Common Myths Regarding Hard Money

There are many misconceptions regarding hard money lenders in the real estate industry today, and yet for those in the know, it continuously proves to be a real estate investor’s biggest asset. Do not be put off by the stigma surrounding the word “hard money” or by stories you’ve heard about a friend of a friend before learning more. Here are the top arguments I hear from naysayers on a continual basis and the reasons why they are simply not true!

Myth #1: Hard money is only for the desperate real estate investor.

This is the biggest myth of all. Many hard money lenders are privately funded, meaning they do not require bank financing to close a loan. Therefore, many hard money lenders can be more flexible than the bank when underwriting a loan if the deal makes sense. Hard money is great for those who are self-employed as they do not need to prove their income with a W-2, as well as immigrants, those with less than perfect credit scores, investors who work with properties that appear to be less than desirable, those investors who have reached their loan limit with their institution, and those investors who just need to close the deal fast. Hard money is for everyone!

Myth #2: Hard money loans are expensive.

While hard money loans tend to give most people “sticker shock” it is important to remember to look at the big picture. Most hard money lenders can lend a higher percentage of your project’s cost than some stringent traditional lenders, allowing you to bring less out of pocket funds to the closing table.

Hard money loans tend to have shorter repayment periods and prepayment penalty times. This means you can pay the loan off faster with less interest in total. Investor Loan Source, a national private lender, even has a one-time close feature allowing you to convert your short-term rehab project to a long-term rental without going back to the closing table. This allows you to avoid paying closing fees a second time.

In addition, because of the fast-closing times of most hard money lenders (who can often close within 10 business days or sooner) your potential for profit rises. After all – time is money. In an environment as hot as the current real estate market, the wait for a traditional bank loan can cost you opportunities.

When combining these perks your hard money loan tends to be a less expensive choice overall.

Myth #3: Hard money loans are risky.

This myth is almost laughable. Most of the time hard money lenders are lending out their own money and making a risky loan is not in anyone’s best interest. Hard money lenders often have a vast understanding of the real estate market and what is entailed for a project to be successful. It is not uncommon for lenders to be successful businesspeople who have the entrepreneurial spirit and a reputable background in real estate, investment banking, accounting, law, etc. If you choose an experienced hard money lender, this will ensure that proper due diligence and calculations are done to help determine whether an investment will be profitable for you, the borrower. They want you to be successful so that you will use them for your next real estate investment project.

Myth #4: Hard money lenders want to take your property.

Stop right there! Hard money lenders are in the lending business NOT the foreclosure business. They do not want to own your property. When a foreclosure is pursued, you can be sure it is because every other avenue was exhausted. Regardless of whether you go the traditional lending route or hard money, be sure that you understand your loan terms, have a solid exit plan in place and care apable of repaying your debt.

Truth: Hard money lenders are important resource.

Do not pass up the opportunity and benefits that come with taking out a hard money loan for your next real estate investment deal. It may make sense to use hard money based on your needs and the investment opportunity. Finding a lender you can trust is the single most important choice you can make. Looking for a hard money lender? Consider Investor Loan Source. Visit to learn more.

What Investors Should Know About Title Commitments

What is a Title Commitment and Why Do Investors Need One?

The title commitment for insurance is the insurers promise to issue title insurance after closing and should be carefully reviewed and understood. It is essentially a disclosure document that outlines any issues/requirements that need to be addressed prior to closing as well as any liens, obligations, and defects affecting a property. This is a snapshot in time looking backwards. Your title commitment will not ensure any title issues that arise after this date (ex. liens put on the property after the commitment is issued, etc.) and expires six months from the effective date seen on Schedule A of the commitment. After closing, your title company will issue your official Title Insurance Policy using the commitment previously provided. This document is important as it protects you should any disputes arise regarding ownership and provides coverage against losses due to title defects.

