In addition, Mr. Tobin is Chief Compliance Officer for Mission Capital.

Under Mr. Tobin’s guidance and supervision, Mission has been awarded and continues to execute prime contractor FDIC contracts for Whole Loan Internet Marketing & Support (loan sales), Structured Sales (loan sales) and Financial Advisory Valuation Services (failing bank and loss share loan portfolio valuation), Federal Reserve Bank of New York (loan sales), Freddie Mac (programmatic bulk loan sales for FHFA mandated deleveraging), multiple ongoing Federal Home Loan Bank valuation contracts and advisory assignments with the National Credit Union Administration.


From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Tobin worked as an asset manager in the Asset Resolution Department of Dime Bancorp (under OTS supervision) where he played an integral role in the liquidation of the $1.2 billion non-performing single-family loan and REO portfolio. The Dime disposition program included a multi-year asset-by-asset sellout culminating in a $300 million bulk offering to many of the major portfolio investors in the whole loan investment arena. From 1994 to 2002, Mr. Tobin was associated with a national brokerage firm, where he started and ran a loan sale advisory business, heading all business execution and development.

Mr. Tobin has a B.A. in English Literature from Syracuse University and attended the MBA program, concentrating in banking and finance, at NYU’s Stern School of Business. He has lectured on the topics of whole loan valuation and mortgage trading at New York University’s Real Estate School. Mr. Tobin is a member of the board of directors of H Bancorp (www.h-bancorp.com), a $1.5 billion multi-bank holding company that acquires and operates community banks throughout the United States. Mr. Tobin is a member of the Real Estate Advisory Board of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University and a board member of A&M Sports / Clean Hands for Haiti.

Mission Capital Arranges $15.2M Loan for Brooklyn Redevelopment Project

The Box Factory is a redevelopment project in Brooklyn that will convert a former industrial building into an office and entertainment complex.

NEW YORK CITY — Mission Capital Advisors has arranged a $15.2 million loan for The Box Factory, a former industrial building in Brooklyn that is being redeveloped into a 65,837-square-foot office and entertainment complex. Proceeds will be used to refinance construction debt and further redevelop the property. Jonathan More, Ari Hirt and Lexington Henn of Mission Capital arranged the financing on behalf of the project development team, which is led by Brickman Real Estate and Hornig Capital Partners. Construction began in 2018. Pine River provided the loan.

To learn more, click here.