A Record Search with Risk Assessment (RSRA) report is a faster, less expensive form of environmental due diligence which was developed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for lending money on commercial properties. The SBA defined the scope of a RSRA in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) 50 10 6. Lenders wanted to lower the substantial transaction costs they felt were a barrier to lending. The SBA recognized that there are different levels of risk regarding commercial properties depending on the historic use. For example; a building that was used for retail, built in the last ten years on a plot of land that was formerly a cornfield. In this case, it doesn’t seem to make sense to spend several thousand dollars to have a full Phase 1 ESA when something far less expensive like a RSRA will do.
Table Of Contents
Record Search With Risk Assessment (The Risks):
Banks are in the risk business. They want to lend money and they know that their money is “at risk” until the last payment is made on the loan. Their fundamental concern is; “What are the risks that I’m taking and are they worth the interest I’ll make by closing a loan.” Thinking about the environmental due diligence process that banks go through, it’s clear that they aren’t trying to protect the borrower. They are trying to protect the value of the collateral. In the case of commercial real estate lending, the collateral is the property they are lending on. They need to make sure the property is;
- Worth more than the loan (Appraisal)
- The mechanicals all work and there aren’t hidden deferred maintenance issues (Property Condition Assessment (PCA)
- There isn’t an environmental problem in the soil or water (RSRA or Phase 1)
Banks are sophisticated and are prepared, at times, to take on more risk in different ways. They may feel comfortable enough with the size of the loan, the value of the collateral or the historic uses of the property that they don’t need a full Phase 1 ESA. Under the right circumstances, having a smaller, faster and less expensive form of environmental due diligence is the right call.
- Low Cost – $650
- Fast – Five days or less.
Record Search With Risk Assessment Limitations:
A RSRA has the benefits of price and speed over the Phase 1 ESA. However, with those benefits come limitations. A Phase 1 ESA offers a limitation of liability from previous owners contamination. A RSRA does not. This distinction is important because the RSRA is also less thorough than a Phase 1 ESA. The lender or buyer is taking more risk based on a lower level of scrutiny. Even the environmental professional’s responsibility is diminished to only what is knowable based on the information in the databases.
RSRA Eligibility Requirements:
Which properties are good candidates for RSRAs depends on the historic use. The Small Business Administration (SBA) maintains a list of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes in what are called “Environmentally Sensitive Industries”. The list can be printed by clicking here. Generally speaking, the NAICS codes reference business types that use chemicals, petroleum or heavy metals. Most automotive uses are on the list. Your bank will know if a property is RSRA eligible before commissioning a RSRA because the borrower will have completed an environmental questionnaire.
Record Search With Risk Assessment Questionnaire:
The environmental questionnaire helps the bank to determine if they are eligible to use the less expensive RSRA. Typically, the questionnaire is delivered by the bank but if they don’t have one of their own they can use one created by the environmental professional. Ours is attached here for your review.
The process flow for a RSRA is a bit complicated. We created a RSRA Infographic to explain visually how the process works.
- Federal, State, County and Municipal environmental database review by a trained environmental professional.
- City Directory (Yellow Pages) search of the historical uses of the property.
- Historic Aerials review.
- Fire Insurance Maps. * (at the discretion of environmental scientist)
- A written report identifying the property as “Low” or “High” risk.
- Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of fire department and city building department / code enforcement.
- Interviews with Owners / Occupants / Government Officials.
- Onsite survey by an environmental professional.
You can expect to have a RSRA done inside 5 days. If you are a volume customer or if you need a “Rush” RSRA, they can be done in forty-eight hours.
Some of our clients use non-industry standard naming for RSRAs such as RiskCheck, RiskCheck Basic, RiskCheck Plus.
Record Search With Risk Assessment Cost:
A RSRA typically costs $650. Volume clients can receive discounts.
RSRA Report Example:
We understand that we’ve talked a lot about the RSRA program. The question you probably have now is; “Can I please see what they look like?” Yes, you can download a sample RSRA report here. Notice that the document, not including the database reports, is only a few pages. The most important part is the sentence that describes the property as “Low” or “High” risk. If it comes back as low risk, you are good to borrow or lend. Should it comes back as high risk, you’ll need a Phase 1 ESA to put any lingering concerns to rest. However, if the scientist determines your property is high risk, we deduct $300 from the cost of a Phase 1 ESA because we will already have the database records needed for the next step.
Record Search With Risk Assessment Report Template:
We are super nice here at A3 Environmental Consulting and we’d like to provide a template of our RSRA report for freelance consultants to download and use as a productivity tool. It would be nice if you dropped us a line and to tell us if you found it useful. We like to make new industry friends whenever possible.
RSRA: Less Expensive Alternatives:
Sometimes you want just a 30,000 foot view of the environmental risk for a property. We have options. For $150 you can have an Environmental Screen with Professional Interpretation You’ll receive an email telling you if there’s anything to worry about. Sometimes that’s all you need.
If you need a RSRA, research or testing done on your property or one you are interested in purchasing, give A3 Environmental Consultants a call. We’ll get your project done with the utmost in confidentiality, we’ll meet or exceed Small Business Administration (SBA) Standard Operating Procedure 50 10 6 on any sort of commercial or industrial property. Our Assessments meet the requirements of all commercial lenders and government agencies such as the SBA, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). A3 Environmental Consultants can be reached at (888) 405-1742 or by email at Info@A3E.com.