“A clear and concise marketing plan that will deliver the projected return”
Sounds simple…. yet we see so few doing it well and most don’t do it at all! For the most part, the key elements of a loan application are well understood by most developers and don’t vary much. Fundamentally they comprise:
- YOUR FINANCIAL POSITION AND CREDIT WORTHINESS: these are what they are and you can’t gild the lily trying to make them appear better than they are (although some try and fail);
- GROSS REALISATION VALUES AND PROJECT EXPENSES: completed product prices, land value and associated build costs are all fairly defined values. They will be determined by the market (via pre-sales and tenders on the build job) and certified by the relevant market experts (valuers and QS/engineers);
- THE PROJECT TEAM AND PAST EXPERIENCE: again, these are relatively pre-defined components of your finance application and while you can enhance them with the introduction of appropriate expertise and testimonials, for the most part the key components have been locked in by the time the application is submitted;
- THE CAPITAL STRUCTURE AND PROJECT FEASIBILITY: the combination of debt, junior debt and equity is generally driven by how much equity you have or choose to contribute to the transaction, and the project feasibility draws on the known elements of costs and end values and the time required to undertake the process. While many try and rush this part of the process, the one thing you can’t buy is time, but if you understand the market you are operating in, you can use it to your advantage!
As lenders/investors contemplating financing and/or investing in your next project, we would argue that the key element most often missing from applications we see, and the one that you should arguably have the most influence over, is explaining to us how and to whom you are going to sell the product.
And it is not just your ability to sell the first 60% of the project in order to repay our funds that is critical, but how you will sell the last unit of stock, which represents your profit because that is what will convince us that you fully understand the deal you want us to invest in. So let’s look at what we actually want to hear/read about:
- WHERE WILL THE DEMAND FOR YOUR PRODUCT COME FROM?Too many developers fail to understand the market dynamics of supply and demand and who will be the buyers;
- THE SECOND PART TO WHO, IS “WHY” WILL THEY BUY IT?Why does your product meet the identified demand and how have you gone about satisfying yourself this is so? Again, too many developers follow the herd. What we as financiers/investors want to see is a considered approach based on an understanding of the market and economic factors driving the product decisions. This doesn’t have to be a costly exercise with massive reports. Quite simply, we want to see that the developer understands the markets dynamics at play in the area he is choosing to develop, and that he has created a product designed to meet the relevant drivers;
- WHY IS YOURS BETTER THAN THE ONE DOWN THE ROAD? Again, this is simply another way for you to demonstrate that you understand what the market wants and what the competition is doing. Frankly, if you don’t know the answer to these questions you should be seriously reconsidering why you are a developer.
- WHAT WILL THEY BE WILLING TO PAY FOR IT? And can you show evidence of similar product being purchased for that dollar value. Often the formal valuation report will be a precondition to settlement, and an approval will be required before it is produced. In its absence, we are looking for evidence to support the proposed Gross Realisation values in your feasibility. An ability to point to recent and relevant market sales in support of your assumptions is another way of demonstrating your professionalism;
- HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO SECURE THE SALES AND HOW WILL THEY BE FUNDED? In order to attract these buyers, marketing collateral, and an on-site sales office, sales agents salaries, marketeers fees up front and back end are all important considerations which many developers pay minimal consideration to, often because they do not fully understand the issues involved. We cannot stress enough just how important these elements of the deal are, and how your understanding of them influences credit and equity investment decisions. In particular, how you propose to fund them before and during the project construction phases are key to us fully understanding the real profitability of the project.
Simply put, more than anything else, if you can demonstrate a clear understanding of these marketing and sales related processes (and they are two very different beasts) you will get the attention of a lender or equity investor. Once you have our attention, it’s a much easier process to gain the approvals you are seeking.