How To Build Real Estate Business Credit

Key Takeaways

  • It is never too late to build business credit, as long as you are willing to take the right steps and act proactively.
  • A real estate business line of credit, whether you realize it or not, is one of the best tools investors have access to.
  • If you know how to get a line of credit for real estate investing, you are already ahead of the pack.

Have you ever wondered how to build business credit? Or how to best use a line of credit for your real estate investing business?

Buy and hold real estate investors have traditionally relied on personal credit or cash when paying for income-generating properties. These types of financing, for all intents and purposes, have served many investors well. However, in some cases these methods can stop investors from reaching their full goals and potential. That’s because they fail to recognize all of the options available, namely business credit. Investors who learn to properly build (and flex) their business credit are able to achieve impressive results when it comes to scaling a business. So, how does business credit work for real estate investors, and where do you get started? Keep reading to find out.


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 business line of credit for real estate investors

What Is Business Credit

Business credit is the financial history of a company or organization that is used when determining whether or not to lend money, do business or simply work with that company. Business credit is ranked on a scale from 0 to 100, and maintaining an 80 or higher is thought to be a good benchmark. Just like with personal credit, there are a few different organizations that calculate business credit. It is determined by looking at loan payments, credit risk, and the likelihood of a business closing.

The reason business credit is so important is because not only does it open up alternative financing options for investors, but it also serves to protect their personal credit from business related expenses. From the moment investors incorporate a business or apply for a loan they begin building business credit. That’s why it is crucial to regularly monitor your finances from the moment you start doing business.

How To Check Business Credit

There are a few agencies that calculate business credit scores including: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian. Each organization uses slightly different criteria, though they operate on the same scale. To check your business credit, request a report from one of the above organizations. While it does cost money to pull a business credit report, it is better to catch errors before they interfere with your business status. As a rule of thumb, business owners should aim to check their credit at least twice a year.

Investor Benefits Of Building Business Credit

What’s so important about developing business credit for rental property investors? Taking the time to establish a business and build credit will go a long way in the long-term success of your company. Simply put, business credit can benefit you and your company in more ways than one. Below you will find some of the most important reasons every business should build a real estate business line of credit:

  • Business credit can reduce the personal risk involved in financing an investment.

  • Investors who establish business credit can build legitimacy within the industry.

  • Through business credit, investors can increase their access to different financing options.

  • Business credit (and the opportunities it provides) can allow investors to grow their businesses.

Risk

Before talking about gains and returns, it is smart to point out the risk reducing and wealth preservation benefits that separating personal and business finances can offer. The separation of business (investment) credit and assets from everyday personal credit offers extra protection against a variety of risks. It can help individuals keep income coming in and investment assets safe when personal crises creep up. Conversely, personal income and holdings can be reserved when investments run into issues. This becomes even more important when partners are involved in buy-and-hold real estate.

One of the initial steps in this separation is incorporating or forming some type of legal entity to invest under, such as an LLC. Even for the passive real estate investor starting out with a property or two, LLCs can greatly decrease the risk of operating a business. Starting an LLC can also yield a number of additional wealth preservation and tax benefits, including lower fees, greater flexibility to distribute profits and limited taxation.

Legitimacy

While establishing a business entity to invest and build credit through can have very powerful financial advantages, it is a lot bigger than that. Building business credit also goes a long way in establishing a reputation for you and your company. Competitors, lenders, clients, and even other investors will see established credit as a positive sign when deciding whether or not to work with your business. Though they may not look at your exact business score, it is easy to see how a business with strong financial standing will be more attractive than one without it. Not only can you do business more easily, but your company also has a higher value as well. Keep this in mind as you build business credit and increase the legitimacy of your organization.

Financing

While some investors have complained about access to credit in recent years, others have found business and investment property financing plentiful. This is primarily due to new regulations and uncertainty about risks of residential consumer lending. Many lenders now exclusively offer financing to businesses and for commercial purposes. Real estate investors have been the big winners, as their entities are collateralized by brick and mortar institutions. Some find money has been thrown at them and commercial mortgage lenders are competing furiously to win their business.

There are many options available: hard money, private money, commercial mortgage loans, business lines of credit, non-recourse loans, and store and contractor credit. This money and credit can be used to acquire income producing properties, improve and maintain them, and re-market them for sale.

With true commercial financing, investors are not signing personal guarantees, and qualification is generally based upon the business’ credit rating and income capacity. Among the other benefits of this type of leverage: access to significantly larger sums of investment and working capital, lower risk, high ROIs, and faster wealth building.

Scalability

One of the most attractive prospects of building business credit is the chance to grow your company (and your profits). With increased access to financing, comes the opportunity to pursue more complex deals. This could mean building a passive income portfolio, acquiring more rehab projects or even making the jump from residential to commercial real estate. Additionally, as you grow your business credit and increase your legitimacy you may find more investors interested in partnering or working for your business. Use this appeal to build a reliable team, and you will find you can take on even more deals. Remember, by building your business credit you can in turn build your business into exactly what you want it to be.

real estate credit card

How to Start Building Business Credit

Getting started with business credit begins with incorporation or forming a business entity. With many lenders increasingly looking to social media for lending signals, building a presence online might not be a bad idea (though it shouldn’t become a distraction or detour from investing). Consider other methods of building professional and business credibility too, which will make it more appealing for business lenders to extend credit. Some might start with small business cards or credit lines. Most will find they can jump right in to obtaining commercial real estate loans. Just be wise with the credit.

Follow these simple steps to start building your own business credit:

  1. Incorporate your business: Start the process by incorporating your business or forming an LLC. Choose a business name, register with your state and submit the necessary paperwork to get started.

  2. Get A Federal Tax Identification Number: Follow the online application process to obtain an EIN for your business. This number is essential when starting a business, and will allow your organization to be taxed properly.

  3. Open A Business Bank Account: Do your research and find a bank with good account options for businesses. Start a checking account in your business name, and make sure you establish a good system for tracking your finances.

  4. Get A Business Phone Number: It is a good idea to get a separate phone number for your business to be listed in the phone book and on marketing materials. Whether you use a land line or a cell phone, get a phone number in your business name.

  5. Start A Business Credit File: At this point, search the main business credit bureaus to determine whether or not your company is already on file. If not, be proactive and start a business credit file for your organization.

  6. Get Business Credit Cards: Apply for a business credit card that reports to the business credit bureaus. Don’t be afraid to shop around before opening an account, after all you want to ensure you are choosing the best real estate credit card to work with.

  7. Establish A Line Of Credit With Those You Work With: Pay attention to relationships with vendors and other businesses that you work with. Make sure you have at least five suppliers to start establishing credit for your business.

  8. Pay Everything On Time: Just like with personal credit, it is crucial to make all payments on time to maintain good business credit. Set up a system to track your bills and remind yourself to regularly monitor your monthly business budget.

Summary

In order to build business credit, you will need to give yourself time, remember: it is not something that can happen overnight. That’s why the sooner you get started the better. Try following some of the above tips to get your real estate investing business on the right track. In time you may open new options to financing and scale your business in the process.

What are your best tips on building a business line of credit for real estate investors? Share your insights in the comments below.

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