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Are you a real estate owner, mortgage banker or mortgage broker looking for long-term financing with flexible terms and reasonable rates? Did the collapse of the mortgage-backed securities marketplace and the sub-prime meltdown leave you with no options? Forget about calling 1-800-LENDER, or your high-rate multiple-fee financier or, for that matter, even your CMBS lender who is currently on sabbatical.

Instead, reach out to your local bank. Your friendly, neighborhood portfolio lender never left the business. While you experimented with complex loan documents, high legal fees, escrows and defeasance clauses, your portfolio lender has always been there waiting for you to see the light.

When you speak with your banker, be prepared to hear loan terms far different then what you might have been used to. Gone are the days when high-loan-to-values, projected cash flows, low debt service coverage ratios and non-recourse lending were in vogue. Those terms have mostly sunk with the Titanic. The new lingo includes in-place cash flow, amortization and guarantees.

The Mortgage Bankers Regional Conference held in Atlantic City recently was attended by more than 200 commercial mortgage bankers and brokers, portfolio and CMBS lenders, attorneys, appraisers and investors and owners. The theme from the conference was clear: While Wall Street is out of business and life companies are on the sidelines, the portfolio lenders have filled the void and are closing deals.

As we proceed into 2008 and look toward 2009, the best financing today for your real estate transaction may be with your local banker who originally brought you to the dance. Your banker doesn’t blame you for trying new financing options, he just cautions you before you start thinking about flirting again with exotic “dancers” who may re-trade you, who are here today and gone tomorrow and who have names that you cannot pronounce.

You will find that your local banker will not be wearing expensive suits, driving foreign cars or engaging in conversations in your office about someone else’s deal. Rather, he will spend as much time as is needed to formulate a transaction that is mutually beneficial to both parties at a reasonable interest rate and on terms that are flexible and easy to understand. You may even be asked about other banking services you could benefit from. This is what they call “relationship lending.”

So call your local portfolio lender today and invite him or her over for a cup of coffee. You may be surprised at the warm reception you will be given.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not of Real Estate Media or its publications.

Ronald M. Shapiro is vice president of Union Center National Bank, Union, NJ. He can be reached at [email protected].

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