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Hard Money Lender Overview

Hard Money Lender Overview

      A hard money lender, also known as a private lender, lends money to people who cannot get a mortgage from traditional lenders such as banks, mortgage banks, mortgage brokers or credit unions.  A hard money borrower may have poor credit (credit score below 580), a limited employment history, be self-employed or have insufficient income to qualify for a mortgage with a traditional lender.  The interest rate on a hard money mortgage is typically 4.0% - 7.0% higher than the interest rate on a normal mortgage, depending on your credit score and type of mortgage among other factors.  Additionally, hard money mortgages have higher closing costs and lenders may charge two-to-three points in processing fees.  One point equals 1.0% of the mortgage amount so if a hard money lender charges three points on a $100,000 mortgage, the borrower pays $3,000 in lender fees in addition to other closing costs.

      With a higher interest rate and fees, you may ask why someone would use a hard money lender for a mortgage?  In some cases a borrower may use the proceeds from a hard money refinancing to pay off credit card or other debt that has an even higher interest rate.  In other cases borrowers with poor credit or who lack other mortgage lending options will use a hard money mortgage to purchase a property and then refinance the mortgage within one-to-two years when their credit or financial profile improves.  Another common use of hard money mortgages is to finance house flipping where an investor purchases, renovates and then quickly sells a property.  House flippers obtain short-term bridge loans from hard money lenders and then pay-off the loans after the property is remodeled and sold, typically within one-to-two years.

      Hard money lenders typically require a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 70% or less, which protects them in case the borrower defaults on the loan.  Rather than hiring a professional appraiser, hard money lenders typically conduct their own appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property used to calculate the LTV ratio.  The fair market value used by the hard money lender may be lower than the property value determined by a professional appraiser.  A lower fair market property value means a lower LTV ratio for the borrower.

      Hard money lenders may allow higher borrower debt-to-income ratios, which means the borrower may qualify for a larger loan amount but the lender must demonstrate that the borrower can repay the mortgage.

      Hard money mortgages can be structured as short-term loans with two-to-three year terms (also known as a bridge loan).  Short-term hard money mortgages are typically interest only loans with a balloon payment for the full mortgage amount due at the end of the loan.  Hard money mortgages can also be structured as 10/30 or 15/30 mortgages where the interest rate is fixed for the first ten or fifteen years of the mortgage and the loan balance is due paid in full after 10 or 15 years.  During the first 10 or 15 years of a 10/30 or 15/30 mortgage, respectively, the borrower pays a monthly mortgage payment that includes both principal and interest.  Hard money loans typically require the borrower to pay a pre-payment penalty if the mortgage is paid in full before a specified time period which is generally six months for loans with shorter terms (one-to-three years) and five years for mortgages with longer terms (10/30 and 15/30 loans).

      New mortgage rules and regulations have reduced the number of hard money lenders and you typically have to search for smaller, local lenders that offer hard money programs.  If you are contacting a hard money lender it likely means that you have no other mortgage options but that does not mean that lenders should exploit you.  Just like with all mortgages, when you are shopping for a hard money mortgage be sure to compare proposals from three-to-four lenders and select the mortgage that is right for you.

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      Points: Fees you are willing to pay in order to get a lower interest rate. The number of points refers to the percentage of the loan amount that you would pay. For example, "2 points" means a charge of 2% of the loan amount.
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      Principal & Interest: A periodic payment, usually paid monthly, that includes the interest charges for the period plus an amount applied to the reduction of the principal balance.
      Mortgage Insurance More Info
      Mortgage Insurance: The monthly cost for a policy that protects the lender in case you’re unable to repay the full amount of the loan. It is typically required for loans that have a loan-to-value ratio between 80% to 100%.
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      Property Tax: (Also called "Real Estate Tax.") Property taxes are government assessments on real estate property. With mortgage financing, the local, county or state tax assessment on real estate property is considered part of the monthly housing obligation and typically collected and set aside by the lender ...
      Homeowner Insurance More Info
      Homeowner Insurance: or also commonly called hazard insurance, is the type of property insurance that covers private homes. It is an insurance policy that combines various personal insurance protections, which can include losses occurring to one’s home, its contents, loss of its use, or loss of other personal possessions of the homeowner, as well as liability insurance for accidents that may happen at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory.lender ...
      Homeowner Association Fee More Info
      Homeowner Association fee: (HOA) fees are funds that are collected from homeowners in a condominium complex to obtain the income needed to pay (typically) for master insurance, exterior and interior (as appropriate) maintenance, landscaping, water, sewer, and garbage costs.
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      Points More Info
      Points Fees you are willing to pay in order to get a lower interest rate. The number of points refers to the percentage of the loan amount that you would pay. For example, "2 points" means a charge of 2% of the loan amount.
      Origination Fee More Info
      Origination Charge: A loan origination charge is a fee charged by the lender for evaluating, processing, and closing the loan.
      Credit Report Fee More Info
      Credit Report Fee: Fee charged to obtain an applicant’s credit history prepared by one or all of the three major credit bureaus. Used by lender to determine the borrower’s creditworthiness.
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      Tax Service Fee: A fee charged by the lender to cover the cost of retaining a tax service agency. These agencies monitor the property tax payments on the property and report the results to the lender.
      Processing Fee More Info
      Processing Fee: A processing fee is a charge by the lender for clerical items associated with the loan. Examples of processing include loan set up, organization of loan conditions for underwriting, and preparing required disclosures for the borrower.
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      Underwriting Fee: A fee charged by the lender to verify information on the loan application, authenticate the property’s value, and perform a risk analysis on the overall loan package.
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      Wire Transfer Fee: In most cases lenders wire funds to escrow companies to fund a loan. Commercial banks that perform this function will charge the lender so the fee is generally passed on to the borrower.
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      FHA Upfront Premium More Info
      FHA Upfront Premium: A fee paid in cash at the close of escrow or more commonly it is financed into the loan. These premiums are pooled together by the FHA and are used to insure the risk of borrower default on FHA loans. FHA upfront premiums are prorated over a five year period, meaning should the homeowner refinance or sell during the first five years of the loan, they are entitled to a partial refund of the FHA upfront premium paid at loan inception.
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      Other fees could be either additional Administrative Fees that a lender charges or it could be a Flat Fee to cover all lender charges such as: (Origination Fees, Points, Underwriting and Processing Fees, Credit Reports and Tax Service Fees)

      The flat fee does not include prepaid items and third party costs such as appraisal fees, recording fees, prepaid interest, property & transfer taxes, homeowners insurance, borrower’s attorney’s fees, private mortgage insurance premiums (if applicable), survey costs, title insurance and related services.

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