As I write this letter, I can’t help but think that this will probably be the craziest, most unpredictable experience of my lifetime. First, I hope you and your family members are well and are in good spirits and optimistic about the future. I read in a “good book” one time that “without vision, the people will parish”. I think it is important to always look to the future with vision and wisdom. Fear is crippling and debilitating. It is born of uncertainty and a lack of understanding. Today is certainly ripe for that, isn’t it? So much is unknown right now that I wanted to focus on what we do know and share with you what we at Investor Loan Source have done and what we continue to do, to ensure that we remain strong and secure for our families, investors, lenders and partners.
We have always taken what we have considered a conservative approach to lending and investing. We have never swung for the fences. We keep our pricing at reasonable, sustainable levels, and we have limited exposure as much as possible. When our competitors slashed their margins and raised their LTV maximums, we didn’t chase them. We let borrowers go to them and we focused on diversifying our product lines, so we didn’t have to compete with craziness. It turns out that our strategy worked out well, as many of those competitors are now unable to lend or have closed their doors all together. As a result, we have had record numbers of loan applications in the last 30 days. With this THREE-FOLD increase in applications, we have been able to make changes that will only serve to make us and our loans even stronger.
- We raised the credit score requirements of borrowers to get into our A&B loan programs. This results in higher percentage rates on most of our loans without us really raising rates.
- We lowered LTV maximums on certain loans. This means they need to bring more of their own money to close.
- We have lowered the maximum loan amount for residential fix and flip loans. Now we will generally lend only up to $250,000 in most of our markets, as we believe that the higher priced houses may take a value hit in the next 12 months. As an investor over the last 13 years, I know that the blue collar “affordable housing” is always in short supply and demand increases during rough financial times. This leads to smaller price drops as a percentage on lower priced homes compared to higher priced homes. It creates more work for us since we get paid based on the loan amount and a $500,000 loan takes the same amount of time as a $50,000 loan, while paying only one tenth as much. At this time, we are fine with that to keep the integrity of our loan portfolio as high as possible.
- We have diversified into commercial bridge loans that have higher loan amounts in asset classes not effected as greatly by the downturn (if it hits real estate). This has given us the ability to diversify geographically, by asset class and by industry. Our approach is to not have huge exposure in any one place.
While we have taken a cautious attitude through all this turmoil, we are very optimistic about the future. Our borrower payment rates have been outstanding. We have not seen much of a difference, if any, from our normal collection rate. Our Private Equity Funds have been posting phenomenal returns and I expect that to get a little higher, given our ability to charge more interest in the current market. With less competitors, we are able to cherry pick the best loans out there and let the rest lay. While the future is uncertain, with the wisdom of the past and steady patience, opportunities will abound. I will remain diligent and seek to bring in the very best business I can. Donald and I look forward to many more years of our families working with you and your families.