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How to get a mortgage for your commercial building

SMEs: How to get mortgage financing for a commercial building

Because it isn’t always straightforward for small businesses to obtain mortgage financing, private lenders offer several solutions that can help finance their purchase of a commercial building.

An SME may prefer to own its work premises to avoid being subject to another owner, burdensome lease conditions or the possibility of the lease not being renewed. Also, by owning its own building, the business will own all the leasehold improvements it invests in. And let’s face it, being a master of your own destiny is one of the main incentives for becoming an entrepreneur! However, unless the SME has access to significant liquidity, an entrepreneur who wants to set up a commercial building will have to obtain mortgage financing.

Commercial mortgage loans differ greatly from those offered to individuals for a residential property. Businesses wanting to own and occupy a building may face several obstacles when applying for a conventional loan from a large bank or credit union.

The disadvantages of getting a commercial mortgage from a conventional bank

Harder to access and less advantageous than a residential mortgage

Quebec’s major banks and Desjardins are large organizations that hold considerable power. In real terms, this means they often set the rules of the game. Companies must therefore expect to pay higher interest rates than residential loans and accept loan terms that are constrictive and sometimes even harmful to their growth. For instance, the renewal of a commercial mortgage loan may be conditional upon the business submitting audited financial statements and obtaining positive financial results.

Financial institutions often turn their backs on whole industries and young SMEs

When large financial institutions decide it’s beneficial to avoid certain industries, there is nothing that forces them to do business with companies from those industries. For that reason, entrepreneurs in some sectors, particularly cannabis cultivation and foodservice, face a lot of refusals from banks when trying to get financing for a building.

Very young SMEs and start-ups also often find that traditional lenders are not interested in them because their revenue history is too recent or because of insufficient profitability.

Banks show little flexibility about businesses’ needs and develop restrictive criteria

Things get even more complicated when, for tax or other purposes, the company’s operational division is separate from the one owning the commercial building (company and main brand on the one hand and a Quebec incorporated company on the other).

In short, major financial institutions have the upper hand, and there isn’t enough competition between them to incite them to create an appropriate offering for all businesses. They are even less motivated to offer services that are adapted to the specifics of each entrepreneurial project and its fiscal structure. 

The benefits of commercial mortgage financing from a private lender

Because private mortgage lenders are not burdened by heavy bureaucracy and face greater competition, they are more flexible and more willing to work with the entrepreneurs cast aside by the big banks.

What follows are the main advantages of getting private mortgage financing to buy a commercial property.

Solvency requirements are less strict with a private lender 

It can happen that your company is going to get a no on mortgage financing before you even set foot in the banking adviser’s office. And in fact, that advisor often has little control over whether or not your request will be accepted. If, for some reason, your application doesn’t match the financial institution’s computerized analysis grid, the likelihood that an employee at your branch can do anything about it is very slim.

When private lenders receive a request for a loan to purchase a commercial building, they look at the real value of the building that will be mortgaged. Yes, solvency is still a significant criterion, but this type of financing considers a multitude of factors, which are often more relevant and tangible than those of the big banks.

Unlike traditional lenders, a private mortgage lender will take time to carefully and thoughtfully analyze all the risk factors in a project to estimate its real potential for success.

A lender-borrower relationship based on concrete factors

Like you, the private lender is an entrepreneur and an investor. The private lender’s mission is mainly to recognize projects that have potential so they can contribute financially to them.

Like you, the private lender is a risk-taker. They’re not there just to do data entry, fill out forms and demand endless documents. In a way, the relationship between a private lender and a borrower is akin to one of the business partners.

Just like you, the private lender knows time is money. It has nothing to gain in making you wait as the larger banks will often do. The private lender’s analysis is comprehensive, efficient and diligent.

Flexible terms and conditions for a win-win mortgage solution

Let’s face it: the financial statements of a major bank or Desjardins won’t be impacted if your entrepreneurial project fails. But the private lender, on the other hand, only does business with a limited number of borrowers, so it has every interest in your company achieving its goals by purchasing a commercial building.

This is why getting mortgage financing from a private investor can offer terms for the payment of the interest and the repayment of capital that are adapted to your company’s needs and situation.


Despite their many shortcomings, institutional lenders can still meet the needs of some companies. But if your business falls outside the box, or if you’re looking for commercial mortgage financing custom-designed and based on tangible aspects, then a private lender will generally offer more interesting solutions.

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