Loan Policy and Owner’s Policy

There are two types of title policy’s: the loan policy and owner’s policy. The loan policy is usually a requirement of any lender and will protect their interest in the property they are loaning money on. This policy is usually written at the loan amount. It does NOT insure the owner should any title issues arise. A separate owner’s policy can be purchased that will insure you for the full amount of the property purchase price (not just the loan amount) and will remain in place as long as you have an interest in the property.

Title Commitment Sections

Each title commitment is made up of three parts: Schedule A which covers the basics of the transaction, Schedule B Section I which lists all requirements that must be addressed prior to closing, and Schedule B Section II which addresses exceptions to coverage.

How to Read a Title Commitment

Schedule A

This part of the Title Commitment covers the basics of your transaction. It is imperative that all information here is correct. You will want to check your effective date, the name of the person who currently holds title (verify that this is your seller), the legal description (title companies do not insure addresses only legal descriptions and it must be correct), the proposed buyer and sales price (coverage amount for the owners policy), and the name of the lender and loan amount (coverage amount for the loan policy). You will also want to check that the commitment is countersigned by the insurance company.

Schedule B Section I – Requirements

This section outlines requirements to be addressed prior to closing in order to obtain coverage. You can expect to find information regarding paying off the sellers existing mortgage/lien, obtaining release of liens on the title, recording new loan documents, Taxes and HOA dues past due and current, and correcting errors in title. Fulfilling these requirements are sometimes as simple as providing documentation to the title company.

Schedule B Section II – Exceptions

This section lists things that will not be covered under your policy such as HOA restrictions, mineral and water rights, utility and access easements, encroachments, plat restrictions, liens not found in public record, etc. Most things you will find here are pretty standard however, you must review this section carefully as it may impact the way you use your property and ownership.

Investing in real estate is an important decision. When choosing a lender, be sure to select an experienced one that will walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Investor Loan Source is happy to assist you along the the way.

ARV, LTV and LTC: What Does it All Mean?

Lenders often use these acronyms to define their loan products. Understanding these terms will help you to choose the right lender for your project.

ARV: After Repair Value

This term is used by appraisers to tell the value of a structure once all items on the scope of work (SOW) have been completed. Most lenders will loan a percentage of this valuation to a borrower and then hold the repair funds in escrow.

LTV: Loan to Value

This term is used to define the amount a lender will loan on a particular property in reference to the valuation. For instance, if you are looking to buy an investment property that has an appraisal of 100,000 and your lender loans 70% LTV, then you can expect a loan on this property for 70K. If your contract for purchase is for 80,000, then you must bring at least 10,000 to closing. If it is under, you may be able to cash out.

LTC: Loan to Cost

Some lenders use this to tell us the percentage of funding one can expect on a purchase. Sometimes this is regulated by the state. For instance, if a lender tells you that they loan 90% LTC, you can expect to receive a loan of 90,000 when your purchase price is 100,000. This means you will have to bring the difference to closing.

How They Work Together

Let’s imagine that Sam has a rehab property under contract for 60,000. He needs to invest 20,000 into this property for repairs, bringing his total loan amount to 80,000. His ARV appraisal states that after his work is done on the property it will be worth 100,000. However, Sam’s lender only loans 70% ARV and 90% LTC. Since the property is under contract for 60,000 the lender will only loan 90% of that amount which is 54,000. In this scenario the lender agrees to loan 100% of the repairs (which will be held in escrow) up to the after repair value of 70% which is 70,000. Since the contract is for 60,000 and the loan amount on the contract will be 54,000 there is 16,000 left to use towards repairs, meeting the 70% ARV or 70,000. Remember that Sam needs 80,000 total and that is what the appraisal was based on. Therefore, Sam must bring the difference to closing which is 10,000.

Let’s look at another example. Imagine that Mary has a rental property she is looking to refinance. The appraisal comes in “AS IS” at 80,000. Mary still owes 30,000 on her lien leaving her with 50,000 in equity. Her lender agrees to loan 70% of the LTV an 100% of the LTC. In this case she would get a loan for 56,000. Of that 30,000 would pay off her prior lien leaving her with 26,000 to cash out on. In this scenario Mary is only paying her closing costs. Please note that in some cases lenders will allow you to roll in closing cost fees.

