Tag Archive for: Hard Money

When NOT To Use Hard Money For Real Estate Investing

Every form of leverage has its time and place. Here’s when not to use hard money.

You need all kinds of leverage as a real estate investor. Different investment problems will call for different kinds of debt solutions.

Hard money, banks, private equity, and OPM all have their time and place. However, there are times when certain lending methods just aren’t smart.

Hard money has a lot of important uses, but when should you not use hard money?

1. When It Costs More

The main time when not to use hard money is whenever it’s the more expensive option.

You get into real estate to make money. Saving money on the leverage for a deal is a top priority.

Hard money is one of the most expensive forms of leverage. If using hard money costs you more than any other lending option, that’s your first sign not to use hard money.

When Is Hard Money More Expensive?

Private equity funds and hard money lenders typically have around the same pricing. The real gap comes when you compare bank loans to hard money.

In a previous article about when you should use hard money, we went over an ideal situation for hard money. In this example, the speed of a hard money loan can get you such a good deal on a property that you wind up saving money.

However, that doesn’t always happen. The cost of the property might not change whether you have a hard money loan or bank loan. You might have plenty of time to wait for the cheaper but slower loan from the bank. In those cases, you almost always should not use hard money.

The interest rate and origination fee for hard money will almost always make it the more expensive loan. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a hard money loan vs bank loan for the same property.

As you can see, when all else is equal, a hard money loan would cost you over $9,000 more.

Always, always go with the cheapest source of funds. In typical situations, bank loans and OPM will be cheaper than hard money or private equity.

2. When You Have Time

If speed isn’t a factor in getting a good deal, that’s a sign when not to use hard money.

Sometimes, speed at closing can mean the difference between getting a property and not getting it. Or, closing fastest could mean saving tens of thousands of dollars on a deal. Hard money is a good option then.

However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes a seller is willing to wait several weeks for a bank loan to clear in order to take a higher bid.

If time isn’t a consideration, then you probably shouldn’t use hard money.

3. When You Have Real OPM

OPM is money you get from real people you know. If OPM is available to you, you should always use it instead of hard money.

This form of leverage combines the speed and flexibility of a hard money lender with the price (or cheaper) of a bank loan.

If you can source and secure an OPM loan for a project, then there’s usually no reason to get hard money.

4. When You Already Have Money

It’s never smart to use a hard money loan when you already have cheaper funds available – especially when you have cash.

There’s no reason to pay a 9% interest rate when you could pay with a 0% rate, or use a cheaper line of credit like a HELOC.

A time when not to use hard money is when you have an equally flexible funding source that costs way less. In general, when you have cash available, stay away from leverage at all.

How Else Do I Know When Not to Use Hard Money?

What’s the right leverage for you? Are you doing it right? Are you using the best funds for your project?

Join our weekly call-in here, every Thursday at 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM MST to find out! Bring a specific question about a deal, and we can talk through the best option for you.

Happy Investing.

What Is the Best Real Estate Loan For Investing?

10 things to look for to find the best real estate loan for your investing.

You can get confused fast with real estate funding. 

What’s the difference between hard money and private money? Institutional lenders and bank lenders? And what even is OPM?

Most importantly – how do you know which lending option is best for you?

Our goal is to make sure you use the correct leverage for your real estate project:

  • What will fit your project?
  • What will be the most profitable for you?

Realistically, you need a little bit of everything.

Let’s go through the nuances of each leverage type, so you know the best real estate loan for your investments. Here are 10 qualities of real estate leverage to consider.

1. Speed

In real estate investing, most of your deals come down to speed. If you can close faster than another bidder, you can get the property – even if the other person offered more money.

Typically, the fastest lending options will be hard money and real OPM. 

OPM is using real people’s money, from family, friends, or anyone with money to lend. If you build a relationship with the right OPM lenders, this can be your fastest funding option. OPM can be one phone call and bank transfer away.

Although more expensive, hard money lenders can save you money in the long run with the savings you get from closing quickly on wholesale properties. Hard money lenders can potentially get you money within days (sometimes quicker).

Institutional lenders are fairly quick, typically taking two or three weeks, sometimes four.

Banks are usually the slowest at four or more weeks (unless you already have a line of credit set up, like a HELOC).

2. Credit Score

Credit is a major factor in the loan process. Requirements for credit scores have gone up over the last few months as money tightens. 

Institutions and banks have strict credit score requirements. The target for acceptable credit is constantly moving. Currently, you’ll have a tough time finding any loans with a score lower than 680. The best loans are available to people with a 740 and above.

Hard money lenders will check credit to make sure you’re not defaulting. But your actual score doesn’t have much bearing on your ability to get a loan.

OPM lenders aren’t as concerned with your actual credit score. OPM requirements will vary from person to person. But as long as you’re responsible in protecting their money, you can get an OPM loan.

3. Experience

Have you been in business for 2 years? Have you done enough transactions?

The toughest on experience are banks and institutional lenders.

Institutional lenders typically require three to five transactions over a three-year period. They’ll still consider you if you have less experience than that, but they’ll need a higher down payment.

Banks are the strictest. They usually want you to have five completed projects in recent years, plus at least two years of tax history on investment properties.

Hard money and OPM are the easiest on experience.

Hard money lenders care that you have a profitable deal. OPM lenders care that they get a return on their money. Neither lender will be overly concerned with your experience level. They’re more understanding that “you gotta start somewhere.”

4. Income

What lenders are concerned with your debt ratio? 

Banks are the only lenders that are always concerned with your income. 

Institutions look at the money you have in the bank, but not necessarily what you have coming in as income.

Hard money might look at your tax returns, but it won’t make or break your loan.

5. Underwriting

How does each lender look at your whole file? What is their criteria, and is it similar from lender-to-lender?

Institutional lenders have fairly consistent underwriting. They all basically require experience, 10 – 20% down, etc.

The other three types of lenders vary drastically.

Banks will always have some sort of requirements. But it’s different between large banks and small banks. Local banks will always be more interested in lending to investors.

Hard money and OPM both vary, too. You have to get to know the lenders in your area to get a feel for their requirements.

6. Flexibility

What if you need a loan for a rural property? Or what if some other unique situation pops up? Which lenders can be flexible with that.

