Financing a Hotel Purchase

Financing a Hotel Purchase: Mastering the Art

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Gerry Stewart

Financing a hotel purchase typically involves securing a substantial loan, often in the range of millions of dollars, to acquire or develop a hotel property. Borrowers, such as real estate investors or entrepreneurs, work with lenders, which can include banks, specialized commercial lenders, or investors, to obtain the necessary funds.

The terms and conditions of these loans, including interest rates and repayment schedules, can vary, making it essential to carefully assess financing options to ensure the success of the hotel investment.

This article is a must-read because it demystifies the art of financing a hotel purchase, ensuring your investment’s success.

With the hospitality industry evolving rapidly in the post-COVID era, navigating the process of financing a hotel acquisition demands a strategic approach. This guide will explore the ins and outs of financing a hotel purchase in today’s landscape.

The hotel industry shows immense growth potential in the coming years as travel rebounds, with hotel revenue projected to reach nearly $550 billion in the US alone by 2023 . As an investor, you can capitalize on this opportunity by acquiring a hotel asset. However, the complexities of the transaction process itself can prove daunting.

Key Takeaways on Financing a Hotel Purchase

  • Conduct thorough due diligence on the hotel, market, operations, and financials to inform financing strategy
  • Understand key loan amount options like SBA loans, conventional loans, and bridge loans to find optimal terms
  • Consider diverse financing structures – combining debt, equity, mezzanine capital, JVs, and crowdfunding
  • Analyze impacts of COVID-19, travel trends, and hotel innovations on asset’s finances
  • Highlight technologies that could enhance operations, lower costs, and boost competitiveness
  • Emphasize sustainability features and CSR that improve returns and financing terms

Types of Hotels

Real Estate Loan
Real Estate Loan

The type of hotel you plan to acquire can significantly influence the financing strategy. Lenders evaluate the associated risks, competitive landscape, financial projections, and other dynamics surrounding each hotel category. The main types of hotels include:

Luxury Hotels

  • Target affluent travelers with premium amenities like fine dining, spas, and concierge service
  • Generate the highest Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR)
  • Require higher capital investments and operating expenses
  • Qualify for lower loan-to-value ratios, e.g. 50%-60% LTV 

Economy/Limited Service Hotels

  • Offer affordable, no-frills accommodations for budget-conscious travelers
  • Feature standardized room layouts with basic amenities
  • Have lower operating costs and workforce requirements
  • May qualify for higher leverage around 70% LTV

Boutique Hotels

  • Provide unique, intimate experiences with stylized design aesthetics
  • Cater to niche travel segments looking for distinctive accommodations
  • Have smaller room inventories limiting economies of scale
  • Pose risks associated with singular positioning and dependence on location

Extended Stay Hotels

  • Offer apartment-style suites with full kitchens targeting long-term guests
  • Enable higher ADRs with weekly and monthly rates
  • Require lower staffing levels with housekeeping only every 7 days
  • Pose volatility risks if corporate/leisure travel segments fluctuate

Resort Hotels

  • Feature extensive recreational amenities like golf courses, spas, marinas, etc.
  • Rely heavily on location-based factors and seasonal travel trends
  • Require large initial investments and operating expenses
  • Qualify for 50%-60% LTV based on volatile cash flow patterns 

Evaluating dynamics like target markets, positionings, cash flows, and risk profiles across hotel categories allows you to determine the optimal financing rates and terms. Work closely with your financing partners to structure loans that match your chosen hotel type.

Hotel TypeLoan Amount ConsiderationsFinancing Structures
LuxuryLower LTV ratios (50-60%)Higher equity requirements (30%+)
Economy / Limited ServicePotential for higher LTV (~70%)More options for debt financing
BoutiqueLocation-specific risksCrowdfunding to engage local community
Extended StayLower volatility risksJoint venture for expertise
ResortSusceptible to seasonalityLayered mezzanine and equity capital
UrbanCompetitive market landscapePrivate equity for repositioning capital
SuburbanStable/predictable demandTraditional senior bank debt financing
AirportNiche target marketEquity partners for development capital

Types of Loans

Understanding the loan products suited for hotel acquisitions empowers you to select financing that aligns with your needs and capabilities. Key loan types include:

SBA 7(a) Loans

  • Offered by lenders and guaranteed by the Small Business Administration
  • Up to $5 million with 25-year terms and reasonable interest rates
  • Require 10%+ borrower equity
  • Limited to experienced hotel owners with strong credit 

SBA 504 Loans

  • Provide 40% financing with 10% borrower down payment and 50% private bank loan
  • Fixed interest rates around 4-5% on the SBA portion
  • Require creating 10+ full-time jobs to qualify
  • Ideal for hotel franchisees or independent properties

