The Expert Blog
Jason D Koontz, CRC Opinions for All
Although the seeming speed with which new developments spring up around the country makes construction look straightforward, it is not if done correctly. The average construction project usually involves many risks, both to the lender and borrower, and having a successful project often depends on how well the risks are managed.
It is no surprise that lending on construction projects carries substantial risks. Many things can go wrong, and any one of them can cause a significant loss to either the lender or borrower, leading to disputes between parties. Other parties not related to the transaction can also be negatively affected. This could include condominium owners in an unfinished project. Contributors to loan failure may consist of:
When these problems occur, disputes between parties are not usually far behind. In most cases, these disputes require a construction lending expert witness in the arbitration, mediation, or litigation proceedings that would usually follow. The expert helps clarify the issues, including the burdens on either party or how well these were discharged.
However, a more critical consideration for parties is limiting their exposure to construction risks in the first place, usually with the help of a construction risk management expert. With lower exposure, parties can more easily manage risks and attend to issues as they arise.
Drivers of Construction Risk Management
The market experienced a downturn after the Great Recession of 2008 but picked up the pace until the Covid-19 virus impacted the economy and the lending environment. Due to the experiences of the recession, more lenders are actively implementing lending risk management strategies. Other drivers for lenders’ construction risk management include:
Managing Construction Lending Risk
One of the common means through which lenders manage risk is by establishing and maintaining a Real Estate Construction Administration (RECAD). Whether the lender's appetite covers just owner-occupied real estate, real estate developer-investor opportunities, or commercial real estate as well, having a RECAD function is a prudent risk management practice.
A RECAD unit conducts oversight and monitoring of construction projects financed by the lender. A million and one things can go wrong with a construction project. A RECAD unit’s task will be to keep an eye on every risk factor relevant to the project to ensure the project stays on track. The unit’s responsibilities will include:
Lenders commonly utilize the services of a construction risk management expert to consult on and, in some cases, oversee the setup of a RECAD department. Regardless, a fundamental recommendation is that the department is given as much independence from the real estate lending function as possible. This separation allows clarity of purpose and a coherent function on the part of the unit.
Construction loan risk programs are critical for profitable lending. Properly structured Real Estate Construction Administration Departments reduce risks for lenders. Should disputes occur, much would depend on how fault can be apportioned between parties or whether both parties sufficiently fulfilled their obligations; a construction loan expert witness can help educate the parties involved, and if necessary, the court to clarify these issues.
Jason D Koontz
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