The Five C’s of Securing a Commercial Real Estate Loan

Exterior of commercial building

There’s no doubt that commercial lending practices have become more regimented since 2008, since lenders must take additional steps to protect themselves from losses by evaluating the credit worthiness of commercial borrowers. This enhanced focus on the credit worthiness of borrowers and their loan requests has in some ways restricted lending, but it represents a necessary means of stabilizing the lending landscape.

Commercial real estate loans have not been immune to these more rigorous standards for commercial lending. When it comes to commercial financing, real estate in Texas can still be financed so long as borrowers make sure to keep the 5 C’s of commercial credit in order. While many reference the 5 C’s when speaking of credit in general, they also apply to the narrower field of commercial real estate lending, since the premises are sound regardless of the context. Keep reading to learn more about the 5 C’s of commercial real estate lending and how they may impact your future requests for financing.


Character is a somewhat subjective consideration, as it refers to the character of the borrower as discerned by the lender. The criteria for credit-worthy character can vary from lender to lender, but there are a few waypoints that lenders may use to assess the character of a potential borrower. Those criteria include credit history, employment or business history, past interactions with other lenders, reputation, references, and credentials.

This first C makes a good case for always meeting the terms of your financial transactions and contracts while also paying special attention to business relationships and personal interactions with others.


Capacity is sometimes referred to with another C, cash flow. It refers to your ability to repay the loan. Lenders want to see that you have not only a plan for making the numbers add up so that your debt is repaid, but that you also have the income to realistically pay back the loan.

In the case of real estate lending, there may be some documentation required that demonstrates your net assets, your monthly and annual income, debt and liquidity statements, and other property assets that indicate you have the ability to pay the loan back in the required timeframe.


Many lenders feel more confident about lending to borrowers who are willing to put some “skin in the game,” so to speak. In other words, lenders will often require that borrowers make a significant capital investment in the venture they wish to finance. In the case of real estate transactions, you may be required to invest at least 20% of the appraised value of the property through capital. That capital can come from personal savings, profits generated from previous real estate transactions, or other business revenues.

Paperwork and keys overlaid with office buildings


The condition of your business or the property to be purchased is another C that lenders weigh into the decision regarding your loan request. In terms of a business loan, lenders will want to see revenue sheets, market conditions, and competitor success rates. In a real estate transaction, the condition of the property will be assessed.

For example, in a hard money loan evaluation, the property to be purchased is the collateral for the transaction. Therefore, the lender will physically inspect the property to determine its condition and attach a reasonable value to it.


Collateral is particularly important in lending for real estate purchases because the amounts borrowed can be significant. Collateral is the physical property or assets that the borrower offers as a guarantee that the borrowed funds will be repaid. If the borrower can’t pay back the loan, the collateral can be offered as a form of repayment to the lender. In many real estate transactions, the purchased property can act as collateral, so that if the loan can’t be repaid the real estate serves as a guarantee.

If you are planning to finance your next commercial real estate purchase, make sure that you’ve considered the 5 C’s of commercial lending and how you match up against them. To learn more about the 5 C’s, contact Investor Loan Source at (409) 735-6267.