Find a Lender You Can Trust

Finding a lender you can trust is essential in this business. Understanding their loan thresholds can help you to evaluate deals before you invest a significant amount of time into a project that may ultimately not work for your circumstance. Be sure to choose your lender that will explain the loan terms and any items that you don’t fully understand.

Debt vs. Equity

With so many options out there for real estate investors to choose from, understanding the pros and cons of debt vs. equity deals will help you make an informed decision.

What is a Debt Deal?

When investing in a debt deal you are the lender on a property. In exchange, you are promised a set rate of return dependent on your investment amount. Principal is either paid back throughout the life of the loan or in a balloon payment after a pre-determined amount of time. Examples of debt deals are real estate notes/mortgage-backed securities and real estate debt funds.

Pro’s of Debt Deals

Less risk – You become the lien holder and are granted certain rights, such as foreclosure, in the case your borrower defaults on the agreed upon terms

Steady Income – debt deals are great for those investors who depend on the income. They have a predictable payment schedule (usually monthly or quarterly) and pay the pre-determined rate.

Shorter lock-in periods – Most debt instruments have a life span between 6 and 24 months or until project completion. This is an ideal time-period for persons not willing to tie up their funds in any one asset for extended periods of time. 

Con’s of Debt Deals

Capped Rate – Since your earnings are pre-determined there is no chance to profit more if the project is uber successful. Less risk equals less return.

Pre-Payments – There is always the chance that your borrower may pay off the loan early. This can leave you looking for a place to re-deploy funds sooner than expected. You also risk the chance of not recouping your investment fees and interrupting your expected income.

Higher Fees – Most debt investing opportunities include a fee for bringing you the opportunity. They could potentially pass the origination fees on to you in addition to legal document prep of the transfer documents and recording fees.

No voice – As a lender you have no say in how the project is run. The owner retains this right.

What are Equity Deals?

Equity deals are real estate investment opportunities where you take part ownership in the project. Returns can come in the form of cash flow produced by the asset such as rent, and your share of that return is dependent on your investment amount. When the property is sold or refinanced you too take a percentage of profit. Equity deals can be offered as one-off opportunities, equity syndications, REIT’s, etc.

Pro’s of Equity Deals

No cap on returns – Investors can generate higher returns than they might in a debt deal since returns are based on the performance of the asset.

Hedge against inflation – Real estate appreciates over time and keeps pace with inflation. When the cost of living goes up your cost of ownership does not. Rents are raised and the value of your property investment rises as well. As an equity holder you share in the profit spun from this. Be sure your investment takes advantage of the buy low, sell high mantra!

Tax advantages– You can dramatically reduce your tax liability each year through depreciation. Real estate owners (not lenders) can benefit from this. Always consult your CPA for the pro’s and con’s of any investment and how they might personally effect you.

Con’s of Equity Deals

Risk – Higher reward equals higher risk. There is no guarantee your asset will perform well or even as expected. You run the risk of losing some or all of your investment.

Holding Period – Equity deals are usually accompanied by lengthy hold times and no liquidity.

Before committing to any investment, you should do your research. Learn everything you can about the investment and those offering it. Have your attorney help evaluate the legal paperwork and point out risk. Ask your CPA what the tax implications are for this investment in direct correlation to your situation. Do not be afraid to ask questions to those offering the investment. You want to be well versed in your investment so you can have peace of mind.

In addition, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my tolerance for risk?
  • Am I dependent on this income and need to know exactly what to expect and when?
  • What is my need for liquidity?

There is no blanket right or wrong answer to these questions. However, truthfully answering these questions can help you to decide what type of real estate investments you should be considering: Debt, Equity, or both! 

The In’s and Out’s of Due Diligence

The Importance of Due Diligence

When investing in real estate proper due diligence is one of the most important keys to success. There are many issues that can arrive after closing that could have been prevented with a little homework. Thankfully, many professional underwriters and lending companies will aide in this endeavor once a contract has been accepted.

