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Equipment Financing and the Five C’s of Credit Evaluation

Equipment financing lenders, as well as banks, use the Five Cs to evaluate loan applications: Character, Credit, Cash Flow, Capacity and Collateral. However, while banks look at small-to-medium size companies from a Fortune 500 perspective, equipment financing companies see applicants from a small business perspective, which highlights a sixth C: Common Sense.

Here is what a lending institution means when referring to the Five Cs:

CHARACTER -

Every lender wants to understand what type of borrower an applicant will be in order to make smart, safe credit-granting decisions. The longer a company has been in operation, the more its payment history and outstanding credit reveal management’s attitude toward debt and making timely payments. Public records and references can come into play; still, the most reliable yardstick is the character of a smaller company’s owners. How they manage their personal financial obligations is usually a reliable indicator of the likelihood of their making timely payments. The more closely held a company, the more attention given the personal credit history of those in charge and their prior business history. No matter how solid a business plan appears and how reliable a company’s owners have been in the past, the realistic lender also wants the assurance of personal guarantees from the company’s owners. This may take the form of a signature or a pledge of cash or other collateral.

CREDIT -

Business credit reports offer a quick glance at a company’s willingness to pay trade accounts on time, as well as any derogatory public records, such as suits, liens, or judgments that negatively affect a company’s credit rating. Such reports also show any UCC filings. Potential equipment lenders are interested in the depth of a business’s borrowing history. The longer a company has been in business, the easier it is for a lender to determine credit stature; a good ten- or twenty-year credit history obviously carries enormous weight. This places a startup company less than two years old at a disadvantage. So, when traditional data sources, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Paynet cannot supply adequate information, the personal credit histories of a company’s owners become highly important.

CASH FLOW -

Lenders want to see that any company applying for a loan earns enough money to meet payroll, cover fixed operating expenses, and comfortably make timely payments on a new equipment loan or lease. While there are a number of ways to define cash flow, lenders most often calculate the cash flow available to repay new debt as net profit plus such non-cash expenses as amortization and depreciation.

CAPACITY -

Capacity is similar to a football team’s depth chart. The capacity to weather bad times is equally important to a company seeking funds. Capacity acknowledges that sometimes unforeseen things happen: a key employee becomes unable to work; a major customer is lost; an economic turn-down drastically reduces demand for product or services. Any number of other unlikely – yet possible – disruptions can negatively affect a company’s cash flow. And these disruptions can be temporary or permanent. So, capacity measures a company’s ability to pay off an equipment loan or lease with cash reserves or its ability to quickly convert real estate, stock, or other assets into enough funds to cover debt.

COLLATERAL -

How much collateral, above and beyond the equipment being financed, a company needs to secure a loan or lease depends largely on the nature of the lender and status of the business. A traditional bank often requires a blanket lien on all assets of the business while an equipment finance company normally uses only the equipment for collateral. A few lenders also offer sale-leasebacks and refinancing of existing equipment debt. This allows a company to free up cash flow or lower their monthly payment through equipment loans or leases.

COMMON SENSE -

Every decision to purchase and every decision to grant financing must be based on common sense. A lender needs to understand how additional equipment will increase the company’s stability and growth. Notwithstanding the risk every lender takes and the gamble every company makes when purchasing new equipment, for both lender and borrower, the foundation of a decision to finance equipment begins and ends with common sense.

Let’s Know About Computer Financing and Its Bad Credit

Computer financing refers to the various methods business owners use to purchase new computers or computer equipment. Many different agencies, including computer and electronics companies, specialized lending institutions, and banks, offer ways to finance buying new computers or equipment.

The first source for computer financing that a business owner should consider, is the direct manufacturer of computers and computer related products. Companies, such as Dell, Sony, and Apple, usually offer plans that allow a buyer to make small monthly payments on purchases at low interest rates. Monthly payments and interest rates are calculated according to the buyer’s credit report. The better the credit, the better chance a business owner has of paying less. Similar financing can be obtained through retail electronics stores as well, such as Best Buy and Circuit City.

There are lending institutions that deal solely with computer financing. Usually, their terms for financing are more liberal than those of manufacturers and retail stores. Many of these lending agencies do not even require a credit check or a down payment; therefore, individuals with bad credit have a good chance off getting a better deal with these agents.