Conventional Loans

  • Offered by private lenders like banks and credit unions
  • Typically require at least 20-30% as down payment
  • Have higher qualifying standards for credit score, financials, etc.
  • Interest rates driven by market conditions and risk profile

Bridge Loans

  • Provide short-term financing for acquisition and renovations
  • Interest-only payments with balance due in 6-24 months
  • Useful when long-term financing not yet secured
  • Carry higher costs and stringent requirements

Evaluating which loan product suits your financial profile, asset type, and business goals is vital for securing favorable interest rates, terms, fees, equity requirements, and other financing components tailored to your hotel acquisition.

Types of Financing Options

Beyond direct lending, hotel purchases can tap into diverse financing sources based on your risk tolerance, desired control, and other priorities:

Equity Financing

  • Raising capital from individual investors or private equity firms
  • Allows for shared ownership and investor expertise
  • Risks include reduced control and sharing of profits
  • Typical 20%+ equity target for hotel deals

Crowdfunding

  • Pooling smaller investments from a large group of individuals
  • Provides marketing exposure and community engagement
  • Involves managing many stakeholders
  • Minimums around 5-10% of total capital 

Mezzanine Financing

  • Debt capital that can cover 10%-20% of the purchase price
  • Bridges the gap between equity and senior debt
  • Higher cost than senior loans but no equity dilution

Joint Ventures

  • Partnering with an established hotel operator to share resources
  • Benefits include cost efficiencies, risk reduction, and expertise
  • Challenges include alignment of goals and vision

Diversifying your capital stack across multiple financing sources allows you to optimize leverage, risk exposure, carry costs, and control for your hotel acquisition.

Specialized Hotel Lenders and Products

Occupancy Rate
Occupancy Rate

Direct Hotel Lenders

Direct hotel lenders specialize in hospitality financing, offering both debt and equity capital. Their industry expertise provides a detailed understanding of the unique risks and opportunities associated with hotels.

Direct lenders may offer advantages like higher leverage, quicker approvals, lower fees, and greater flexibility compared to traditional banks. They evaluate factors like franchise affiliation, market differentiation, and innovative amenities when underwriting deals.

Loans from specialized providers can be an optimal source of capital for your hotel acquisition or construction project.

Business Acquisition Loans

Business acquisition loans allow you to buy an existing hotel property or the operating company itself.

Lenders like CIT Bank and ROK Financial offer business acquisition loans tailored to the needs of hotel investors. These loans cover a portion of the purchase price, securing the asset as collateral. Terms may range from 5-25 years for loans up to $15 million. Lenders scrutinize the projected net operating income, debt service coverage ratio, loan-to-value ratio, and other figures to size the loan amount.

Business acquisition financing can enable you to quickly capitalize on a promising hotel deal.

Hotel Construction Financing

For a new hotel development, construction loans provide financing through the building phase. The land and improvements serve as collateral once completed. Hospitality lenders offer construction financing up to 80% of total costs.

Draws are issued during the project to fund completed work. Interest-only payments keep costs low during construction before converting to permanent financing.

Lenders closely evaluate factors like permits, contracts, experience of the developer, franchise partner, feasibility study, appraisal, and interest reserves when structuring terms.

Construction loans can propel your vision for a new hotel into reality.

Debt Financing Considerations

Equipment Loan
Equipment Loan

Mezzanine Loans

Mezzanine loans fill the gap between senior debt and equity, providing financing up to 90% of the asset value. While costlier than senior debt, mezzanine debt helps hotels maximize leverage while avoiding equity dilution.

These subordinated loans may feature extended term lengths, interest-only periods, and flexibility to bolster equity returns. With no personal guarantee, the primary consideration is the value of the hotel asset itself.

For high-quality hospitality assets in top markets, experienced mezzanine lenders like Provident can tailor loan amounts, rates, and terms to meet your business objectives.

Loan Offerings

The diversity of hotel financing options allows you to find the right loan offering for your unique needs. Evaluate available offerings across criteria like loan-to-value ratios, debt yield, debt service coverage, interest rates and fees, terms, prepayment flexibility, guarantees, reserves, and origination process.

For instance, bridge loans offer speed and flexibility for renovations, while SBA-guaranteed products bring reasonable costs.

Financing providers catering to hotels understand key variables like occupancy percentages, RevPAR, franchising relationships, and seasonal demand patterns. This domain expertise aids in structuring optimal terms.