The due diligence period generally refers to a set amount of time one has to investigate the aspects of the property after a contract is accepted and before closing. During this time the buyer may back out of the contract for any reason without repercussions. Generally, the length of time is pre-determined by either the state (usually 10-15+ days) or agreed upon in the contract and begins when escrow is opened.

Every lender and title company will have a set list of what they require to complete what they believe is proper due diligence on an investment. This not only protects them but you as the buyer. However, not everyone’s requirements and parameters are the same. A private individual lender may require very little due diligence to be done while the bank will have you jumping through hoops. Knowing what to look for and expect is crucial in this business regardless of if you are doing it all yourself or leveraging your team.

Buyer’s Due Diligence

  • Physical Inspection – plumbing, structural, roof, HVAC, pests, septic, well, etc.
  • Crime (including sex offender) statistics
  • Upcoming building plans in the neighboring area / Zoning
  • Talk with neighbors to get the inside scoop on the area
  • Median Household Income
  • Surrounding Rental Rates
  • School Rankings
  • Repair Quotes (if applicable)
  • Estimate your Debt to Service Coverage Ratio – DSCR (if applicable)
  • Review of Seller’s Disclosures
  • Property Rights
  • Submit all requested documents to lender
  • Review all legal documents for accuracy and understanding

Lender’s Due Diligence

  • Review of all documents for accuracy and suitability
  • Contract / Assignment – review terms and make sure the seller has the right to sell property etc.
  • Deed or Proof of Ownership – review chain of custody
  • Interior and Exterior Photos
  • Scope of Work / Lease Agreements
  • Bank Statements
  • Background Checks – this can include criminal, credit, tax liens, death index, bankruptcy, lawsuit history, etc.
  • Insurance Quotes – verify amount, terms, address, type (hazard, flood, windstorm, vacant, occupied, builder’s risk, commercial etc), and insured names
  • Flood Determination – what flood zone does the property lie in
  • Corporate Docs (if applicable)
    • Certificate of Formation
    • Certificate of Filing
    • Operating Agreements
    • Amendments
    • Resolutions
    • FEIN or W-9
  • Entity Search – verify the entity is active and managing members
  • Driver’s License (state ID’s) – citizenship
  • Social Security or W-9
  • Contact Information from borrower
  • Appraisal / Survey – Value of property and boundary lines
  • Permits
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) – restrictions and verify dues are up to date
  • Verify Taxes are Current and that there are no liens
  • Review of Title Commitment
    • Legal Descriptions
    • Policy Amount
    • Encroachments / Easements
    • Liens – Verify Clear Title / Judgements
  • Review of Loan Package and Closing Disclosure


  • Phase 1 Environmental (if applicable) and Phase 2 if needed
  • Proposed Plat Changes
  • Drawings / Spec’s
  • Executive Summary
  • Rent Roll
  • Feasibility Study
  • Pro-Forma P&L

Ready to Invest?

This list is in no way meant to be used as a complete guide to due diligence, but it aims to serve as a starting point. There are many things to consider when investing in real estate and are often driven by one’s school of thought. Asset based lenders vs. credit-based lenders will have varying requirements, as well those investors who invest in fix-n-flip, rental, and commercial loans. The bottom line here is to do your homework throughout the entire process. Make sure you ask lots of questions and that you understand the legal documentation you are signing. Consult with your lawyer or financial advisor if you have questions or are still unsure. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if you find an issue during the due diligence period that the seller refuses to fix or can’t. Better to lose a small sum of cash than to get in over your head. Be sure to partner up with a lender that you can trust. Now that you are armed with this knowledge, get out there and find some deals!

Calculating DSCR

If you are a part of the real estate investing world, then you probably have heard that properly calculating a property’s debt to service coverage ratio (DSCR) is crucial. If you are newer to investing, you may wonder why it is so important. Lenders use this equation to determine if a rental investment property’s cash flow is enough to cover their borrower’s loan payment in addition to all re-occurring expenses. As a borrower, the DSCR can help you gauge the profitability of your project saving you time and money.