Banks and credit unions may also have computer financing programs. With banks, however, an individual with bad credit may be turned down or may have to make large payments. Also, approval for financing from a bank could take several days or weeks; with other methods of financing, the approval process usually takes no more than twenty-four hours.

To get the best value for your money a business owner should research all the available options and decide which would be most suitable for his or her needs.

Computer financing for bad credit generally refers to ways for business owners with bad credit to get financing for new computers or equipment. Most computer manufacturers, retail electronics stores, and financing institutions have programs that allow individuals with bad credit to get the computers and equipment needed for a business.

Companies that offer computer financing for bad credit typically require applicants to have a checking or savings account and a minimum monthly income. If the individual is on the verge of bankruptcy they would be charged higher rates along with expensive monthly payments.

Computer financing for bad credit costs more because financing companies take a risk that the buyer may or may not pay off the computers or equipment. The buyer also pays more to compensate for his or her bad credit. When a buyer meets the monthly payments, finance companies report this to national credit institutions, thereby improving the buyer’s credit score.

Other companies that offer computer financing for bad credit are rent-to-own businesses. A buyer gets to use the computer while paying monthly installments towards the ownership of a computer. These companies typically charge higher interest rates and payment plans in comparison to other computer financing agencies.

Once a business owner with bad credit obtains a means of financing a computer, it is important to pay the monthly installments on time to improve his or her credit report and possibly lower the interest rate on the computer.

Construction Financing and Commercial Loans

There are many new challenges which are increasingly evident with commercial mortgages, particularly those involving commercial construction loans. Many commercial financing experts currently project that the changing environment for working capital loans and most other business financing will produce several new but avoidable problems for small business owners.

There have always been complex problems for business owners to avoid when seeking commercial loans. By most accounts, these difficulties are now expected to multiply because we appear to be entering a period which will be characterized by even more uncertainties in the economy. Prior standards for commercial mortgages are likely to change suddenly and with little advance notice by lenders if the current financial turmoil continues.

This article will evaluate why commercial construction loans have become harder to obtain and will discuss possible commercial finance funding solutions. The current economic uncertainties combined with less capital availability for commercial mortgages in general and construction financing in particular means that it is much more likely that borrowers will need to look beyond their regional market area for business financing help. In many areas of the United States, virtually all business construction funding sources are effectively inactive at this time in addressing new loan requests.

Even before business finance funding options became more limited recently, construction loans were generally considered to be riskier than other commercial financing by most lenders. For a commercial lender, the most significant risk factors for commercial construction financing usually include the following: (1) until the new building is completed, a commercial property cannot produce income to repay a loan; (2) a substantial risk factor is the possibility for contractor liens; and (3) many commercial construction projects take more time to complete than originally projected and/or exceed initial cost estimates. Of these factors, the risk of potential contractor liens appears to be a particular concern for commercial lenders because of the deteriorating health of the construction industry. In any event, current delinquencies in loan payments for commercial construction financing are running well above normal.

Construction financing for homebuilders has always been viewed separately by lenders because the eventual owners of single-family homes are individuals rather than businesses. From a commercial lending perspective, it is likely that the current difficulties seen in residential construction are indirectly impacting the availability of construction funding for commercial properties because the potential for contractor liens incurred during residential projects can quickly reduce the financial stability of contractors involved in both residential and commercial construction projects. This is a further reason why lenders are increasingly focusing on the risk of contractor liens as a rationale for providing less construction financing.

The feasibility of real estate investments has traditionally included an enduring theme of “location, location and location” which reflects the importance of a specific locale for investing. This is still an important factor when lenders evaluate the prospects for commercial real estate loans involving both existing commercial properties and new construction. A lender is likely to be most comfortable with a stable to growing revenue stream for a business which will in turn result in a stable to growing property valuation, thus preserving collateral for the commercial mortgage loan.

For the first time in several years, however, we are generally seeing widespread reductions in both residential and commercial property values throughout much of the United States, with some areas of the country exhibiting more volatility than others. A severe recession will result in decreasing income for many businesses over an extended period of time, and it is very difficult for either lenders or borrowers to project when this downward trend will reverse.

Given the difficulty of arranging financing based on location, using non-local lenders can be a practical solution for commercial financing involving both existing commercial properties and new construction. Small business owners should seek straightforward advice from a commercial loans expert who can provide effective strategies for changing and difficult business finance funding situations, especially in light of the challenging commercial borrowing climate prevailing currently.