Institutions and banks are the most fixed in what they offer. Institutional lenders loan only within MSAs. If a property is outside of city limits, they won’t offer any loans. Similarly, banks typically only lend within their footprint. You’ll have to talk to banks near you to learn those service areas.

Of course, hard money and OPM are more flexible with locations, funding plans, and more.

7. Pricing

Every loan has a cost.

Bank loans have a lot of limitations, but this is where they shine. Interest rates and origination fees will almost always be lowest at banks. Interest rates average around 5.5 – 6%, and fees are around 1 – 1.5 points.

OPM is also pretty cheap, and more flexible than banks. Your interest rate will depend on your lender, but there are usually little to no points with real OPM.

Institutional and hard money lenders will be the most expensive, with interest rates around 10 – 12% and fees at 2 – 3 points.

8. Verified Funds

It makes sense that lenders want to know that you’ll have enough money to pay them back. But lenders go about verifying funds differently.

Institutions and banks typically require two months of bank statements. They want to prove you have the money for the down payment, rehab costs, and any carry costs. These lenders emphasize how much money you have and where it came from. They often don’t allow gap funding.

Hard money and OPM lenders, however, are fine with gap funding. These lenders’ requirements vary, but generally, funds are not a major consideration.

9. Funds Available

How much money does the lender have to offer? Do they ever run out of money, or tell you you’ll have to wait a couple weeks before they have funds?

Typically, the places that have “unlimited” money are institutions and banks. Institutions are backed by Wall Street funds, and banks can always borrow from the Fed.

Hard money and OPM are a bit more limited. Hard money fund availability is based on how many investors they have. Real OPM is limited by the bank account of your lender. A downside of hard money and OPM is that money may run dry; there’s no guaranteed constant flow.

10. Multiple States

If you’re an investor who does deals in multiple states, who will be able to consistently help you? If you live in Oklahoma but invest in Texas, which lender can you count on?

Typically, institutions are your best bet for multi-state investments. If you need someone to grow with you state-to-state, this is your main option.

Many hard money lenders are local, and they focus their investments in a single community. Similarly, banks only lend within their region.

OPM’s multi-state lending ability depends on the client, but there is flexibility.

So What Is the Best Real Estate Loan?

All in all, there is no “best” real estate loan. Remember, you need all types of leverage for a flexible, lucrative investment career.

Each loan has its limitations and perks. Here’s a quick overview of each type of real estate loan.

More Info on Real Estate Loans

If you’re left with questions about the best leverage option for you, we’re here to help.

Email us at Mike@HardMoneyMike.com with questions about your deal.

Or join our weekly call here, every Thursday from 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM MST.

Text: "How Much $$$ For Gap Funding?"

How to Calculate Gap Funding

When your loan doesn’t cover 100% of your project, how do you calculate gap funding?

How much do you need for gap funding? It depends on each project.

Calculating Gap Funding Needed for a Project

The way to figure out the gaps in your project is simple:

(Cost of Property + Rehab Costs) – Hard Money Loan Amount = Gap Funding Amount Needed

If the property costs $200,000, but your lender gives $140,000, there’s a $60,000 gap you’ll need to cover. You can:

  1. Pay the $60,000 out-of-pocket

Or

  1. Bring in a gap lender, enabling you to buy the property with 100% financing. You would likely use part of this loan for the down payment and part for construction costs.

How to Calculate Construction Costs

Most hard money lenders use the ARV (anticipated retail value) rather than LTV (loan in relation to the current sale value).

In case your loan is for LTV only and doesn’t take into account construction costs, here’s how you would calculate those costs for an undermarket home:

ARV  –  Actual Cost of Property  =  Maximum Construction Budget

It’s important for you to work these numbers and know your budget up-front. Keep in mind, it’s always better to err on the generous side with your numbers. You want to be sure you can get done on-time and within the budget allotted by your hard money and gap lenders.

How much you’ll spend on construction is important when you calculate gap funding.

Read the full article here.

Watch the video here:

Text: "When to Use Hard Money"

5 Times You Should Use Hard Money for Your Real Estate Investments

Here are 5 ways to use hard money right as a real estate investor.

Real estate investing is all about making profit.

And sometimes, to make profit, you need to use hard money loans.

When is hard money your best option in real estate investing? Let’s look at 5 situations where you should use hard money to fuel your investments.

1. Using Hard Money for Speed

The number one way hard money makes you money in real estate investing is how fast they are.

Look at a real example from one of our clients.

He was able to buy a property in Colorado at a $30,000 discount.

Five other people were bidding as high as $330,000 on the property.

But our client was able to close in less than a week, so the sellers accepted his bid of $300,000.

How Much Does a Hard Money Loan Cost?

People can get tripped up with the cost of hard money. Wouldn’t the price of the loan leave our client at a loss here? Let’s compare his hard money loan on this deal to his competitors with a bank loan.

For hard money, he spent $7,500 on origination. A bank loan would have cost $4,500.

Six months’ worth of interest on the hard money loan adds up to $15,000. The same time on a bank loan would accrue $9,900 of interest.

Appraisal underwriting, and processing fees were lower with hard money at $984 (vs $1500 with the bank.)

Overall, our client did pay a lot more for the loan itself using hard money. His hard money loan cost $23,484, and a bank loan would have cost $15,525. That’s an extra cost of $7,959 to use hard money.

Can You Save Money by Using Hard Money for Real Estate?

Despite seeming more expensive, hard money still gave this investor a discount. Why? Hard money enabled him to close fast, so he got a better deal on purchase price.

What was the total cost of hard money? The discounted price of the property ($300,000) plus the hard money loan costs equals $323,484. 

What about the bank loan? The home price of $330,000 plus bank loan costs totals $345,525.

This is a savings of $22,041. Just for closing fast with hard money rather than using the cheaper but slower bank loan.

Using hard money for speed works even when the discount is smaller.

Let’s say our client had bid only 10,000 less than the other investors. He still would’ve saved $1,191 up front on the deal.

Hard Money Savings without a Purchase Price Discount

The option of buying real estate with bank loans is often cheaper. However, in many investment situations, using a bank loan is not a viable option.