The formula is quite simple, but first you must learn another acronym, PITIA. PITIA stands for property, interest, taxes, insurance, and association (HOA). These are the most common re-occurring expenses taken into consideration by a lender.

To calculate the DSCR take your annual rental income (numerator) and divide it by the property’s annual PITIA (denominator). The result is your DSCR. Anything below a 1 means you have negative cash flow and would be an unlikely candidate for approval.

Be sure to check with your lender regarding their DSCR requirements. As a rule of thumb, shoot for a DSCR above a 1.25. Remember, the higher the number the better chance for profitability. You can also find a DSCR calculator online at

How to Add Value to Investment Properties

Everyone wants to get the most BANG for their buck when it comes to real estate investing, but where to start can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to accomplish just that and increase the value of your fix and flip property.

Add a fresh coat of paint.

The older your property is the more likely it will need a new paint job inside and out. Stick to neutral colors, as the majority of people may not share the previous owners love of red walls. A dove, oatmeal, or cream color are great choices for inside as they go well with most décor. A lighter color will also make your interior rooms appear larger.

If your interior is covered in dark wood paneling, consider removing it. This trend went out in the 70’s and we can say, “good riddance!” Another option would be to paint over it. Many beautiful renovations choose a soft neutral white to brighten the space. Pair it with a light beige or gray on the walls and it will look beautiful, while staying within budget.

For the exterior, power washing can do wonders and remove years of dirt and grime. If a new paint job is in order, then do not hesitate. You can also consider replacing exterior doors and doing some simple landscaping – at the very least mow the yard. This will help your curb appeal and entice buyers.

Trash the carpet?

Flooring decisions should be based on the condition of the flooring, the price range of the home, and your budget. First, check under the carpet to make sure you do not already have wood floors. You may luck out. If you do, a quick refinish can save you a ton of money.

Consider keeping existing floors if they are in good condition and are consistent with what buyers expect and demand in that particular market and price range. If you do trash the carpet, be sure to select a flooring option that is within your budget and will add value to the property. For example, you don’t want to blow your budget and install premium hardwood floors in a home that you plan to sell for $100,000. Manufactured wood, tile and/or carpet may be the better option.

Upgrade light fixtures.

Outdated light fixtures can easily date your home.  Conduct a quick web search to find more appealing options that will modernize the space. This quick fix can change the entire tone of a room and is well worth it.

Also, consider changing out your light switch and outlet coverings. If your electrical allows for it see if you can install a dimmer.

Upgrade the appliances.

Stainless steel, matching, and energy efficient appliances can help increase the value of your property. If you find dents on the doors to your appliances consider replacing just the door. 

Consider bathroom upgrades.

If you can add another bathroom, do it. Even a half-bath can increase your home value by 10% +/- in some areas. If that is not in the cards, focus on updating the ones you have. Regrouting the tile, removing the tacky wallpaper and replacing old shower fixtures can do wonders for your space. Opt for a new vanity, frame the mirror, build a vanity – the options are endless and all will help the home show better.

Add a bedroom.

Another way to add value to the home is adding bedrooms. This may not always be an option, but there are ways to add bedrooms without adding square footage to the home. One idea is to turn an existing study into a bedroom by adding a closet. This can be an easy alternative that adds significant value to your investment without breaking the bank.

Don’t forget to deep clean.

This should be common sense and part of everyone’s rehab process. A little elbow grease never hurt anyone and if you simply just do not have the time, consider hiring professional cleaning service. Otherwise, a dirty home may be a red flag for prospective buyers who may assume that the home was not well taken care of. Be sure to remove stains from the carpet (if you decided to keep them), make sure your bathrooms are mold and mildew free, clean the baseboards, etc.

Upgrade the kitchen cabinets.

Depending on your budget and condition of your existing cabinets, you may not need to completely replace them. Consider splashing a new coat of paint on them and replacing the door pulls. This simple step will help to update your kitchen in a major way.

Replace windows.