Capital Considerations

Capital Loan
Capital Loan

Minimum Financing

Most hotel lenders have minimum loan amounts between 1-10 million. Smaller deals may require alternate financing sources like community banks, credit unions, microlenders, online lenders, or crowdfunding platforms.

These sources fill niche financing needs, like boutique and independent hotel deals under 5 million. With less stringent requirements, they evaluate factors like personal credit history, FICO score, global cash flow, and relationship lending.

For larger hotel purchases, mezzanine loans or preferred equity can supplement senior debt to achieve minimum financing scale.

Lines of Credit

Hotel lines of credit offer flexible working capital to handle operating fluctuations. HELOC loans use the real estate as collateral while business lines leverage cash flow.

Lines of credit smooth seasonal variations in occupancy and expenses, fund improvements, or capitalize on opportunities. Many lenders like Annex provide lines up to $2.5 million tailored for hospitality businesses. Interest rates may fluctuate but usually range from 7%-12%.

Key qualifications include time in business, revenue patterns, loan-to-value, and personal credit history. Lines of credit provide ready reserves that support your hotel’s financial resilience.

Financing Terms and Conditions

Loan Maturity

Hotel takeout financing typically ranges from 5-25 years, aligned with the asset life. Luxury properties may qualify for 25-30 year periods. Shorter maturity schedules require refinancing well before the asset’s useful life, while overextended periods heighten risk.

Evaluate options around 10-20 years for optimal balance. Interest-only periods from construction financing may continue 1-2 years post-completion to ramp up occupancy. Ensure terms allow flexible prepayment.

Requirements beyond the standard 5-10 year franchise term should be avoided.

Optimal loan maturity smooths the ongoing financing burden over the operating timeframe.

Monthly Payments

Hospitality loans feature monthly principal and interest payments, usually based on a 20-30 year amortization schedule. Rates may be fixed or variable. Fixed-rate financing around 5% can provide payment stability.

Budgeting 30,000-60,000 per 1 million borrowed is reasonable for limited and select service hotels. Luxury and full-service hotels may exceed 100,000 monthly per $1 million at higher average rates.

Strong debt service coverage ratios (DSCRs) demonstrate the asset’s ability to fulfill ongoing financing obligations across demand fluctuations. Monthly payments should align with projected cash flows.

Impact of COVID-19

Repayment Term
Repayment Term

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new dynamics influencing hotel financing:

Declines in Travel Demand

  • 2020 US hotel occupancy dropped to 44%, compared to 66% in 2019 
  • Hotel valuations and cash flows declined, impacting financing terms
  • Lenders heightened scrutiny of projections and feasibility

Government Relief Programs

  • SBA loans, grants, and debt relief assisted hotel businesses
  • Tax breaks were offered for new hotel development projects
  • Public incentives targeted recovery in impacted hospitality sectors

Industry Consolidation

  • Hotel foreclosures spurred opportunities for distressed acquisitions
  • Large brands expanded via mergers and acquisitions
  • Financing supported roll-ups of smaller independent hotels

Operational Innovation

  • Contactless, mobile, and automated technologies were rapidly adopted
  • Creative revenue streams included F&B pop-ups and co-working spaces
  • Lenders assessed flexibility and innovations in underwriting

Evaluating the pandemic’s lingering impacts across travel patterns, guest expectations, labor dynamics, and market disruptions will be key in financing hotel purchases in the years ahead.

The Role of Technology

Technological innovation continues influencing hotel financing:

  • Predictive Data Analytics – AI and machine learning provide lenders refined data for forecasting revenues, cash flows, and risk factors. This enables more strategic underwriting aligned with asset performance.
  • Smart Contracts – These self-executing contracts on blockchain networks deliver enhanced transparency between borrowers, lenders, and intermediaries for activities like loan servicing and payments. Automating cumbersome processes can lower transaction costs.
  • Crowdfunding Platforms – Leveraging technology for crowdfunding increases access to capital from a wider pool of investors. Online platforms like Kickstarter, Fundrise, and SmallChange simplify raising equity or debt financing.
  • Mobile Payments – Contactless payments via digital wallets streamline the guest experience. Tech-enabled, mobile-first commerce capabilities strengthen hotel competitiveness. Thus, lenders weigh such amenities in financing decisions.

Analyzing how emerging and future technologies could enhance revenues, lower costs, and create competitive advantages is key to securing financing in today’s tech-driven landscape.