If you have to wait 4 weeks to clear your bank loan, but only 4 days for a hard money loan… that becomes the difference between closing on the property or not.

Ultimately, even if using hard money doesn’t get you the lowest price, you still save money in the long run. If the speed of a hard money loan gets you a property, you will still come out on top.

Buying then selling a profitable fix-and-flip will always make more money than never buying and never selling.

2. Use Hard Money if You Have Low Credit

Institutional lenders, private equity, and banks have credit score minimums. If you don’t have a high enough score, you don’t get a loan.

Hard money lenders, on the other hand, are typically not credit-score-driven. Yes, they’ll probably look at your credit, but they won’t base your loan on it.

Real estate investors can have low credit scores for many reasons:

  • Usage – You put your flip rehab costs on credit cards
  • Thin Credit – You have few lines of credit, or young lines of credit
  • One-time Event – You had good credit, then life happened and your score temporarily dipped.

Hard money lenders understand that these issues are not always a reflection of your ability to pay back loans. 

That’s why hard money lenders don’t worry about your credit score, just your credit.

Do you have a history of late payments? Are you defaulting? That will negatively affect you with a hard money lender. 

If you are responsible with credit, but have a score banks won’t accept, a hard money lender will be a good option.

3. Using Hard Money Because It’s Flexible

Sometimes you need an outside-of-the-box lender.

  • Unique Properties – If you have a house or area that’s unique (maybe a dome house, an old manufacturer, etc.), hard money lenders will give you more options.
  • Rural Areas – Most local banks and large hard money lenders don’t lend outside of MSAs. Traditional lenders might not cover thirty miles outside of an urban area, but many small hard money lenders will.
  • Cross Liens – Hard money lenders have more flexibility putting a cross lien on another property. This is useful if you don’t have a lot of money to put down, but do have another property with a lot of equity.
  • Gap funding – Sometimes a mortgage doesn’t quite cover all the costs of your project. Hard money can fill in those gaps.
  • Lot splits – Splitting off a lot can be a headache with a traditional lender. A hard money lender is more flexible with the time it takes to get a survey and everything else prepared. This allows you to split off a lot, sell the house, and keep the lot.

4. Using Hard Money for BRRRRs

Hard money is crucial for successful BRRRRs.

With BRRRR (rental flips), you:

  • Buy undermarket valued properties
  • With a hard money loan
  • Then rate-and-term refinance into a longer-term loan.

If you want to get into BRRRR transactions (rental properties), you have to find a hard money lender or private lender who will loan you 75-80% of the after-repair value of the property you want to buy.

If you get a hard money loan to fund the purchase price and rehab up to 75-80% ARV, you can maximize your refinance. This saves you money, time, and interest.

5. Other Times to Use Hard Money

There are many other reasons real estate investors use hard money. Here are a few:

  • Banks limit you to 2-3 loans. If you’ve maxed out those lenders, hard money can help.
  • Hard money can work as a bridge loan. It covers the down payment of your next property until your other bank-funded property sells.
  • You can keep a project off your credit. Hard money typically doesn’t show up on your credit report.
  • Investment beginners might need help with their first couple projects started before banks will lend to them.
  • Complete a started project. If you end up with a property mid-flip, many banks won’t lend for it. But a hard money lender can easily provide a gap loan to finish the rehab.
  • Hard money has the flexibility to let you come in with other funding sources. (If you want to put repair costs on a credit card, want to use an OPM lender, etc.).

How to Use Hard Money for Real Estate

Want to learn more about real estate funding? Wondering if a hard money loan might be right for your investment? 

Email us your questions anytime at Mike@HardMoneyMike.com

Or join our weekly Leverage Up call here, every Thursday from 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM (MST).

Text: "Gap Funding & Hard Money How They Work Together"

Gap Funding and Hard Money – How the Real Estate Lending Options Work Together

How do gap funding and hard money go together?

As we move toward a recession, your money as a real estate investor will tighten. Lenders who used to give you 90% of the value of a property will now only offer 80% or less.

Where will you come up with that extra 20% or more? Is real estate in a recession only for those of us with hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around?

Not at all. Lenders tightening only means that gap funding will become more important for real estate investors.

Let’s look at what gap funding is, how to apply it to your upcoming purchases, and how it integrates with a hard money loan.

What Is Gap Funding?

What does “gap funding” mean in the real estate world?

Gap Funding Definition

Gap funding is the money you bring in from another source to fill any gap left between the lender and the project costs.

If a lender offers you 70% of the LTV on a property, gap funding is how you fill in the remaining 30%. Usually gap funding is secured, although unsecured gap funding is possible. 

A “secured” loan means that the debt is backed by a piece of collateral. In a typical gap funding scenario, the loan is secured by the property being purchased.

For the most part, you won’t be able to find a gap lender at an institution like you can a bank lender. Instead, gap lenders are family members, friends, or someone you know.

OPM vs Gap Funding

You can use a couple gap funding terms interchangeably:

  • gap funding
  • gap lending
  • OPM (other people’s money)
  • real people’s money

All of these terms get at the same concept. It’s money, not from you and not from an institutional lender, that covers whatever costs of an investment property that your lender won’t fund.

OPM can cover up to 100% of a deal, but for now, we’ll be talking about it in a strictly gap funding sense. These are loans that fill in the holes of a project that a mortgage or hard money loan wouldn’t cover.

Gap Funding for Flips

During a time when lenders are offering less money up-front for investment deals, you might need more money to fill in the gaps on your fix-and-flip projects.

Here are a few phases where you might need gap funding on your project.

Down Payments

Hard money lenders require at least 10% as a down payment. This is a very common use for gap funding.

If you use gap funding for your down payment, you’ll need to find out right away whether or not your hard money lender will accept a secured gap loan on the property.

Construction Costs

Another way to use gap funding for flips is for construction costs – rehab, repair, or anything necessary to bring the house up to the ARV and onto the market. These expenses can rack up fast, and they may not be completely covered by the main loan for the flip.

Carry Costs

Some investors will only use gap funding for the carry costs during their flip. 

The lender will pay the mortgage payment, the insurance, or whatever other monthly costs are required during the project. Having a gap lender for carry costs can smooth out a fix-and-flip experience.