Replacing older windows will give you the chance to update the look of your home. Be sure to opt for energy efficient options, as this will significantly add value to your investment project.

Remember that you do not have to do it all. Chances are you have some major big-ticket items that must be taken care of first.  When considering rehab, especially the cosmetic stuff, always consider your target buyer, location, and budget. If your rehab is in a lower income area you may want to skip the fancy modern light fixtures no matter how good of a deal you get on them. Prioritize and spend money on what matters.

Talk with industry professionals about the right updates for your project. Discussing these options with a hard money lender you can trust will help ensure you make choices that will increase the value of your real estate investment, without blowing the budget. Be sure to include a contingency in your scope of work to help cover unexpected expenses and stick to your budget. Many new flippers get wrapped up in the fun of cosmetic upgrades opting for unnecessary improvements and imposing their personal style preferences. Always remember that your fix and flip property is an investment, not your forever home. Focus on what matters and choose the best renovations for resale.   

Commercial Real Estate Terms Investors Should Know

Commercial real estate is in a league of its own when it comes to the real estate world. Evaluations, terminology, due diligence, and requirements all change when one ventures into this type of investment. Here are a few popular terms to help you feel more confident in this arena:

Real Estate Broker A licensed real estate agent/firm that has completed additional training and who negotiates deals between buyers and sellers serving as intermediaries.

Letter of Intent (LOI) – a pre-agreement between two parties to hold terms while due diligence is being conducted and finalized terms are being set.

Executive Summary – Summarization of the proposed business plan. Gives an outline of strategy, management, financial projections, exit plan, descriptions, property details, improvement, etc. This is usually the first document potential lenders/investors see and will determine whether they decide to move forward on a deal and learn more.

Building Classifications – Industry standard divides commercial buildings into three letter classifications to help investors better understand a potential investment.

(Classifications can be upgraded through renovations)

  • Class A: These are the best quality buildings in said market area. Rents are typically above average; buildings are newer with better amenities and fewer maintenance issues. Class A investments generally hold the least amount of risk.
  • Class B: These would be considered your “average” properties that command average market rents, have mid-grade cosmetics, show slight wear and tear and are usually a bit older than your Class A’s.
  • Class C: These properties tend to have the most maintenance issues but are the most affordable of all classes, so they are often in demand.

Net Operating Income (NOI) – A standard real estate formula, used by lenders and borrowers alike, to determine the potential profitability of a commercial property in relation to operating costs.  This is calculated by subtracting the operating expenses from the total income of the property.

Balance Sheet– a report which includes a list of a company’s assets, liabilities, equity capital and debt at a point in time.

Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) – is a record of revenue, cost, and expenses incurred by a business in a given period of time.

Pro Forma – A report that outlines a properties future projected potential cash flow. This can be found by subtracting the projected future expenses from the gross rental income minus vacancy rate.

Capitalization (CAP) Rate – A formula used to determine what a potential investor’s return will be on a property. Net Operating Income/Property Value = Cap Rate

Rent Roll – a document that shows rental income (present and historical) from a real estate asset. This information is then used in many formulas to determine profitability.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR AKA DCR) – The annual net operating income from a property divided by the annual cost of debt service (Insurance, Taxes, HOA fees, etc). A DSCR below 1 means the property is generating insufficient clash flow to cover debt payments.

Scope of Work – a document that outlines work to be completed and estimated cost for materials and labor on a specific property. This document will be used to determine loan amounts and the After Repair Value (ARV)

Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) –  a report often required by  your state and or lender for commercial acquisitions that identifies  the existence or potential for environmental contamination liabilities.  This is one of the first steps in commercial due diligence. If contamination is found a Phase II assessment may be performed.

Easement – a legal right to use another person’s property for a specific public or private purpose written into public records.  Easements can be created for a variety of reasons. Common easements include driveways, fences, utility, etc. These should be listed in your title commitment.

Encroachment – The intrusion of a structure that extends, without permission, over a property line, easement boundary or set back line. This can be found out by conducting a survey.

