Difficult to come buy and carrying a high price, hard money loans are the last resort for those who can afford it.
Let's start with a quick comparison of conventional loans to hard money loans to create a distinction up front.
Conventional loans are the tool of most home buyers. Lending institutions loan money to the buyer based on credit history and income. Hard money loans are less dependent on credit score and revolve around assets, instead. There should be no confusion that one is a substitute for the other. When buying a house there are many choices in loan options, but the choice between conventional or hard money is not one of them. Hard money loans are for unique, often distressed situations.
Hard money comes from private investors who can take the time to assess a borrower's entire situation, in a way that traditional lenders cannot. The private investor understands that a few missed payments resulting from something like loss of employment, does not mean the buyer cannot repay his loan. This is a perfect scenario of when hard money works. When the homeowner has fallen so far behind on his mortgage that he cannot catch up even though he has gone back to work and resume payments, the private investor can come in, provide hard money to pay original mortgage off, offering the borrower a chance to start fresh and preserve his credit. Soon the damages of the missed house payments are repaired on his credit report and he can refinance in a traditional manner.
The reason for refinancing as quickly as possible is that hard money loans carry stiff terms. Interests rates average between 10% and 18% making it a costly option, albeit a valuable one.
Another motivation to use hard money which is relevant in markets driven by foreclosures is rehab purchases. Investors find a great property to renovate quickly for profit and they want the loan fast because there is already a buyer for the house when it's done. The hard money loan is available much quicker and without the red tape of a traditional loan.
Don't be confused, though, hard money loans are not a simple alternative for those with poor credit. Even private investors aren't interested in a borrower with a history of bankruptcy or non payment. In addition, the closing costs on a hard money loan must be paid up front. These fees could be a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand, making the hard money loan a non choice for most borrowers in distressed situations.
Hard money loans are difficult to come by. The loan to value rate is a relatively low 50 to 75%. Hard money lenders like to only finance properties that are nearby them in areas they are familiar and comfortable with so they can monitor the property. Be wary of a hard money lender who makes things look too easy and shiny, as there are individuals who prey on homeowners and set up situations that guarantee failure so they can seize the house and profit from its sale.
If you fit into one of the unique scenarios that would benefit from a hard loan, do your research before signing any papers. Get recommendations on the private lender when you can. With no bank regulations on private lending the only one who can separate a legitimate lender from a loan shark is you.
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