The Reach of Gap Funding for Fix-and-Flips

It’s possible to coordinate with your gap lenders to cover all three of these additional costs. This is a common way investors successfully finish fix-and-flips with zero money down.

You can use gap funding however you need, as long as both the hard money lender and the gap lender agree that the loan fits their criteria. 

Not all hard money lenders allow you to secure your gap loan with a lien on the property you’re closing on. And not all gap lenders will loan to you unsecured.

Gap Funding for BRRRR

Gap funding is also used for BRRRRs, and works much like fix-and-flips. The biggest differences happen at closing.

Gap Funding Process During BRRRRs

BRRRR gap funding can be used the same way as a fix and flip: down payment, construction, or carry costs.

For BRRRR though, you need to close the gap funding loan on the same day as closing. You’ll also need to be sure you close the gap funding at the title company, with your lender. So you’ll need to know in advance that your hard money lender allows gap funding with a lien on the property.

Protecting Your BRRRR Refinance While Using Gap Funding

If you close your gap loan too late or incorrectly, your long-term lender can consider your refinance cash-out, not rate-and-term. This will lower the LTV on your refinance.

It’s important to get the money for your loan back in the refinance. In a good BRRRR transaction, you walk away with a house that’s cash-flowing and little to no money out of your pocket.

How to Calculate Gap Funding

How do you calculate what you’ll need for gap funding? It depends on each project.

Calculating Gap Funding Needed for a Project

The way to figure out the gaps in your project is simple:

(Cost of Property + Rehab Costs) – Hard Money Loan Amount = Gap Funding Amount Needed

If the property costs $200,000, but your lender gives $140,000, there’s a $60,000 gap you’ll need to cover. You can:

  1. Pay the $60,000 out-of-pocket

Or

  1. Bring in a gap lender, enabling you to buy the property with 100% financing. You would likely use part of this loan for the down payment and part for construction costs.

How to Calculate Construction Costs

Most hard money lenders use the ARV (anticipated retail value) rather than LTV (loan in relation to the current sale value).

In case your loan is for LTV only and doesn’t take into account construction costs, here’s how you would calculate those costs for an undermarket home:

ARV  –  Actual Cost of Property  =  Maximum Construction Budget

It’s important for you to work these numbers and know your budget up-front. Keep in mind, it’s always better to err on the generous side with your numbers. You want to be sure you can get done on-time and within the budget allotted by your hard money and gap lenders.

Ways to Secure a Gap Loan

So when you hear the advice to “secure” your gap loan, what does that mean? How do you secure a gap loan? And why?

Securing with Two Lenders

Securing your loan involves both your hard money lender and your gap lender.

Your friend or family member is giving you a fairly large chunk of money. They’ll want to know how you’ll secure it for them. 

Securing your gap lender’s loan involves putting a lien on the property. Does your hard money lender allow this? Not all lenders will.

If Your Hard Money Lender Doesn’t Allow a Lien

If your hard money lender does not allow a lien on the property, you’ll have to secure the loan with a different property.

You could either put the lien on your own home, or you could use another rental or investment property.

If They Do Allow a Lien

If your hard money lender does allow a lien on the property to secure a gap loan, it’s best to do during closing with the mortgage and deed. This way title records it, and you have evidence for your gap funder that it’s recorded.

Many gap lenders – especially if they’re family or friends – won’t be educated enough about the real estate world to understand how to secure  their money. As the investor, it’s your responsibility to keep your lenders’ money safe.

Securing the Loan

No matter which property has the lien, you’ll have to take a few important steps to secure the gap loan. 

You’ll need a note – a promissory note between you and your gap lender – and a lien, either a mortgage or a deed of trust. And you’ll have to record all this with the county.

To make sure the loan is concerned, be sure to check all these boxes. It’s important to do this thoroughly so your lender will:

  • Get their money back
  • Feel comfortable with the deal
  • Want to lend to you again
  • Recommend you to their network

For More Help on Gap Funding and Hard Money

Gap funding and hard money are big, important concepts that work together for real estate investors.

If you’re left with questions, you can reach out to us at info@hardmoneymike.com, on Facebook, or at HardMoneyMike.com. 

We’re more than happy to answer specific questions on specific deals.

You can also check out these videos on gap funding and OPM.

Happy Investing.

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What Is the Meaning of BRRRR?

BRRRR winners understand the meaning of BRRRR and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t mean.

We aren’t just talking about the literal meaning: Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat. We’re talking about understanding the strategy behind the BRRRR method. Successful investors understand the money side of these investments.

Types of Properties that Win at BRRRR

Foundationally, BRRRR means buying undervalued properties.

These properties have a lot of rehab needed, causing them to be valued much lower than other homes in the area. These houses are problems for someone else but opportunities for you. You can fix them up and get them in your rental pool.

We often see people who want to use the BRRRR strategy, but they buy their properties at 90% or 95% of the ARV. They buy close to retail price, and once they put the time, money, and effort into fixing up the property… They can’t even really use BRRRR.

BRRRR’s Two-Loan Strategy

BRRRR means using a two-loan strategy. At the beginning of the project, closing with a hard money bridge loan. At the end of the project, refinancing a traditional loan.

Using this strategy on an undermarket purchase captures the equity of the home to use to your advantage. If you buy a property too close to its ARV, the whole system falls apart and you lose your refinancing power.

To be successful with this two-loan plan, you have to search for undermarket properties you can get for 75% or less of the ARV. With this 75% rule, you can complete a BRRRR project with little or no money out-of-pocket.

Buying undermarket and using two strategic loans is the meaning behind BRRRR that winners fully grasp. But there’s much more to it.

What should you really look for when you buy for BRRRR?

Read the full article on BRRRR meaning here.

Watch the video here:

Text: "Grow Your Business with Bridge Loans & Gap Funding"

Why Gap Funding and Bridge Loans Will Grow Your Real Estate Business

The difference between gap funding and bridge loans – and why it matters to your real estate investments.

Gap funding, bridge loans – they sure sound similar. What’s the difference? How are each of these types of funding going to improve your business?

Both gap funding and bridge loans have the power to smooth out your real estate career and grow it to new heights.