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or lease commercial real estate, knowing these commercial real estate terms will benefit your business. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions, like determining if a property is a good commercial real estate investment. It will also help you prepare for conversations you will have with potential lenders when looking at commercial real estate loans. Armed with the right knowledge and vocabulary, you will be ready to dive into the world of commercial real estate investing and have the important conversations needed to grow your investment portfolio.

How To Start Investing in Real Estate

Thinking of investing in real estate, but not sure how to begin? First and foremost, know that you are not alone. Real estate investing is a great way to build your wealth, but when you have little to no experience it can seem a bit overwhelming.

Do Your Research.

We have all heard the old adage that knowledge is power, and it still holds true today. One of the best pieces of advice one can be given is to do their research. In this day and age, there is no excuse not to. So much information is available to us instantaneously. Begin by learning popular real estate terms. So often I get asked the definition for “ARV” and “deed of trust”. Arming yourself with the basic understanding of the lingo is imperative.

Time is of the essence, and most people feel they do not have enough of it. However, if you are serious about real estate investing you will find time. Listen to a podcast, eBook, or real estate talk radio while you are driving in the car, working out, or as you drift off to sleep. This is a great way to get your head in the game and learn while doing it.

Grow Your Network.

Your network equals your net worth! Surround yourself with like-minded people. There are so many avenues one can pursue with real estate investing, but one thing is certain, you will need trustworthy, competent people at your side. Do your research and build your network. Most large cities have Real Estate Investment Association groups (REIA’s) which are great places to learn the industry while making contacts. Many teach classes on real estate investing, tell both success and horror stories, and introduce you to reputable industry professionals and investments. Lenders, title companies, contractors, CPA’s, real estate attorneys and real estate agents are all worth getting to know. Leverage the experience and the field of expertise of those around you.  These people will help you grow your business/investments setting you up for success.

Find a Mentor.

An ideal mentor is an experience investor with time and knowledge to share. They can help you stay on track, keep focused, and guide you in the right direction. Be sure to ask lots of questions. Find out what your mentor did to become successful and mimic it.

Assess Yourself.

Next, you will need to do an honest assessment of yourself and your situation. You do not always need a lot of cash on hand or a perfect credit score to take advantage real estate investments. However, knowing your limitations will help set you up for success. 

Other questions you will need to ask yourself is how much time you have to dedicate to your real estate investments. If you have a full-time job, volunteer three times a week, and must keep your schedule as well as your kids, you might be better suited for a passive investment. One that does not take a lot of your time. Therefore, a fix and flip project may not be best suited to your situation. Semi-passive to passive options like real estate notes might work best for you.

Decide on the amount of risk you are willing to take. Do you have extensive knowledge in the industry and a pool of cash for investments that would allow you to go after those high-risk high-reward opportunities? If so, commercial deals might be your niche. Are you close to retirement and principal preservation is imperative, consider funds or REIT’s? Do you need passive monthly income? Consider a rental property. There are both aggressive and conservative options out there and knowing which category you are comfortable in will help guide you to the right investment.

Additional items to consider are the type of funds you are looking to invest; cash or structured funds (IRA’s, 401K, etc). If you, will you be investing as an entity or as an individual and what the taxing consequences might be in direct correlation to your situation (seek the advice of a CPA). Look at state laws and how they might affect your investment. These questions can be deciding factors.

Find a Trustworthy Lender.

Most new investors have limited cash resources. If that is your situation, consider finding a lender who can help you. There are private lenders, banks, hard money lenders and others out there who can help you get started. Even seasoned investors often use outside financial resources to help them grow their investment portfolio. Be sure to do your research and ensure your lender is trustworthy and deserves your business. Ask for referrals or ask your real estate networking group if you are having trouble finding good lenders.

Make Your Dream a Reality.

Once you have done these things go out and find your investment, do the leg work, and make your dream a reality. Remember to be realistic in your expectations and set goals. Do not overextend yourself either mentally or financially. Keep your mentor close, leverage the experience of industry professionals and never forget that your knowledge and network are the two most important things in your arsenal. This is how you will set yourself up for success.

