Tag Archive for: private money

Hard Money vs. Private Money Loans: What’s the Difference?

Sometimes these terms are used in similar situations, but what actually makes private money loans different from hard money?

One of the most beautiful and attractive aspects of real estate investing is its accessibility.

Anyone can enter the game and create wealth, provided they understand their available options and use other people’s money (in the form of loans, etc.) to fund their projects. This is called using leverage.

The best leverage for each deal might be a little different. Sometimes you need to close quickly. Sometimes you need to prioritize low interest rates. 

Whatever the top priority, private money and hard money are tools to have in your investing toolbox.

Private Money Loans vs. Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans have been around for a long time, but recently we’re seeing a rise in private money loans.

Knowing the differences between the two can help you find the best deal for the specific needs of your project.

1. Credit Scores

  • Hard Money: Credit scores aren’t typically a factor. 
  • Private Money: Score based.

Instead of looking at your credit score, hard money lenders look at your financial history for things like bankruptcy, foreclosures, etc. 

Additionally, not only is hard money not determined by your credit score, but hard money loans can also be used to help fix your credit score (something that private money isn’t necessarily designed to do).  

If you have concerns about your credit score, check out our information about usage loans.

2. Flexibility

  • Hard Money: Super flexible and great for unique projects! 
  • Private Money: Less flexible, often better for larger communities.

If you have a project that’s a bit outside of the box, hard money is often the way to go since these loans aren’t restricted as much as traditional bank loans.

In contrast, private money tends to be best for projects that are a bit more “typical” in real estate investing. It can be tricky to get private money loans below $125,000, so if you’re looking for a fast, small loan, hard money might be a better deal.

3. Loan to Value

  • Hard Money: Up to 100% financing.
  • Private Money: Typically maxes out at 70% of the repair value and 90% of the purchase.

Sometimes you can find private money loans with great terms, but typically hard money can offer higher LTVs.

4. Markets

  • Hard Money: Local.
  • Private Money: National.

Private money has the advantage over hard money when you’re looking in larger communities. Most hard money lenders have smaller areas (or two or three states) they specialize in, and they like to stay focused on those areas.

5. Pricing

  • Hard Money: More expensive.
  • Private Money: Less expensive.

If you’re in a large city, and you’re looking for the best pricing, private money will typically be less expensive than hard money. 

It’s important to note that the difference in cost between these loans is often in the points, not the rate. 

Often, hard money loans are anywhere between 2 and 3 points, with loans around 6-9 months. In contrast, private money loans are often closer to 1-1.5 and offer longer loans of 12-18 months.

Which Loan is Better?

It depends what you need!

If you need a flexible, quick loan with higher LTVs that isn’t going to penalize you for a less-than-spectacular credit score, hard money is the way to go.

If you need longer terms, better points, and something that’s designed for larger communities and typical projects, check out private money loans. 

Explore Our Resources

Real estate investing is great, and both of these loans should be in your investing toolbox. 

If you want to explore a hard money loan, feel free to contact us at Info@HardMoneyMike.com. We’re always happy to talk through a deal or help you figure out what sort of loans are right for you.

You can also check out the free tools on our website or our YouTube channel where we offer investment tips and tricks. Our #1 goal is that you feel confident and equipped to succeed as a real estate investor. 

Happy investing!

Private Money Loans: 5 Tips to Find the Safest Loan

What should you look for when considering private money loans?

Real estate investing is one of the most lucrative markets out there. It’s still creating millionaires and opening the door for families to build generational wealth. But how can you get your foot in the door?

Especially if you’re a newer investor, we’re here to help you figure out how to do this by finding the right lender for you.

Why Private Money Loans? 

Private money loans—also often called hard money loans—are particularly helpful in real estate investing. These particular loans are more flexible which make them perfect for unique projects or projects in rural areas that larger banks may see as less valuable.

If you’re in real estate, you understand that leverage is king. Hard money is an important part of that leverage. However, even as you’re looking for private loans, make sure you shop around so that you can negotiate the best deal possible.

But how can you go about finding a good private money loan? 

1. Shop Around for Loans

No matter where you are in your real estate career, you should always shop around. Even if you’ve had a good experience with a lender in the past, still look around to see if you can find better deals. 

Talk to different lenders. Especially with hard money, each lender will typically have a specialty. This means that each project you do might fit best with a different lender.

This can feel overwhelming, so we’ve created a free tool called the loan cost optimizer. It’s easy to use and can help you find a better deal for your project.

2. Ask For Referrals

If you ask Google to find a good lender, two things are going to happen: First, you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Second, the ones you’re most likely to see will be paid promotions or paid advertisements.

One of the best ways to avoid this is by asking for referrals. If you know other people in your area who are in the real estate game, ask about their experiences with their lenders. 

Did they charge what they said they were going to charge? How accurate was the lender’s original quote? Did they close on time? Was the contract solid?

Finding a good lender is about more than the on-paper costs. You want a lender who’s reliable and trustworthy, just like they want reliable clients. 

3. Check the Reviews

If you can’t get a referral from someone, the next best thing (and something you should do regardless) is to check the reviews.

Platforms like Google have made it super easy for people to leave reviews for companies. Check out what people are saying. 

Although reviews aren’t always entirely accurate, if a private money lender has a lot of negative reviews about trying to change the terms of a loan, that could be an issue. 

4. Get The Private Money Loan Details in Writing

You don’t ever want to be stuck in a situation where you thought you had a specific agreement, but it doesn’t come through because it was just a verbal comment.

Make sure you get a clear terms sheet that outlines everything the lender said. If you have other important conversations, ask to get an outline of that conversation in writing. Even an email works!

5. Review All Paperwork Carefully

If possible, find a lender who will provide the settlement statement a day or two before closing so you don’t have any surprises. This gives you time to review the paperwork carefully before finalizing the deal. 

Always make sure you know the default rates and other potential charges that might show up. Even if you don’t expect delays in your projects (no one does), read all that fine print carefully so you know the facts.

If You Want Additional Help… Ask Us!

Here at Hard Money Mike we specialize in private money loans. These loans are flexible and perfect for investors working in smaller communities, but it can take some time to find the right loan for you.

If you want a quote, have questions, or want to learn more about private money loans, reach out to us at Info@HardMoneyMike.com

The Funding Ladder: How to Get the BEST Real Estate Financing

What does it really look like to get the best real estate financing? Let’s go step-by-step.

Hard money is a stepping stone.

You start here. But you also need to know where you’re going.

One of the most common questions we get from beginner real estate investors is:

“Who can I borrow money from? How do I step out from just using hard money?”

We want to get you started with the money that makes sense for you now – but we also want to show you how to work up to Wall Street money, OPM, or even funding with your own cash.

We think of this journey as The Funding Ladder. Let’s go over what beginners should know about real estate financing – and how to get to each rung of the ladder.

The Importance of Real Estate Financing

Funding is at least half of what makes investing successful.

Yes, you have to buy good properties and get them at a good number. But the right funding is what truly seals a deal.

  • Sometimes that means the funding is fast, so you can buy the good, available properties that need a quick close.
  • Sometimes it’s funding that’s cheap. Cash flow is king, and lower-cost financing increases your cash flow.
  • Sometimes it needs to be flexible. It needs to fit what you can apply for and get.

The Funding Ladder: 6 Levels to the Best Real Estate Financing

As you go from level to level, you accumulate more money because you save more money. Every time you step up, you’re going to put more money into your pocket, have more deals available, and at better pricing.

Here are the 6 rungs of this funding ladder.

#1: Partnerships

Typically, most people will start in either partnerships or hard money. 

Partnerships are great because you don’t have to provide any of the funding. The partner will provide all the funding – and maybe even some expertise. The negative about a partnership is typically they’re going to take at least 50% of the profits and probably be a little too involved in the project.

But when you’re starting out and you need some experience and you don’t have the money, this is a great way to go too. You could do two or three deals with the partner, build up your experience and cash, then move to the next level. 

#2: Hard Money

Secondly is local hard money.

This is asset-based lending. For real estate investors, this is what hard money used to be until they started changing the name to private money. Now, sometimes it gets a little confusing. Hard money, private money, fix and flip loans, rehab loans – they’re all referring to the same thing.

What you get from hard money is true investor-grade financing where they lend a higher loan-to-value, so you don’t have to put as much into the property. 

They will be flexible. They will look at unique deals: land or small commercial or any type of unique property. Local hard money likely won’t care much about your credit score – so it’s a great option if your score is sub-700. 

Additionally, hard money lenders care less about your experience. As long as your deal is sold, they might not require you to have completed any projects before.

Hard money is typically fast also. So if you need to close something in five days instead of 10 or 30, local hard money is the best real estate financing. 

The cons of hard money are that:

  • They’re smaller lenders with a smaller fund – so it’s possible for them to run out of money.
  • They tend to be more expensive. It may cost you 1 – 1.5 more points than when you go with Wall Street private money.

#3: Wall Street Private Money

Next is what we call Wall Street Private Money. These are large firms.

The best part about these is they have seemingly unlimited funds.

They have similar interest rates as local hard money. Sometimes hard money is actually cheaper on the rates, but you’ll find private money 1-1.5 points cheaper.

The other benefit of private money is it could lend in multiple states and multiple regions. Typically, your partnerships, hard money, or even local banks will not lend out of their region.

They typically also could do longer terms. It’s not uncommon for them to do a 12 or 18 month. We don’t suggest that you take longer than 6-9 months on a fix and flip loan because the interest eats away at your profits every month. But the option is out there with private money.

Now, the negatives for the Wall Street private money:

  • They have a box. If you don’t fit in their box, they won’t make their funding work for you. They find enough people who do fit in their box. So, if a property is unique, rural, etc, then they typically won’t bother.
  • Typically, they’ll require 3-5 years of experience to get their best rates and terms. 
  • They’re also going to require that you have a decent credit score. The actual requirement changes, but right now it’s a minimum of 660, with a preference of 720+.
  • Wall Street private money lenders won’t give you any escrow advances. When you close, they may fund 100% of your escrow for your fix-up, but they won’t give you any advance to start. So if you have like a $60,000 budget to fix up the property, they want you to put in that first $20,000 and then they will reimburse you.

#4: Local Banks

The next rung on the ladder of the best real estate financing is local banks.

There are a lot of small to mid-size local banks that love to lend to real estate investors. Rates are high currently from the Fed, but banks are still 1-2 points cheaper on the interest rate even compared to the Wall Street money points’ cost.

The negatives with local banks are:

  • The speed. It can take two to four weeks minimum for them to fund a deal, which could cause you to miss out on deals. 
  • Local banks require certain credit scores, too, like private money does.
  • They’ll also require money down and investing experience.

#5: Real OPM

Next is what we call real OPM (other people’s money). This is truly the best real estate financing. Regardless of your experience level, you can work toward getting OPM. Any rung on this ladder benefits from Other People’s Money.

Real OPM is money from real, normal people, not institutional lenders. It could be family, friends, or other people in your community.

These people want better returns for their money than they can get at a bank. Lending to you can be a way to get that secured return. out there looking for better returns. 

You can also get a much better rate with an OPM lender than at a bank, credit union, private money, or hard money lender. There’s nothing out there that’s faster, cheaper, or easier to get.

Once you build an OPM relationship, your lender will want to give you money as much as you want to get it. It’s simple to call them up and let them know you found a good deal. There’s no underwriting, no credit checks, and oftentimes they can fund the full amount you need.

It’s important to attract and keep your OPM lenders (if you want more help setting this up, reach out to us – this is one of our specialties!).

#6: Lines of Credit

As you accumulate properties, you’ll want to move on to lines of credit as a funding source. This is where banks (whose loans are slow) can offer you a product that’s quicker than the rest.

A bank line of credit is like a big HELOC, except instead of being on one property, it spans 5 or 6. This line of credit is immediate funding – which is great for fast auction closes.

When you have a large line of credit at your disposal, all the wholesalers and local sellers will go to you first because they know you’ll give them a fast close. 

How Do You Get the Best Real Estate Financing?

We want people who come into this business to understand that hard money is a stepping stone. They’re going from here, but they also need to know where they should be headed. 

We want to educate people, make them comfortable, confident real estate investors, and help where we can along the way.

Have questions about any point in this process? Want to talk with someone about how to go from where you are now up to the next step? Reach out to us at Info@HardMoneyMike.com

Happy Investing.

Private Money vs Hard Money: Is There a Difference?

There’s no technical difference between private money vs hard money… Or is there?

As a real estate investor, one of your main goals is to get the best leverage possible. You want lower down payments, interest rates, and fees.

But who’s going to give you that best leverage? Private money lenders, or hard money lenders?

In fact, is there a difference at all between these two lender types? Let’s take a look at private money vs hard money and see who you should go to for the best prices.

What’s the Difference Between Hard Money & Private Money?

Firstly, what’s the difference?

Here’s the thing: private money loans and hard money loans are usually used interchangeably. There’s no clear-cut definition between them.

Both types of lenders ultimately do the same thing – they lend money based on an asset for real estate investing.

Okay, But What’s the REAL Difference?

Although private money and hard money are the same concept, each word has different connotations in the real estate investment community.

We’ve found that people typically associate local lenders with hard money. And they consider capital corporations – the capital funds off Wall Street – private money lenders.

Again, we’re doing the same thing. We’re lending money based on an asset for real estate.

So why are we making such a big deal about the difference? Although they’re the “same” thing, the requirements and costs of each type of money can be vastly different.

Let’s look at what we’ve found about the experience of a private money lender vs a hard money lender.

The Hard Money Experience

People tend to have a poor perception of hard money. They assume hard money = loan sharking. That hard money lenders will get you into a bad deal just for the sake of profiting off you.

The reality is quite the opposite.

Local hard money lenders make money when you make money. They want you to be a successful investor.

Therefore, hard money is flexible in the type of deals they’ll look at and the type of help they offer. They’ll do gap funding and second positions; they may offer bridge loans for saving flips that have gone bad. They’re not strict on credit score requirements, and they often don’t even require an appraisal.

The Private Money Experience

Typically, Wall Street private money lenders are “box” lenders. That means anything that doesn’t fit in their box, they will not do.

Private money also tends to be a bit pricier. We’ll share a story to describe this.

Mike did a group meeting for a real estate investor in Boulder, CO. He went over the hard money loans that we could do. At the end, someone brought up the common question: “What’s the difference between hard money and private money?”

The organizer of the event stepped in. He said, “I’ll tell you what the difference is. I used a capital company. I used someone from Wall Street.” And he shared their terms.

And guess what?

He was putting 5% more down than a hard money lender would require. He was paying a 1% higher interest rate and over $1,200 more in fees. …All because he wanted to be able to say he was working with a capital fund private lender.

We see clients who share a similar story. People lose money on projects by not looking at the exact costs and opting for the bigger name instead.

Which Is Better – Private Money or Hard Money?

So, to determine what’s best for you, you need to look at all the numbers.

  • How long will each loan take? How much will a slow close cost you?
  • What do you need to put for a down payment?
  • Do I meet the credit score requirements?
  • What are the rates?
  • What are the fees/points?

Invest by the numbers, not by the names.

To make this part of the process easier for you, we have a free loan optimizer download for you. For your next project, do this:

  • Go to three different lenders – a mix of private and hard money. 
  • Get all the numbers from them for what they’ll offer on your deal.
  • Plug those numbers into the calculator.
  • Compare the final costs the calculator gives you to determine the cheapest loan.

Why do you have to be so rigorous with numbers? When it comes to private money vs hard money, the cheaper option up front often isn’t the cheaper option overall. The lender with lower interest rates might slip in more junk fees. The one who charges zero points could have upwards of 12% interest rates. The only way to find the best loan for your deal is to use a tool and do the calculations.

I Might Want a Loan

Need a real estate loan? We want you to get the best one possible. Leverage makes your real estate world go round, and the cheaper you can get it, the more successful your business.

Reach out to us with a deal at Info@HardMoneyMike.com.

For more real estate investing resources, check out the videos on our YouTube channel.

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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.

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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:

How To Buy a Fix and Flip: The First Key Steps

How To Buy a Fix and Flip: The First Key Steps

How To Buy a Fix and Flip: The First Key Steps

Do you know how to buy a fix and flip? Because if you’re new to investing in real estate, there’s a chance you’re not sure where to begin this process.

You might think, “Well, I’ll just get a loan.” But do you know what “getting a loan” really means?

That’s why today we’re going to take a look at the different real estate lenders you can rely on—and which ones you might have to rely on until you boost your credit score, build a real estate portfolio, or complete one of the other qualifications that some lenders require.

To begin, there are 5 popular real estate lenders. Each one has various pros and cons, so let’s start with the most simple and basic lenders.

Friend or Family Member

The upside to asking a friend or family member for a loan is, well, you’re asking a friend or family member for a loan. You know them, and you probably know them very well…well enough to ask them for money.  The only qualification you really need is a decent relationship.

The downside is, well, you know them. They’re your friend, your dad, your sister, or someone else you have deep roots with. That makes the entire loan process way more personal, which means there’s a lot of potential for drama—both now and in the future.

Business Partner

Instead of going through a family member or friend, you can get a business partner. A business partner can lend you the money to buy a value-add property with very few if any qualifications. The big pro here is they take on most—if not all—of the financial risks. It’s their money, not yours.

On the flip side, it’s their money, not yours. That means some business partners get greedy. Rather than splitting profits fairly, they demand the lion’s share. To them, it might not matter if you were the one who did all the actual work. They took the risk, so they should get a bigger reward at the end of the day.

Hard Money

If you have some basic qualifications, you can skip the first two lenders we’ve talked about and get a loan through a hard money lender. Hard money loans (aka, Fix and Flip loans) are great when you need to close a real estate deal FAST. We’re talking days instead of weeks or months.

Unfortunately, hard money can be expensive. Rates tend to be higher than other lenders. But every hard money lender varies, so it’s absolutely worth shopping around. Plus, hard money loans aren’t intended to be long term, so the high cost can actually save you a lot of pain AND money in the long run.

What is hard money? Check out our truth revealing series on YouTube!


Banks are the most traditional lender out there. In fact, most real estate investors look to this type of lender before they consider any other. And, why not? Banks usually have the lowest rates available.

Unfortunately, banks also have the strictest requirements, and if you don’t meet those requirements, you’ll get rejected. Worse, the application process is a lot more in-depth, which means closing can take A LOT longer. Which means that perfect investment property you wanted gets snatched up by someone using a faster lender.


Aka, “Other People’s Money.” This is exactly how it sounds. You use other people’s money to buy a property. This is different than asking a family member, friend, or business partner for financial help because there are more boundaries. With OPM, a lender charges interest. That’s it. There aren’t points or profits involved. It’s simple and easy.

The only downside of OPM is finding those who are willing to lend their money to you. But that’s where gaining experience and knowledge in real estate investing helps. The more you know, the more you can prove you’re worth the investment.

So, there you have it. Those are the 5 ways to buy a fix and flip property. Each one has its pros and cons, but each one is a viable option. It just depends on YOU and your financial situation.

Bad credit? No credit? You might have to start with a family member, friend, or business partner

Great credit? Solid income? Extensive real estate portfolio? You probably can jump straight to hard money or a bank loan. Or, better yet, OPM.

Each investor has a different path.

Ready to find out what your path is? Great! Our team is here to help. We’re excited to set you on a path that helps you make the kind of money you need…to live the life you want.

Happy investing!

Reach Your Cash Flow Goals

Hard Money Mike: Reach Your Cash Flow Goals

Hard Money Mike: Reach Your Cash Flow Goals

So, why do you need Hard Money Mike?

Well, our company goes far beyond providing quick hard money loans for your value-add properties. We also strive to help you reach your cash flow goals.

We think it’s fair to say that in real estate investing, cash flow is king. Right?

Generating positive cash flow is probably the key similarity among all investors. Whether you’re interested in fix and flips, rentals, or another value-add property, it’s likely main reason you risk your money, dedicate your time, and shed your tears is to make money.

A lot of it.

And the Hard Money Mike team gets that. In fact, we make it our main focus here. Because we know that cash flow means everything. It also means different things to different people. Such as:

  • Freedom from a 9-5 job
  • More time with family
  • Extra vacations
  • A safer, happier retirement
  • A comfier lifestyle
  • Daily Starbucks
  • A new house…Or, you know, a second house that you can escape to when winter hits. Because wouldn’t you’d rather spend the winter sipping piña coladas on a sandy beach than drinking hot cocoa in an ice-covered city? Well, to each their own, right?

Anyway, there are a million reasons why you might want more money in your life, and we want to support you by helping you create specific goals. And then a plan to reach each goal as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Because no matter what kind of real estate investing you’re interested in, it all comes down to numbers. If the numbers don’t work, then the real estate deal doesn’t work. And if the deal doesn’t work, then you won’t be able to generate extra income.

Then it’s bye-bye to those piña coladas. Or, you know, whatever your reason is for investing in real estate and making money.

So, if you’re ready to talk about your goals and creating a strategy to achieve them, then go ahead and reach out to us. Our experienced team is always here and eager to assist you.

Happy investing!