Here’s what you’ll need to know.

Bridge Loans vs Hard Money Loans

Some lenders will use these terms interchangeably. After all, they are similar concepts, and lingo varies from lender to lender. But it’s important to know the actual definitions so you understand these terms if a lender uses them this way.

Though similar, there are differences to know in a bridge loan vs hard money loan.

What is a Bridge Loan Used For?

A bridge loan is a very short-term loan – even shorter than the typical hard money loan. It helps you bridge the space between one project and another.

Let’s say you’re just finishing up a flip. The house is on the market, buyers are showing interest, and now you’d like to get another property bought so you can jump right in to your next flip.

Typically, you use the money from selling one property to buy the next one. But if you want to get that next property started before the current one is sold? That’s where a bridge loan comes in.

A true bridge loan covers up that gap between projects. It gives you the money to close on a new property before the first one is completely sold.

A bridge loan lets you overlap from an old project to a new one.

How is a Bridge Loan Different from a Hard Money Loan?

A hard money loan is longer and broader than a bridge loan.

  • The average bridge loan lasts 30 to 45 days. Hard money loans can last up to a year or longer. 
  • Bridge loans get you from one property to the next. Hard money focuses more on a single project. 
  • Bridge loans are paid off when your old property sells. Hard money loans are paid off when you refinance or sell the property the loan was originally for.
  • A bridge loan is used as temporary funds to close on a house. A hard money loan can be used as a more general budget for a purchase. Many come with the option for escrows to fix up the property over time.

Certain lenders do pure bridge loans, while others lump it all under “hard money.” Keep in mind as you’re learning the real estate investment game that bridge loans vs hard money loans serve different purposes.

3 Ways to Use a Hard Money Bridge Loan

Some lenders might talk about hard money and bridge loans as the same – that’s okay. But it will benefit you to know the particular uses for bridge loans.

The basics of a bridge loan are that they’re used to bridge you from one project to the next. Then you pay the loan off when the first property sells. 

1. Bridge Loans to Get from One Property to the Next

The most common use of bridge loans in the hard money space is to bridge you from one property to the next.

When you have a flipped property that’s almost complete – the work is done, it’s under contract, it’s almost sold – you might want to get started on your next project without waiting for the official close.

The problem is: How do you buy a new property without the money from selling the old one? A hard money bridge loan solves that problem.

A bridge loan allows you to use the property that’s about to be sold as collateral for a new loan for a new property. Once the first property sells, some of that money is used to pay off the bridge loan. Then you own the new property free and clear.

This way of using a bridge loan is especially useful if you have a lot of cash put into one property. You don’t have to wait to get that money back after selling to start on your next investment.

2. Bridge Loans to Cover a Down Payment on a New Property

You can use an advance of the equity on a current property as the down payment for the new property through a bridge loan.

Maybe you’re about to sell one property. And you’re able to get financing for your next one… Except you can’t cover the down payment. 

In this case, you’ll probably use a bridge loan in conjunction with a hard money loan. The hard money loan covers the property cost, and the bridge loan covers the remaining down payment cost. Then that bridge loan gets paid off when you sell the old property. 

3. Bridge Loans to Close Fast

Another way you could use a bridge loan is to close faster on a new property.

Maybe you plan on using more traditional financing through a bank, but the bank loan wouldn’t be ready in time. You can use a short-term bridge loan.

This loan bridges you from the closing to the refinance. A bridge lender will help you with the initial purchase. Then once your bank (or hard money) loan is completely ready – usually several weeks or a month later – that bank loan pays off the bridge loan.

Bridge Loans in the Hard Money World

Typically bridge loans are used for 3 situations in real estate investing:

  1. When you’re buying a new property and already have one listed for sale
  2. When you need to cover down payment on a new property
  3. When you find a great deal but your bank’s financing won’t be ready in time.

Gap Funding for Real Estate Investors

So, bridge loans are different from hard money loans. But where does gap funding fit into the mix for real estate investors?

Bridge loans do bridge “gaps” in your investments. But “gap funding” is something different.

Gap funding is the small amounts that investors need throughout the course of a project in addition to the bigger loan. Examples of common gap funding situations are:

  • Down payments
  • Contractors and other fix-up costs
  • Carry costs before renting or selling
  • Interest, insurance, and other payments not included in the original cost of the property.

A bank or hard money lender will be funding the majority of your project. And when you don’t have other properties, you can use a lien (like you would for a bridge loan). But without another property, you need gap funding to cover the little costs that slip through the cracks of your primary financing.

Gap funding for real estate investors can be a loan that’s anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. Whatever costs your primary loan and your own cash won’t cover will need to be filled by a gap lender.

Where Do You Find a Gap Lender?

Gap lenders aren’t exactly like hard money lenders. You can’t walk into a gap lending institution and ask for a loan. So where do you find a gap lender?

Who are Gap Lenders?

There are some hard-money-style lenders out there that focus on gap funding, but they’ll charge you a 12 – 20% interest rate. The best place to find reasonable gap funding is with ordinary people.

Traditionally, gap lenders are people you meet – family, friends, people in real estate groups, or anyone with money who wants to dip a toe into real estate investing. These people have a couple tens of thousands of dollars they’d like to make a better return on.

Half the people in real estate groups want to be real estate investors, but don’t want the burden of managing an entire project. Gap funding is secured with a lien against the property, so lending is safer than investing.

Gap lenders tend to have around $50,000 to $60,000 they’d like to put toward real estate. Not enough to do a full transaction, but perfect to fill the gaps your financing will leave on your flip.

Where Can You Go to Find Gap Lenders?

Get involved in the real estate community, and keep your eyes and ears open. Go to meet-ups. Talk to people with money. 

A lot of how to find gap lenders boils down to: How do you convince them to give you money? How do you set up the lending relationship?

If you have questions on how to find and approach gap funders, you can watch these videos, use our OPM checklist, or reach out at HardMoneyMike.com.

Where Do You Find a Hard Money Bridge Loan Lender?

How about bridge lenders? Does every hard money lender do bridge loans?

A lot of people use the term bridge loan interchangeably with gap funding or hard money, but a true bridge loan is slightly different. They’re shorter-term than a hard money loan, and they’re typically less expensive because of that. 