The Role of Sustainability

Sustainability is an increasingly crucial factor in hotel financing:

  • Eco-efficiency Features – Elements like low-flow plumbing, LED lighting, and energy-efficient HVAC require upfront investments but yield long-term utility savings that improve returns. Lenders reward sustainability commitments that strengthen bottom lines.
  • Renewable Energy – Transitioning to on-site solar, wind, or geothermal energy powers operations more sustainably while mitigating risks of utility cost spikes that jeopardize debt servicing capacity. Lenders look for renewable energy capabilities.
  • LEED/Green Certifications – Third-party verified certifications like LEED demonstrate environmental best practices. Such reputational perks allow properties to command rate premiums, thus boosting valuations that support financing.
  • CSR and ESG – Social initiatives like staff development, community giving, and diversity programs complement environmental efforts. Comprehensive CSR/ESG strategies increasingly influence investor and lender decisions.

Integrating strategic sustainability and social responsibility components into your model can secure more attractive financing rates and terms while future-proofing the asset itself.

Latest TrendsSource
Nominal room revenue is projected to reach new heights ($197.48 billion vs. $170.35 billion in 2019)Travel Pulse
Room-night demand is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels (1.3 billion occupied room nights vs. 1.29 billion in 2019)AHLA 2023 State of the Hotel Industry Report
Hotels are expected to generate $46.71 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2023, up from $41.11 billion in 2019AHLA 2023 State of the Hotel Industry Report
Staffing is expected to remain a significant challenge for U.S. hotels in 2023, with hotels projected to employ 2.09 million people in 2023, down from 2.35 million in 2019AHLA 2023 State of the Hotel Industry Report

Tips and Best Practices

Follow these tips when seeking financing for your hotel acquisition:

  • Conduct Comprehensive Due Diligence – Assess critical factors like local market conditions, franchise agreements, occupancy trends, capital needs, and cash flow feasibility to inform your financing strategy and collateralize the asset.
  • Understand Loan Options – Compare various loan products across criteria like interest rates, terms, fees, prepayment options, guarantor requirements, etc. to find the optimal structure.
  • Analyze the Property’s Pro Forma – Forecast revenue, expenses, and cash flows across different scenarios to quantify debt service coverage ratios, determine equity requirements, and identify risks.
  • Evaluate Different Financing Sources – Consider the pros and cons of combining debt, equity, mezzanine capital, JVs, and other structures to create a strategic capital stack.
  • Negotiate Favorable Terms – Seek opportunities to negotiate improved terms during loan underwriting like reduced fees, lower reserve requirements, or greater advance percentages to enhance leverage.
  • Project How Technology Could Enhance Operations – Demonstrate how implementing tech-enabled platforms may elevate guest experiences, unlock revenue opportunities, and streamline operations to improve financability.
  • Highlight Sustainability Attributes – Emphasize eco-efficiency upgrades, renewable energy capabilities, and CSR programs that could lower costs, create competitive differentiation, and attract favorable financing.

By following structured best practices and showcasing your preparation, you can secure financing terms tailored to your hotel acquisition goals.

Case Study

I was contacted by a company that wanted to buy a hotel in a prime location in Atlanta, Georgia. They had been using QuickBooks to manage their accounting and financial records, and they had a good credit history and cash flow. However, they needed a large amount of money to close the deal, and they were having trouble finding a suitable lender.

I suggested that they apply for a hotel construction loan from one of our partner lenders, who specialized in hotel loans and offered competitive rates and terms. I helped them prepare their loan application and submit their loan documents, including their QuickBooks reports, to the lender. The lender reviewed their application and approved them for a loan of $15 million, with a 10-year term and a 5% interest rate.

The company was very happy with the loan offer, but they still faced a challenge. They had to pay the seller of the hotel within 30 days, but the loan disbursement would take at least 60 days. They needed a short-term bridge loan to cover the gap.

I searched for another lender who could provide them with a short-term commercial bridge loan, which is a type of loan that is used to finance an asset until permanent financing is obtained. I found a lender who offered them a bridge loan of $15 million, with a 6-month term and an 8% interest rate. The lender made the loan decision within 24 hours and wired the money to the company’s account within 48 hours.

The company was able to pay the seller of the hotel on time and secure their ownership of the property. They then used the hotel construction loan to repay the bridge loan and renovate the hotel. They were very grateful for my help and gave me a positive feedback. They also referred me to their friends who were looking for business loans.

Conclusion

Financing a hotel purchase in today’s recovering market requires in-depth planning and diligence across property types, loan products, financing structures, and other key elements.

Assessing the impacts of COVID-19, technology, and sustainability trends is also essential for mapping a strategic financing approach aligned with your business objectives and risk tolerance.

By exploring lender partnerships, capital sources, and financing innovations, you can structure an optimal hotel acquisition deal.

Gerry Stewart
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