Hard money loans are an alternative form of getting money that many people are unaware of. When you need a loan in a hurry and are shunned by your bank or credit union because of your low credit or for other reasons, hard money lenders may lend you the required sum for as long as 10 years (or longer depending on circumstances).
Investing in real estate can be a lucrative avenue for building wealth, and it’s also an effective way to inject some diversity into your portfolio. While real estate investment trusts (REITs) and real estate crowdfunding allow you to invest passively, some investors may prefer to own property directly. If you’re not comfortable parting with a substantial amount of cash up front to purchase real estate, a hard money loan may be the answer. While this type of loan has advantages over traditional financing, you should be aware of some potential downsides.
You also might want to check out this tutorial for an in-depth look at the topic: Exploring Real Estate Investments.
How Hard Money Loans Work
Hard money loans, sometimes referred to as bridge loans, are short-term lending instruments that real estate investors can use to finance an investment project. This type of loan is often a tool for house flippers or real estate developers whose goal is to renovate or develop a property, then sell it for a profit. Hard money loans are issued by private lenders rather than mainstream financial institutionssuch as banks.
Unlike traditional bank loans, the ability to obtain hard money financing isn’t determined by the borrower’s creditworthiness. Instead, hard money lenders use the value of the property itself in determining whether to make the loan. Specifically, lenders focus on the “after repair value,” or ARV, which is an estimate of what the property will be worth once the renovation or development phase is complete. (For more on estimating an investment property’s value, see How to Value a Real Estate Investment Property.)
There are several good reasons to consider getting a hard money loan instead of a conventional mortgage from a bank. Here are the main benefits this lending option offers to investors:
- Convenience – Applying for a mortgage is time-consuming, particularly thanks to new regulations on mortgage lending implemented as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. It can take months to close on a loan, which puts investors at risk of losing out on a particular investment property. With a hard money loan, it’s possible to get funding in a matter of weeks. That’s important if you’re funding a large-scale development project and can’t afford deviations from the timeline to completion.