Which Hard Money Lenders Do Bridge Loans?

To find these quick, short loans, a small local lender, like Hard Money Mike, will be your best and fastest option. Smaller hard money lenders like working with investors who provide good, safe returns. Bridge loans do exactly that.

Bigger hard money lenders do bridge loans, too. But they may take up to four weeks to close, which often defeats the purpose of true bridge lending. 

You can also get bridge loans from some banks. Not big, national banks, but many local banks and credit unions who work with real estate investors may do bridge loans, too. Banks usually offer the cheapest bridge loans, but can take 3 – 4 weeks or longer.

Ask around to lenders you know to find out their pricing and see if their bridge loans are worth it. You can use our free loan optimizer to find out if you can get a good deal on bridge loans near you.

Where to Go From Here

The best deals in real estate investment close quickly. Gap funding and bridge loans are important tools to have in your belt so you can do this.

Gap funding and bridge loans are useful for beginner and experienced investors alike. They can enable you to work on multiple projects at once and increase cash flow.

There’s money in the money. If you understand the money side of real estate, your business rises to the next level.

We can always help with your real estate investment education.

Watch more about funding advice with these videos.

Email or message us anytime at HardMoneyMike.com.

Happy Investing.

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How Much Money Do I Need to Start Investing in Real Estate?

How much money should you have if you want to start investing in real estate? It all depends on the deal.

No Money Down Investments

We regularly help people start with no money for a project.

BRRRR rental properties work great for this. Investors can invest in them without putting any money into the property purchase or the flip.

Another way we frequently see people succeed with zero down is when they have really, really good deals. It’s a rare find, but if you do come across a property for sale for 60% or lower of the ARV, you can get 100% financing. Smaller, local hard money lenders will jump at the opportunity for such a great deal.

How Much Money Should I Normally Expect to Bring In to Start?

Traditionally, when you’re starting out investing, you’ll use either hard money loans or a bank finance. It depends on your credit score and the amount of money you’re able to bring into a deal.

When you’re going into these loans, it’s good to expect to pay between 10% to 20% of the total cost of the project out-of-pocket. This includes 10% to 20% of the property purchase and 10% to 20% of the fix-up costs.

As an example, say you have a $100,000 purchase that will require a $50,000 rehab budget. If you’re bringing in 20%, you’ll need $20,000 as down payment for the house, plus $10,000 to cover construction – so $30,000 total out-of-pocket to start.

What Will My Financing Depend On?

How much you as a new investor will need to bring into a deal will depend on several factors:

  • The kind of deal you find
  • Your qualifications – with or without real estate experience
  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • Your credit score

Hard money lenders tend to lend based on your deal. Banks tend to lend based on you. A higher credit score will give you better chances at bank loans. And banks love lending to those who don’t need money. So if you already have a lot of savings and income, you can get 100% financing. But the more you put in, the cheaper it’ll be.

Overall, you can get involved in real estate investing with no money, especially for rental projects. But if you really want to get a running start, you’ll need some money for your investments.

Read the full article here.

Watch the video here:

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How to Start Investing in Real Estate: Beginner’s Guide to Private Money

Where do you start with private money in real estate investing?

There are two pillars to successful real estate investing.

First, finding good, undermarket properties. And second, having the leverage to actually purchase those properties.

Private lending is the key to unlock that money side of investing. But when you’re just starting out, how do you get involved? 

How much money should you start with? How do you find the right loans for your situation?

Well, here’s your starting point:

How Much Money Do I Need to Start Investing in Real Estate?

How much money should you have if you want to start investing? It all depends on the deal.

No Money Down Investments

We regularly help people start with no money for a project. 

BRRRR rental properties work great for this. Investors can invest in them without putting any money into the property purchase or the flip.

Another way we frequently see people succeed with zero down is when they have really, really good deals. It’s a rare find, but if you do come across a property for sale for 60% or lower of the ARV, you can get 100% financing. Smaller, local hard money lenders will jump at the opportunity for such a great deal.

How Much Money Should I Normally Expect to Bring In?

Traditionally, when you’re starting out investing, you’ll use either hard money loans or a bank finance. It depends on your credit score and the amount of money you’re able to bring into a deal. 

When you’re going into these loans, it’s good to expect to pay between 10% to 20% of the total cost of the project out-of-pocket. This includes 10% to 20% of the property purchase and 10% to 20% of the fix-up costs.

As an example, say you have a $100,000 purchase that will require a $50,000 rehab budget. If you’re bringing in 20%, you’ll need $20,000 as down payment for the house, plus $10,000 to cover construction – so $30,000 total out-of-pocket to start.

What Will My Financing Depend On?

How much you as a new investor will need to bring into a deal will depend on several factors:

  • The kind of deal you find
  • Your qualifications – with or without real estate experience
  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • Your credit score

Hard money lenders tend to lend based on your deal. Banks tend to lend based on you. A higher credit score will give you better chances at bank loans. And banks love lending to those who don’t need money. So if you already have a lot of savings and income, you can get 100% financing. But the more you put in, the cheaper it’ll be.

Overall, you can get involved in real estate investing with no money, especially for rental projects. But if you really want to get a running start, you’ll need some money for your investments.

Where Can I Find Private Money Lenders?

We’re mostly focusing on private money lenders for beginner investors because that’s where you’ll naturally have to start.

The timeline of financing options for most investment careers goes:

Private Lending  →  Bank Financing  →  Cash

You’ll start with relying on private lenders and hard money. But you’ll be working your way toward less expensive methods of financing. As you gain experience, credit, and money, it gets easier to move toward cash and lower interest loans in your investment business.

So, people at the beginning of their real estate investment careers hard money lenders… But if you’re just starting out, you’re probably not sure where to find them.

Here are the basics for finding private money lenders:

1) Google

A simple Google search can help you find private lenders near you.

The majority of hard money lenders will be local investors or small companies lending in your area only. Google is a simple, reliable way to see who’s out there lending locally.

Read the Google reviews. You’ll feel more confident moving forward with a lender if you can see people who vouch for the company.

2) Ask Local Investors Online

Use resources like biggerpockets.com, connectedinvestors.com, or other online forums to learn from people in your area. See who they use, why they use them, and what some general costs are.

