This Private Commercial Real Estate Lender Cuts Through the Clutter To Produce Money-Making Wins

Private Lending That Produces Money Making Wins

In a Nutshell: Traditional commercial real estate lenders operate in a confined space that closes off opportunity when time is of the essence. Since 1989, Gelt Financial has specialized in results. Gelt is a nationwide private lender focused on financing single-family residence investment properties with one to four units and commercial properties. It operates on a 100% collateral basis to expand credit access and help entrepreneurs reap the rewards. Borrowers and brokers work directly with the experienced Gelt team to close deals that help everybody win.

Private lending, or hard money lending, uses property or other collateral rather than measures of creditworthiness to secure loans.

Collateral-based lending circumvents some bottlenecks associated with traditional bank lending, transferring capital to borrowers faster and with fewer restrictions.

That’s especially important in commercial real estate, where opportunities speedily come and go in a dynamic marketplace.

Florida-based Gelt Financial has been a nationwide force in private commercial real estate lending since 1989. Gelt has loaned more than $1 billion to help tens of thousands of entrepreneurs close deals and earn a return.

Gelt Financial logo

Although some borrowers may lack the credit scores and documentation to qualify for reasonably priced traditional loans, as many as 50% or more of Gelt’s customer base prioritizes access and speed.

A few days before he sat down for an interview with us in June 2024, H. Jack Miller, founder and president of Gelt Financial, recalled a recent phone conversation with a borrower who needed a remarkably rapid close.

“I got a call on Tuesday from someone who needed to close a $350,000 deal on Friday,” Miller said. “We approved the deal, and we’re doing it.”

Gelt focuses on residential investment properties, one- to four-unit rentals, and commercial properties. It offers borrowers and brokers direct access to decision-makers, flexible products, and an environment designed to get to a yes.

It’s an environment that appeals to many borrowers who could deal with banks if they wanted to.

“You might think the typical private lending customer has bad credit, but many are super-sophisticated business people,” Miller said. “Many of our customers come to us because they just can’t close quickly enough with a bank.”

A Results-Oriented Private Lender Since 1989

That said, Gelt deals with many customers with credit and credit record challenges. It’s a small company with about 14 employees who deal directly with each applicant.

Customers are willing to spend slightly more for credit in return for the certainty of Gelt’s personalized approach.

“It feels like every day we get a call from someone who has been approved for a loan and thinks they’re closing,” Miller said. “And on the closing day or the day before, the lender goes dark and leaves them at the altar.”

H. Jack Miller
H. Jack Miller, President, has led Gelt Financial for more than 31 years.

Loans for single-family residence investment properties range from $50,000 to $3 million, with a minimum property value of $250,000. Some markets can handle up to a 75% loan-to-value ratio, and custom terms meet more borrowers’ needs.

Gelt also offers bridge loans, hard money loans for commercial real estate, and no-credit-check loans.

It offers debtor-in-possession financing to companies in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, condominium and HOA financing, and even access to outside financial products. There’s always an emphasis on speed.

“One of the things we do to speed things up is we don’t order appraisals — we do internal evaluations,” Miller said. “Appraisals sometimes take six to eight weeks, and if we can close a deal in a week or ten days — sometimes less — we have a competitive advantage.”

Gelt is not a substantial fix-and-flip lender, viewing those deals as riskier than most. Other than that, everything — from opportunists who buy properties cheaply and need to close quickly to foreclosure bailouts — is on the table. The bulk of the work is decidedly routine small commercial properties.

“We’re doing a lot of small deals other people don’t want to do, and we’ve set ourselves up to do tons of them,” Miller said.

Insights and Education Create Win-Win Scenarios

Collateral is the key. Gelt is lending out its own money, so it’s hyper-vigilant about the viability of the collateral that secures it.

“I tell people to imagine lending their mortgage or retirement money to send their children to college because that’s what we’re doing,” Miller said. “If we’re okay with the collateral, 99% of the time, we’ll do the deal. If we’re scared, we won’t.”

That means Gelt doesn’t have to be as focused on the borrower’s credit, income, or assets. Banks must consider front- and back-end ratios and look for seasoning of capital, but Gelt focuses on real estate because that’s what ultimately protects its investment. The more collateral there is, the less Gelt is concerned with documentation.

Gelt Financial daycare center
Gelt Financial provided $900,000 in financing on the purchase of this daycare center in Atlanta after several banks and lenders declined.

“We’re very user-friendly,” Miller said. “We’ve been doing this a long time, so we’ll say yes or no very quickly.”

The key for borrowers is understanding the potential they receive from the slight upcharge Gelt requires to make the numbers work. Gelt goes to great lengths to help prospects new to private lending understand the benefits.

Extensive educational videos on Gelt’s YouTube channel explain commercial lending fundamentals like loan-to-value ratios, debt service, cap rates, and other essential concepts. The YouTube channel generates leads and repeat business.

“There’s very little training in this business,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of people selling training materials, but there’s very little real training.”

Education also happens when Gelt says no to a deal. The team educates the broker or borrower on the reasons behind adverse decisions to increase prospects for future success. There’s always a bottom-line reason when Gelt says yes.

“It’s not about the 50 or 100 basis points you’re going to pay extra for access; it’s how do you take our money and make money with it,” Miller said. “You’ll pay us something, but you’ll make a lot more.”

Access the Capital You Need to Make Money

It’s that results-oriented mentality that earns Gelt customer loyalty.

“Multiple times a week, we get a positive email or a comment on our YouTube channel, Instagram, or Facebook thanking us for empowering people,” Miller said. “While banks say no or string people along, we close the deal. Customers know there’s a premium, but they’re grateful because we give them the capital they need to grow their business.”

Miller said it’s rewarding but unsettling that customers are so grateful because borrowers aren’t usually inclined to thank their lenders.

Gelt Financial investment home
Gelt Financial financed a $265,000 first mortgage on this investment home located in Bayville, NJ. The borrower reached out to Gelt Financial to obtain a quick close.

“Because of how we position ourselves in the market, people are genuinely grateful,” Miller said. “They view us as a tool to help them make money.”

Maintaining that edge requires vigilance to keep up with changing business trends and customer needs. Gelt constantly adjusts its products and services to meet and exceed expectations.

In Gelt’s home base of Florida, for example, a condominium collapse in 2022 led to legislation that has led many condo associations to reach out to Gelt instead of traditional bank lenders to fulfill new regulatory requirements.

“Before that building collapsed, we did a condo deal every six months for 20 years,” Miller said. “All of a sudden, it’s a big part of our business.”

Higher Federal Reserve rates since the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a mixed bag for borrowers. Banks are pushing some borrowers off the books to reduce their balance sheets, which helps Gelt.

On the other hand, commercial property valuations aren’t what they once were due to changing work patterns.

Borrowers count on Gelt to continue to find money-making solutions amid constant change, as it has since 1989.

“If you use us as a tool, you’re going to do great,” Miller said.