Real Estate Investing: Hard Money Loans

People sometimes need more money than they had anticipated while dealing in real estate and that is when hard money lenders are needed the most. Hard moneylenders are private moneylenders who lend money for short terms with low loan to values and strict repayment schedules.

This type of a loan is called hard money loan because of its strict terms, higher than market interest rates and they usually take between 3 to 10 points as upfront fees. Hard moneylenders give investors access to asset-based capital, where the loan is secured by adequate collateral. The interest rate varies between 14% to 18% interest only annually and the loan term is usually 6 to 12 months.

Criterion to Secure Hard Money Loans:

The lenders look at the collateral, they need proofs, such as, tax returns and bank statements, and they make appraisals and inspect the property before granting the loan. The hard money lenders will study the investment intent, the exit strategy adopted, the property information provided such as the kind of property commercial or residential, and check the credit profile of the borrower, his financial strengths etc. the fee they charge depends on the risk factor and the nature of the deal. They will also study how the investor plans to use the borrowed money, so the investor has to present them with a good business plan in order to convince them they are low risk investments.

The terms and conditions vary from lender to lender and it is essential for an investor to find and maintain good relationship with a reputed hard moneylender in his area. Hard money loans are useful while purchasing or procuring a property or if a buyer lacks finances but has a good sizeable fixed income, then the seller would like to recommend a hard moneylender of repute to finance the buyer.

Hard moneylenders can be choosy as to which area of real estate investing such as purchasing a house, rehabbing a house, lease purchase options etc. they will lend money to. Investors have to understand the importance of maintaining good relationship with the hard moneylenders, as hard money loans will be essential for investing in real estate. It would be too hard to lose a great deal because you lacked the finances, with hard moneylender’s support that can never happen to an earnest investor. Some hard moneylenders give a pre-qualification letter that will help close deals faster as your assuring the other party that you can finance the deal.

Investors go for hard money loans as they are approved faster, making it possible to close deals faster too, unlike a conventional bank loan. The investor has to make sure to see how strict the pre-payment penalties are.

There are firms that offer their services and products to run businesses efficiently and hassle free.

What is a Hard Money Loan?

People often ask about “hard money loans” and the truth is they should be called hard money loans because it would be hard to imagine paying the rates and fees associated with them.

A hard money loan is a loan made by a non bank institution (often wealthy individuals or investor groups) to someone who has demonstrated a failure to manage their finances correctly resulting in an ultra low credit score (a middle credit score (a.k.a. FICO) of less than 500). Some lenders now even consider borrowers with credit scores less than 400!

Here are the pros and cons:


1. A borrower with ultra low credit scores can purchase a home. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If they are ready to make a change and pay the mortgage on time, this COULD help reestablish the credit (more in cons). If they do not make timely payments, they will lose the house AND the LARGE down payment required.

2. Tax savings for home ownership. Your interest should be tax deductible, even from a hard money lender, provided it meets all other IRS criteria. For more info read IRS Publication 936 (Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.)

3. Can be used to pay off a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or other major debt if you are a home owner. This should be a last resort and analyzed carefully as it may make things worse. Always discuss mortgage and finance matters with a qualified professional.

4. Can be obtained to avoid foreclosure. As with #3, this needs to be analyzed with the help of an expert.


1. LARGE Down payment. Hard Money lenders normally do not lend more than 70% of THEIR assessed value of a property. This means you will need to have a down payment (or equity) of at least 30% (some will go up to 80%).

2. HIGH RATES & LOTS OF FEES. Hard Money Lenders are not your local neighborhood bank. They really aren’t looking to help you get into a home; rather they are looking for a strong return on their investment. Currently, you will pay somewhere in the 12% range for an interest rate and at least 4 points in additional closing cost. (A point is 1% of the loan amount paid up front to ensure the investors minimum return on their money).

3. MAY NOT BE REPORTED TO CREDIT BUREAUS. Your loan will most likely not be reported to the credit bureaus which means paying it will not help restore your credit in a traditional sense. If you end up with a hard money loan for a mortgage, I recommend keeping copies of your cancelled checks (not money orders) for your records. Some subprime lenders may accept this as evidence of timely payment and may refinance you after 6 to 12 months of on time payments.

4. POTENTIAL FOR FORECLOSURE OR REPOSSESSION. Unlike banks, who don’t like to foreclose on properties, a hard money lender makes money by foreclosing on properties with delinquent payments. Their large down payments ensure that they will not lose money, so do not use a hard money lender if you are not 100% sure you can make your payments on time. Of course, life changes happen – people get sick, lose jobs, and get divorced – all I am saying is do not go into a situation when you already know you cannot make the payments to a hard money lender.

For clarification. A hard money loan is NOT the same a a sub prime loan. A sub prime loan is a loan made to someone with low credit scores, but usually above 500 and usually require less money down. Sub prime loans are made by institutions and can help borrowers restore their credit with on time payments and can often help a borrower that has had a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or other financial crisis.

What Kind of Financing is Right for Your Business?

Most businesses need financing. Unless you won the lottery or inherited a fortune most people start a business with either their own funds or a combination of their funds and financing. Even an established business needs financing at one time or another.

Cash flow is different than profits and profits do not guarantee money in the bank. Entrepreneurs need financing for inventory, payroll, expansion, develop and market new products, to enter new markets, marketing, or moving to a new location.

Defining and selecting the right financing for your business can be a complicated and daunting task. Making the wrong deal can lead to a host of problems. Understand that the path to getting financed is neither clear nor predictable. The financing strategy should be driven by corporate and personal goals, by financial needs, and ultimately by the available alternatives. However, it is the entrepreneur’s relative bargaining power with investors and skills in managing and orchestrating the finance drill process that actually governs the final outcome. So be prepared to negotiate with a financing strategy and complete financials.

Here’s a brief rundown on selected types of financing for commercial ventures.

Asset-Based Lending

Loans secured by inventory or accounts receivable and sometimes by hard assets such as property, plant and equipment.

Bank Loans

A loan that is repaid with interest over time. The business will need strong cash flow, solid management, and an absence of things that could throw the loan into default.

Bridge Financing

A short-term loan to get a company over a financial hump such as reaching a next round of venture financing or filling out other financing to complete an acquisition.

Equipment Leasing

Financing to lease equipment instead of buying. It is provided by banks, subsidiaries of equipment manufacturers and leasing companies. In some cases, investment bankers and brokers will bring the parties of a lease together.


This is when a company sells its accounts receivable a a discount. The buyer then assumes the risk of collecting on those debts.

Mezzanine Debt

Debt with equity-based options, such as warrants, which entitle the holders to buy specified amounts of securities at a selected price over a period of time. Mezzanine debt generally is either unsecured or has a lower priority, meaning the lender stands further back in the line in the event of bankruptcy. This debt fills the gap between senior lenders, like banks, and equity investors.

Real Estate Loans

Loans on new properties-which are short term construction loans-or on existing, improved properties. The latter typically involves buildings, retail and multi-family complexes that are at least 2 years old and 85% leased.

Sales/Leaseback Financing

Selling an asset, such as a building, and leasing it back for a specific period of time. The asset is generally sold at market value.

Start-Up Financing

Loans for businesses at their earliest stage of development.

Working Capital Loan

A short-term loan for buying assets that provides income. Working capital is used to run day-to-day operations, and is defined as current assets minus current liabilities.

It’s always better to get by without taking on debt. But on the other hand, most businesses need to acquire financing at one point or another. A home office is less likely to require financing than a business location that you rent. A one person operation is less likely to need financing than one with employees.

When you do need the financing, remember to examine all avenues of financing open to you and scrutinize the terms of all the proposals.