3) Meet-ups and Live Events

Talk to people in person. Chat with other investors to hear about their experiences with local lenders. Many events will give you the chance to meet those local lenders and get to know what they offer.

You’ll need a pool of options for money, so it’s good to know many companies and private individuals.

Communicate with banks, too. Even if you can’t get a bank loan right now, that’s the next step you’re working toward in your career. It’s never too early to build those connections.

Are Hard Money Lenders Safe?

A major question from people who are starting real estate investing is: Are hard money lenders safe? Are they just loan sharks who will take all the profits from my project?

Private Lending Business Model

Hard money is not built to be against you. Private lenders intend to: lend money, get it back, and get their interest. They only want a return on their investment; they don’t want to bleed you dry.

Granted, there is a potential for lenders to take advantage of you, and there are a small percentage of lenders like that out there.

Hard money lending is no different than any other business – there are good people in it and bad people. It’s your responsibility as an investor to be sure you’re working with good, safe people.

Finding Good, Safe Lenders

Just like anything else, it’s wise to shop around. The best ways to find good hard money lenders are:

  • Personal Experience
  • Asking about other people’s experience
  • Checking online reviews

You’ll be able to tell right away from other people’s experiences whether a lender is safe or not. You can even ask lenders for references of people who have closed with them in the past.

Doing your research should save you the trouble of trial and error with your local lenders.

Broaden Your Pool of Lenders

To successfully start in real estate investing, you’ll need to get a good list of lenders. Don’t be connected just to one. You’ll need them for different reasons, different deals, and different loans.

It’s good to have a lot of money options – something quick, something long-term, something with a lower rate, etc.

If you focus on building your base of lenders, you’ll feel safe. Spread your reliance over multiple lenders to be more confident in your real estate investing career.

What Are Private Lender Interest Rates?

You know you’ll have to buy the property, cover fix-up costs, and pay back the cost of the loan. But if you’re new to real estate investing, you also need to know what other costs will come with your loan. Like interest rates.

The biggest cost on your mind is probably: What interest rates do hard money lenders charge?

What’s a Typical Hard Money Interest Rate?

The rate depends on several factors, and interest rates will vary lender to lender.

Now, in July 2022, inflation is hitting, and the federal interest rates are rising. With these recent changes, you’ll find rates are between 9% and 11%. But just six months ago, interest rate averages where two percentage points less.

Always check on your local lenders’ rates. Especially at a time like this, they can change relatively quickly.

How Interest Works on a Hard Money Loan

We’ve had people come to us discouraged about interest rates – just because they misunderstood how interest works. 

For example, let’s say you need a loan for $800,000, but you only need it for three months. The lender gives you a 9% interest rate. Will you have to pay 9% of $800,000 for those three months? No, that’s not how interest works in hard money.

That percentage they give you is an annual rate. So in this case, you’d be paying that 9% in monthly chunks over the course of the year. If you only need that loan for three months, you’ll be paying closer to $18,000 in interest – much better than around $72,000, 9% of the full total.

Always make sure to shop around for the best deal. The more money you can put in, the lower your interest rate.

How Important Are Interest Rates?

Typically in real estate investing, it’s not just about the interest rate. It’s about how fast you can close.

We see speed make the difference for our clients all the time. Often, if someone can close a week or two earlier than other buyers, they get a better deal. 

In that case, interest rates become a non-factor. The bargain you can get on closing fast on a property can more than makes up for the interest charges.

Banks’ interest rates are generally 2% to 5% lower than private lenders. So if you can go to banks, you probably should for the better rate. But if you’re new to real estate investing, bank loans are typically out of reach, so hard money is the best way to start investing.

How Much Do Private Money Lenders Charge Overall?

Interest rates are just one of the costs to be aware of with hard money. With private lenders, there are two major costs to consider:

  • Interest rates
  • Fees and other charges

You’ll have to consider these two factors at the same time. Every lender is different. 

One company might offer a 14% interest rate but have low fees. Another may only charge 9.5% interest but their fees are much higher.

How do you calculate which loan will be the better deal for you? A simple way is to use this free loan optimizer tool. You can add in all the information from each lender, and this tool will help tell you which loan saves you the most money.

What Are the Other Costs Associated with Hard Money?

Fees can vary widely in the hard money world. There’s no standard; it’s up to each lender what they charge.

Origination Charge

The most common fee you’ll see is the origination charge. This is to guarantee profit for your lender or salesperson.

An origination fee is calculated as a percentage of the loan amount. It varies between 1 and 4 points. (A “point” is a “percentage.” So if you hear a lender say they charge 2 points for a fee, that’s 2%).

Other Fees

Some lenders have none of these fees, some have nearly all of them:

  • Processing charges
  • Underwriting fees
  • Appraisal charge
  • Legal fees
  • Title fees
  • Charges to set up an escrow
  • Charges to take draws on an escrow
  • And more.

The amounts vary widely. Some of these charges are a flat rate, and some are based on a percentage of the loan. One lender might have eight or nine of these fees, another may have just one or two.

How Do You Know Which Loan Is Best When You First Start Investing in Real Estate?

At the end of the day, you’ll have to find out what’s best for you. 

Don’t get too hung up on interest. Some people see lenders charge 10% when banks are charging 6%, and they assume it’s some sort of rip-off. Then they never use hard money, and their investment career suffers.

There’s no such thing as a loan that you don’t have to pay for. Every lender will have between one and eight additional costs besides simply paying the money back.

Sometimes people who start investing in real estate zoom in on a low interest rate from a private lender, then miss the bigger picture of fees and the length of the loan.

You’re responsible for the success of your loan. Most consumer loans will give you a detailed sheet with all the charges. Private lenders will give you that information, but it may not be in a nice little form.

This loan optimizer tool can help you understand which lender will offer the better deal for you.

Understanding these costs and loans will make or break your real estate deals. This side of investing where you’re spending money is the same side where you make money. 

Hard Money Mike Can Help You Start Investing in Real Estate

It’s a knack to find great properties, but it’s impossible to start investing in real estate if you can’t get the money to fuel those purchases.

