Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans are loans intended to be used for a short period time between the initial requirement for funds and a permanent, usually less costly, financial solution. The term hard money refers to money that is lent based on the value of real estate. Hard money loans carry higher costs and shorter terms than traditional bank mortgages and are used for specific business purposes. On the positive side, hard money loans collateralized by real estate are also characterized by their ability to be completed and funded in a very short period of time and with relatively little paperwork and preparation efforts.

Hard money loans are needed when an immediate need arises, such as:

Real estate purchases – Hard money loans are excellent resources for the purchase of real estate that requires a very short close timeframe. For example, an excellent purchase price on real estate is available, but obtaining it requires closing within a very short period of time – such as when the real estate is in danger of foreclosure, a “bidding war” makes a fast closing an advantage, the seller requires instant cash but appropriate long term funding will take time, etc.
Retrieving real estate from foreclosure
Business loans – Hard money loans collateralized with real estate can provide operating capital for businesses in as little as two weeks.

Hard Money Lenders

There about a dozen or two major direct hard money lenders in the US. Smaller private investors may also provide lending for hard money loans. They tend to serve a specific locale or region and can be difficult to identify and verify. Almost all the advertisements for hard money loans – or for that matter, any type of non-bank generated business funding – direct you to brokers, not direct lenders. Many web sites carry claims that the company is both a direct hard money lender and a broker. Truth be told, they will almost always be serving in the broker capacity, not as a direct hard money loan lender.

Brokers & Direct Lenders

The hard money financial sector is one of the least regulated financial sectors in the US today. Fraud and deception abound. Therefore, it is important to perform sufficient research to determine if the broker or direct lender is a company you can trust to do business with. Here are some guidelines to look for in order to obtain the most advantageous bridge loan:

Hard Money Direct Lenders

A direct lender is not a broker. This is the company that actually writes the check and funds the loan. There are several ways that direct hard money loan lenders are funded (see below), but the important thing is that when you bring your loan request to them, they do not in turn ‘float’ your loan among direct lenders around the country in an effort to get your loan funded. Rather, direct lenders use internal money to fund your loan.
Institutional Funding

The term institutionally funded means that you working with a direct loan funding company who already has the money to fund the loan in their possession. Many direct lenders are funded by investors. These financially qualified individuals invest in hard money loans on a case by case basis. When you or your broker contacts the lender, your paperwork is then ‘translated’ by the loan officers in that company into a prospectus for their investors who then decide whether they want to invest. Once sufficient funds have been accrued, your loan is funded. This can take just a few hours or weeks to accomplish.

An institutionally funded direct lender is funded by banks, retirement funds, and/or other such institutions. They may have one or more funding sources, but the funds are already available and at their disposal to fund hard money loans based on the criteria set forth. Since an institutionally funded hard money loan lender does not need to turn to individual investors for each loan, your loan can fund, depending on whether all your other criteria are order, in a week or two!

Hard Money Brokers

Although it may be less expensive to work with a direct lender, it may not be expedient. Like a good real estate broker, knowledgeable hard money loan brokers may be valuable to you. When selecting a broker, ask for references from people and companies he/she has already worked with. Ask about commission – the compensation you will pay them for their services. An honest broker will tell you that their commission ranges from 1 – 4 or 5% (the points you pay), depending on whether they share your project with other brokers. This is not an unreasonable compensation for the work they may perform. A knowledgeable broker will know the direct lenders that handle your kind of project. Remember, each direct lending company sets its own criteria. They will help you understand the documentation you will need to provide and review your package to be sure that your loan will progress smoothly.

Hard Money Criteria

Hard money loan criteria varies from one lender to another. The more ‘flexible’ the lender is about the terms, LTV (loan to value), financial qualifications, etc., the higher the risk to the lender and therefore the higher the rates you will pay. If you have a loan that is a near bank deal, which means a loan your local bank almost said “Yes” to, but it didn’t match their qualifications for one reason or another – or the bank simply couldn’t fund your loan quickly enough to suit your needs, then you should work with a company that specializes in that kind of loan and charges suitably lower rates than most hard money lenders.


Contact Allie Mae with any questions regarding hard money loans.


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