Questions Investors Should Ask Prospective Lenders

Hard money lending is a quick and easy financing solution to fund real estate investments, such as rental properties, rehab financing, fix and flips and even commercial bridge loans. Finding the right lender to meet your unique needs is not always easy. Here are some questions to ask when determining the right lender for you and your investment business.

1. How long will it take you to fund my loan after my application is complete?

Without a doubt, time is money in the real estate investment business. Hard money lenders should be able to approve and fund a hard money loan within 2 weeks. Sometimes lenders can fund deals within 3-5 days. It’s important to note here that it’s critical that you must have all the required documents and items in for your application to be complete. Lenders can get you funded more quickly if you stay on top of completing your application. It also can be helpful to use the same lender for multiple deals, especially if they offer technology and resources like a user loan portal to make the loan process more efficient for investors.

2. Will you provide a pre-approval letter I can use to submit with my offers?

Finding good deals for fix and flip properties is already tough and competitive. Buyers who don’t already have a property under contract and intend to begin making offers soon will have a greater chance of having their offers accepted if they also submit a pre-approval from an experienced hard money lender. It’s important to ask your potential lender if they provide pre-approval letters so you don’t miss out on a good property.

3. Will I work with someone who is knowledgeable about my business and projects?

Not all lenders have experience and knowledge in the game of real estate investing. Choosing a lender that has first-hand experience in the business of flipping homes and investing in real estate is a game changer. Investor Loan Source was created by real estate investors who know your unique needs and understand the market. 

4. Do you offer loan extensions? 

It’s important to understand if an extension would be available for your loan due to unforeseen circumstances. Establishing this with a lender before you need an extension can be less costly than needing to ask for one once you’ve taken out the loan.

5. Will there be a prepayment penalty if I pay my loan off before the full term is up?

It’s common for many lenders to have a small prepayment penalty when a minimum amount of interest must be paid on the loan. In many situations the prepayment penalty will not affect the borrower in any way. Find out if there are any pre-payment penalties and make sure it works for your proposed timeline.

6. What loan to value of the after repair value are you able to offer?

Hard money lenders loan out based on the after repair value (ARV) of the asset. The loan to value ratio (LTV) of the (ARV) is the loan amount the lender will allow based on the fixed up value of the property. This ratio can vary from lender to lender. The LTV/ARV percentage will also vary based on the property type and age. It’s essential that you find out the answer to this question early in the game to avoid big road blocks and ultimately having to find a different lender or rule out a property.

7. Do you work with customers with imperfect credit?

Many investors worry that they will not be able to qualify for a loan if they don’t have a high credit score. Hard money lenders usually lend based on the project and property itself vs. the buyers creditworthiness. They are a great resource for buyers who have had some hiccups in their credit history. It’s important for you to ask if they have a minimum credit score in the very beginning. Your rate and points charged may be effected some, but oftentimes hard money lenders will not turn you down based on your credit score alone.

8. Do you have any references?

A good, reliable hard money lender will be able to offer references from investors who have borrowed from them in the past. If the lender is unable to provide any positive references, they may not be the right lender for you.

9. What are your interest rates and how many points do you charge?

Points and interest rates vary across regions and by lender. The type of loan is an important determining factor. For instance, fix and flip loan interest rates are often higher than rates for purchasing a rental property to buy and hold. The riskiness of the project also affects the interest rate. In general, hard money loan rates are higher than traditional mortgage loans due to the risk involved.  In both traditional loans and hard money loans, interest rates and points charged vary based on a borrowers credit history.

10. What loan products do you offer?

Many investors have different types of properties in their real estate investment portfolio. It’s essential to find a lender that has unique products to fit your unique needs. At Investor Loan Source, we offer a wide variety of loans – fix and flip, rental, wrapable, one-time close fix to rent and commercial loans to help grow your business.

In order to be successful in investing it’s important to find the lender that is right for you and your business. If you’d like to learn more about Investor Loan Source or our products, visit, call us at 409-735-6267, or reach us via email at