We’ve done tens of thousands of transactions, billions of dollars in loans, in every kind of market, with any kind of deal. 

We don’t just lend our own loans. We help investors understand hard money, get help with bank loans, and be educated on the money side of real estate investment.

If you still feel unsure about the next steps to make your dream of real estate financial freedom a reality, reach out to us with your questions.

The people who understand the money side of investing are the ones who become more profitable, faster. Let’s make you one of those people.

Happy Investing.

Text reads "What Is Hard Money." Mike Bonn stands with cartoon coins surrounding him.

The Beginner’s Guide to Hard Money Loans

Hard money basics you need to know before real estate investing.

We’ve been in the hard money loan business for 20 years. Half the calls we receive are still beginner real estate investors trying to learn the money side of investing.

If that’s you, you’ve likely applied for, heard of, or thought about using hard money lenders. But maybe you don’t fully understand the private lending world yet. How does a hard money loan work? How much interest do private lenders charge? Do hard money lenders require a minimum credit score? Should you just wait until you qualify for better bank loans?

This guide will help answer:

  • What is hard money?
  • What do hard money lenders look for?
  • How is hard money different than other loans?
  • How do you qualify for hard money?
  • Is hard money better than banks?

Becoming hard money proficient will put you miles ahead as an investor. 

Ready to nail the basics?

What is Hard Money?

Hard money is a short-term loan designed for real estate investors. Hard money lenders focus on lending money on undervalued properties in need of rehab.

Hard money loans are short term – usually around six months or a year – and are designed to help buy properties to fix up.

While “easier” than traditional bank loans, hard money loans are also more expensive due to higher interest rates. Which brings us to the most important quality of hard money loans: they’re fast.

In real estate investing, discounted properties typically require fast-closing deals. Hard money loans can help you take advantage of prices while they’re low, and: 

  • Save on the property cost to begin with
  • Get more from selling or refinancing the property.

These savings more than cover the costs of a hard money loan for most investors.

The speed of hard money makes it valuable for newbie and seasoned investors alike. Hard money loans are made for real estate investors.

How Does A Hard Money Loan Work? 

What do hard money lenders look at? There are two main factors lenders of hard money consider.

Loan-to-Value Ratio

An important number a lender takes into account is the cost of the property. The ratio of the loan they offer and the cost is important for you to know.

Let’s say you have a property with a current appraisal of $200,000. Then you get a loan for $100,000. The loan is half of the value of the home, so your loan-to-value is 50%.

After Repair Value (ARV)

ARV, after repair value, is another important factor hard money lenders consider. The properties targeted by real estate investors are undervalued. They need work to be brought up to the standards of the surrounding community.

So, lenders look at not only the current value of the house, but also the future value of the house, after it’s all fixed up.

Many hard money loans are based on after repair value rather than loan-to-value. Your lender might offer you up to 75% – not of what you’re buying it for, but what you could sell it for by the end. 

What Does ARV Cover?

A key factor to ARV is that lenders will lend not only for the initial purchase, but for the fix-up costs. 

Many lenders will put money aside in escrows to use throughout the project to pay contractors and cover other renovation costs. 

If your loan considers ARV, it’s possible for you, with ZERO money down, to:

  • Buy a property.
  • Fix it up.
  • Either sell it (fix-and-flip) or refinance it (BRRRR).

After selling or refinancing, you use that money to pay the loan back.

Hard money is designed to build value into real estate. Understanding the role of the after repair value will help you immensely in your hard money investments.

How Is Hard Money Different from Other Loans?

Interest rates on hard money are between 2-5% higher than what you’ll find at banks. You can expect origination fees to be about twice as much. Appraisals will be close to the same.

So on paper, the rates and fees are higher, so it feels like you’re spending more. Which you are! But with hard money loans, you’re paying for:

  • Accessibility
  • Convenience
  • Flexibility
  • The opportunity to purchase properties you’d never be able to while relying on bank loans.

While hard money costs more than other loans, the potential value is also way higher. When sellers have discounted real estate, they want it sold fast. Banks can take 25-30 days to close. You can receive hard money in a matter of days.

Every week, we see hard money work to save people money.

When a recent client of ours bought a property, he saved 10% – just because he could close faster than the other five bidders. His savings on that purchase were $30,000: much more than double what he’ll spend on the loan transaction.

How Do You Qualify for a Hard Money Loan?

There are two kinds of hard money lenders. They each have different qualification requirements.

National Hard Money Lenders

National lenders lend in almost every state. They are larger organizations, backed by hedge funds and private equity.

National hard money lenders require:

  • A credit score check, and a good score.
  • Experience – at least five deals in the last three years. 
  • Properties to be in specific larger communities.

So if you’re new to investing, need to improve your credit score, or are looking at more rural properties, you may need to look into local lenders.

Local or Private Hard Money Lenders

A local, or private, lender will specialize in your state or area. Local lenders are much more likely to:

  • Not ask for a credit score.
  • Not require experience.
  • Lend for rural areas.

Local lenders are focused on the deal itself and whether it has good value.

When deciding which lender to use for hard money, always shop around to see what fits your situation now. And be aware that another lender may fit you better in the future.

Are Private Lenders Better Than Banks?

It’s impossible to say whether hard money lenders or banks are “better” for real estate. It all depends on your deal and where you are in your investment career.

When to Use Bank Loans vs Hard Money Loans

Bank loans will have lower rates and may be the better route if you:

  • Have had a successful investment business for over two years.
  • Make a lot of money at a W-2 job.
  • Have 3-4 weeks to close.

Hard money loans will be easier, faster,  and may work better if you:

  • Are newer to real estate investing.
  • Don’t have money up-front to invest.
  • Don’t want to put your own money into a deal.
  • Need to close within a week or two.

As long as a property promises income, hard money more than makes up for its higher rates with the speed and greater potential savings. Starting in hard money paves the way for you to work up to bigger funding opportunities.

Ultimately, your investment career should always have a mix of funding types. Bank loans, hard money, and OPM all have their place to work for you in real estate investing.

Where to Go from Here

Understanding money is key to successful real estate investments. When you put time into understanding money, you get control of it. With control, you can multiply your investment earnings four times over.

It doesn’t stop here. We want to help with your hard money education: