Real Estate 034: Real Estate Hard Money Lenders

In previous blog posts, we have discussed various financing strategies such as conventional lending, private money, home equity line of credit, and seller financing. You may have also heard the term hard money lending (HML) from Real Estate meetups and forums. When compared to a private money lender, hard money lenders are individuals or group of individuals that lend their money based on the value and cash flow of the subject property and not the net worth, credit history, or liquidity of the individual borrower. 

Hard money lenders are typically more sophisticated and have industry experience. As these loans are being made based on the asset, there is inquiries and reviews performed on the property through an inspection, drive by, and/or walkthrough, as well as the business plan, such as the rehab bid and ARV projections through an appraisal, Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) or Broker's Price Opinion (BPOs).

The benefits of working with Hard Money Lenders is that they are professionals that understand the needs of the deal. In a hot market, speed is crucial, and some hard money lenders are able to close in 7-10 days from signing the purchase agreement. 

When interviewing various Hard Money Lenders, they will generally give you a fee sheet that include their sample terms as follows: 

  • Amount Financed - Maximum purchase and/or rehab price

  • Interest Rate - APR (yearly) interest terms on the deal (Recourse vs Non-Recourse)

  • Origination Fee or Loan Points - Pre-paid interest where 1 point equals 1% interest of loan amount

  • Closing Costs - Escrow Fees, Document Fees, Notary Fees

  • Loan Term - Duration of the loan and any allowable extensions

Below is a sample pre-approval I received from my Hard Money Lender:

"Hello Bo, we have you pre-approved you at 90% of purchase price plus 90% of repairs, subject to appraisal requirements for a combined purchase price plus repair amount of up to $225,000.  Final approval is subject to review and approval of the property, budget, appraisal, and final funding source approval.  The interest rate is 10% fixed, interest only monthly payments, no prepayment penalty.  

There is a 2% origination fee for repairs under $50,000 and 2.25% origination fee for repairs exceeding $50,000 plus $385 processing fee and third party closing costs. (Higher pricing for loan amounts under $100,000). This loan term will be a six month loan with an automatic six month extension, so it can go up to 12 months in total.

The monthly extension fee beginning in month 7 is the loan amount times .0033 per month and is added on to the pay off at the end of the loan for any of the extension months used for months 7 through 12.  Attached is a preapproval letter for a purchase price up to $175,000, leaving $50,000 for rehab.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like a letter that is property specific. Thanks!"

Based on my experience, I noted that the hard money lending process was as follows: 

Step 1  – Pre-approval. 

Step 2  – Place a deal under contract within the price range noted in the pre-approval.

Step 3  – Inform the HML of the subject property under contract and outline of estimated rehab costs (if any) along with ARV. 

Step 4  – Appraisal, CMA, BPO, or walkthrough of subject property.

Step 5  – Underwriting of deal and adjustments (if any) to purchase/rehab loan amount.

Step 6  – Final approval and closing.

Step 7  – HML puts the loan amount into escrow at the title company or the lender will schedule draws (varies from lender to lender) to be taken upon successful completion of the rehabs in various tranches. 

Step 8 – Complete rehab and obtain long term financing or sell to a buyer to pay off HML.

In conclusion, Hard Money Lenders are a great source of capital, especially for borrowers with experience, good deals and a need to close fast. 

As always, please make sure you do your due diligence and talk to your CPA/Attorney/Financial Adviser before making any investment decision.

Good luck!


Real Estate 031: Finding Private Lenders Script

As investors work towards building their portfolio, they often might run into an issue of finding capital to fund their deals. I have also run into this problem as I was taking down almost 1 deal a month in 2018, and needed to find a private lender (e.g. family, friends, coworkers, and other acquaintances that you have met/talked a couple times) that will help provide me with a short term loan while I execute the Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat (BRRRR) strategy to force appreciation (build equity) in lieu of a 20-25% downpayment. I will share with you the steps that I took to raise capital and create win-win situations for myself and the lender.

My first private lender was an investor friend of mine, as such, we knew of each other's deals, experience, and goals prior to entering into a financial relationship. I knew that as I engage other potential lenders, I needed to be able to explain clearly what I do, my experience, and the potential returns on their investment.

My informational package included the following items:

  • Business name/contact information

  • Business mission and objective

  • Description of how my business operates (e.g. Market, Team, Investments)

  • Explanation of Private Money and how to fund a deal 

  • Business track record, including photos and videos

  • Referrals from previous investors or mentors

  • Expectations for both parties in the deal

  • Frequently asked questions

Remember that content, not format of the information is key. Be prepared to fully answer any and all questions that the potential lender may have as most private lenders do not do this on a daily basis and will need some education in the beginning

Once this was put together, I provided this information to the potential lender and walked them through the entire process. Remember that real estate is all about building relationships, so even though this potential investor may not pan out, there may be someone he/she knows that is interested or they may return in the future once they are comfortable with the concept. As much as they are interviewing you, you are interviewing them to make sure that they are not going to be a hindrance and obstacle in operating your business. Is this person a nervous individual who will be calling you every day for an update, or a pushy investor? Or will this investor be in it for the long haul and be with you on multiple deals? These are questions to carefully consider before entering any agreement with your lender.

Next, you want to learn about your potential private lender and their main concerns. During my experience, I learned that lenders mostly care about three things:

  1. Return on Investment

    1. What if the rehab goes over budget

  2. Securing their Investment

    1. What if the appraisal does not come in at ARV

  3. Timing of their Investment

    1. What if the economy changes

    2. What if the borrower goes bankrupt

These are all important questions that you should proactively address during your walkthrough and calls with the lender as follows (Investor Script taken from the BiggerPockets forums):

“As you know, these are ‘investments’ that we’re talking about, so there is no guarantee of success. There is risk involved with any kind of investment, but as our successful track record testifies, the way we invest in real estate seeks to minimize the risk at every turn. We offer a first lien position on any property we lend on, which means if I end up breaking any of the terms in our agreement, you could foreclose on me and take the property."

“Also, because of this lien, you will get all your money back, plus interest, before I ever see a dime. I only make money if you make money. Additionally, we will sign a promissory note that clearly and legally spells out all the terms and conditions of our arrangement. Finally, we only invest in amazing real estate deals that will have significant equity in right off the bat, so we are protected against a drop in the economy. Because we buy only good deals, there is significant monthly cash flow following conservative estimates, and we set aside money each month for future expenses. All these factors help limit risk and ensure that your investment is as solid as possible.”

Below is a sample rehab and FAQ sheet that I also share with my potential lenders as appropriate:


By advising your potential lending partner on these concerns up front, you are able to build a stronger relationship and trust so that you are both on the same page. Show them different versions of a proforma on a sliding scale that show a best to worst case scenario. Although you do not want to scare off the lender, it shows that you have done your homework and will put them at ease when you run into roadblocks and have to make adjustments.

As always, please make sure you do your due diligence and talk to your CPA/Attorney/Financial Adviser before making any investment decision.

Good luck!