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Legal and regulatory issues regarding hard money loans


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From inception, the hard money field has always been formally unregulated by state or federal laws, although some restrictions on interest rates (usury laws) by state governments restrict the rates of hard money such that operations in several states, including Tennessee and Arkansas are virtually untenable for lending firms.

Commercial lending industry:

Thanks to freedom from regulation, the commercial lending industry operates with particular speed and responsiveness, making it an attractive option for those seeking quick funding. However, this has also created a highly predatory lending environment where many companies refer loans to one another (brokering), increasing the price and loan points with each referral.

There is also great concern about the practices of some lending companies in the industry who require upfront payments to investigate loans and refuse to lend on virtually all properties while keeping this fee. Borrowers are advised not to work with hard money lenders who require exorbitant upfront fees prior to funding in order to reduce this risk. If you feel you have been the victim of unfair practices, contact your state's attorney general office or the office of the state in which the lender operates.

Hard money rate:

Hard Money loans are generally more expensive than traditional sub-prime mortgages. However all mortgage loans are not necessarily considered to be a high cost mortgage. Generally a hard money loan carries additional risk that a borrower is aware of. Private investors are generally only willing to create hard money loans in return for a very high interest rate (often about 11.5% plus five points for residential home purchases). Rather than selling the property a borrower will opt to keep the loan and if a lender is willing to assume some of the risk by offering a hard money loan.

Interest rate on hard money:

The rate is not dependent on the Bank Rate. It is instead more dependent on the real estate market and availability of hard money credit. As of 2008 and for the past decade hard money has ranged from the mid 12%–21% range . When a borrower defaults they may be charged a higher “Default Rate". That rate can be as high as allowed by law, which may go up to or around 25%–29%. Some private lenders will collect a prepayment penalty and some will not.

Hard money points and fees:

Points on a hard money loan are traditionally 1 to 3 more than a traditional loan, which would amount to 3 to 6 points on the average hard loan. It is very common for a commercial hard money loan to be upwards of four points and as high as 10 points. The reason a borrower would pay that rate is to avoid imminent foreclosure or a “quick sale" of the property. That could amount to as much as a 30% or more discount as is common on short sales. By taking a short term bridge or hard money loan, the borrower often saves equity and extends his time to get his affairs in order to better manage the property.

All hard money borrowers are advised to use a professional real estate attorney to assure the property is not given away by way of a late payment or other default without benefit of traditional procedures that would require a court judgment.


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