A hard money loan is a type of short-term financing that is secured by real estate collateral. They’re often used by real estate investors who need to move quickly or who cannot qualify for traditional financing. Though these loans include fast approval and funding, hard money loans also come with higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms. To choose the right hard money lender, it is important to evaluate the lender’s reputation, experience, terms and rates, transparency, funding timeline, and network.
Investing in real estate can be a great way to build long-term wealth and generate passive income. However, obtaining financing for your investment properties can be a challenge, particularly if you have poor credit or are looking to close a deal quickly. This is where hard money loans come in.
While hard money loans can be a valuable tool for investors, they are not without risks. Keep reading to learn more about hard money loans, how they work, and the pros and cons of using them to finance your real estate investments.
What is a hard money loan?
A hard money loan is a type of short-term real estate financing that’s typically used by investors who need to close deals quickly or who were turned down by traditional lenders. Unlike traditional loans that are issued by banks and other financial institutions, hard money loans are issued by private lenders or investor groups.
One of the key differences between hard money loans and traditional loans is the underwriting process. While traditional lenders focus primarily on a borrower’s creditworthiness and income, hard money lenders are primarily concerned with the value of the property that the loan will finance. As a result, hard money lenders are typically more willing to work with borrowers who have poor credit scores or who have a history of bankruptcies or foreclosures.
Another key difference between hard money loans and traditional loans is the interest rate. Hard money loans often come with higher interest rates than traditional loans because they’re considered riskier investments for lenders. Additionally, hard money loans usually have shorter repayment terms than traditional loans, often ranging from 6 to 24 months.
Despite the higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms, hard money loans can be a valuable tool for real estate investors. By working with a hard money lender, investors can access the capital they need to purchase and renovate investment properties, and then refinance with a traditional lender once the property is stabilized.
Why is it called hard money?
The term “hard money” refers to the fact that these loans are secured by real estate collateral, which is considered a “hard asset.” Unlike traditional loans, which are often based on the borrower’s creditworthiness or income, hard money loans are based on the value of the financed property. Therefore, they’re considered to be a more “hard” or tangible form of financing.
How do hard money loans work?
The application process for a hard money loan is typically faster and less rigorous than the process for a traditional loan. Hard money lenders are mostly concerned with the value of the property that the loan is being used to finance. This means borrowers must provide information about the property’s purchase price, estimated repair costs, and projected resale value.
To apply for a hard money loan, borrowers will typically need to provide the following information:
- Purchase contract. A copy of the purchase contract for the property that the loan will be used to finance.
- Property information. Information about the property, including its address, square footage, and current condition.
- Repair estimates. Estimates for the cost of any necessary repairs or renovations to the property.
- Exit strategy. A plan for how the borrower plans to repay the loan, such as refinancing with a traditional lender or selling the property.
Once the lender reviews the borrower’s application and determines that the property is a suitable investment, they will issue a loan approval letter. This outlines the terms and conditions of the loan, which vary depending on the lender. However, these conditions typically include a loan-to-value ratio (LTV) that determines the maximum amount of the loan, as well as the interest rate and repayment term.
Once the borrower accepts the loan approval letter, the lender often requires an appraisal and title search to verify the value and ownership of the property. After the appraisal and title search are completed, the lender will fund the loan, and the borrower can use the funds to purchase and renovate the investment property.
Pros and cons of hard money loans
There are several advantages to using hard money loans to finance real estate investments. However, while hard money loans can be a valuable financing option for real estate investors, there are also several potential downsides that borrowers should be aware of.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Flexible underwriting
- No prepayment penalties
- Creative financing options
- Asset-based lending
- Higher interest rates
- Shorter repayment terms
- Higher fees
- Greater risk of default
- Limited availability
- Speed. Hard money loans can be approved and funded much faster than traditional loans, often in as little as a few days. This can be a significant advantage for investors who need to close a deal quickly to take advantage of an opportunity.
- Flexible underwriting. Hard money lenders focus on the value of the financed property rather than the borrower’s credit score or income. This makes it easier for borrowers with poor credit or other financial challenges to qualify for a loan.
- No prepayment penalties. Hard money loans often come with no prepayment penalties. This means that borrowers can repay the loan early without incurring any additional fees.
- Creative financing options. Hard money lenders may offer creative financing options that aren’t available through traditional lenders. For example, a hard money lender may be willing to finance the purchase of a distressed property that needs significant repairs, which traditional lenders would not consider.
- Asset-based lending. Hard money loans are secured by the financed property, which means that the lender has a legal claim to the property if the borrower defaults on the loan. This can be an advantage for lenders, as it reduces their risk and provides them with collateral to recoup their investment if necessary.
- Higher interest rates. Hard money loans often come with higher interest rates than traditional loans, which can significantly increase the cost of borrowing. Depending on the lender and the borrower’s creditworthiness, interest rates for hard money loans can range from 7% to 15% or higher.
- Shorter repayment terms. Hard money loans typically have much shorter repayment terms than traditional loans, often ranging from 6 to 24 months. This can be a challenge for investors who need more time to complete renovations or sell the property.
- Higher fees. In addition to higher interest rates, hard money loans may also come with higher fees than traditional loans. For example, a lender may charge an origination fee, a processing fee, or a prepayment penalty.
- Greater risk of default. Because hard money loans often finance high-risk investments, they are inherently riskier for lenders than traditional loans. As a result, lenders may require higher down payments or be less forgiving of missed payments or other default risks.
- Limited availability. Hard money loans are not as widely available as traditional loans since they’re typically issued by private lenders or small investor groups. This can make it harder to find a lender who is willing to work with a particular borrower or property.
Overall, hard money loans can be a valuable tool for real estate investors who need to close deals quickly or can’t find financing elsewhere. However, borrowers should be aware of the potential drawbacks of these loans and carefully consider their options before deciding to move forward.
Tips for choosing a hard money lender
Choosing the right hard money lender is critical to ensuring that your real estate investment is successful. Here are some tips to help you find the right lender for your needs:
- Check the lender’s reputation. Look for lenders with a good reputation in the industry. Ask for referrals from other investors or real estate professionals, and research the lender online to see if there are any negative reviews or complaints.
- Evaluate their experience. Look for a lender with experience in the type of property you’re looking to finance. For example, if you’re purchasing a commercial property, look for a lender with experience in commercial real estate loans.
- Consider their terms and rates. Compare the interest rates and terms offered by different lenders to find the best deal. However, be aware that the lowest rate may not always be the best option if the lender has a poor reputation or other disadvantages.
- Look for transparency. Choose a lender who is transparent about their fees, terms, and other requirements. Avoid lenders who are evasive or who do not provide clear answers to your questions.
- Check their funding timeline. Hard money loans are known for their speed, but different lenders may have different timelines for approving and funding loans. Look for a lender who can meet your timeline and provide the funding you need when you need it.
- Consider the lender’s network. Look for lenders with a broad network of investors and real estate professionals. A lender with a strong network can provide valuable resources and connections that can help you succeed in your investment.
- Hard money loans are a type of short-term financing that is secured by real estate collateral.
- They’re often used by real estate investors who need to move quickly or who cannot qualify for traditional financing.
- Though hard money loans offer fast approval and funding, they come with higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms.
- To choose the right hard money lender, it’s important to evaluate the lender’s reputation, experience, terms and rates, transparency, funding timeline, and network.
View Article Sources
- What is GovLoans.gov? — GovLoans.gov
- Loans — U.S. Small Business Administration
- Former Pierce County Hard Money Lender Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud Scheme — U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington