10 Questions Real Estate Investors Must Ask Private Money Lenders

Private lending is a financing solution for real estate investors to use for rental properties, rehab financing, fix and flips and even commercial bridge loans. Finding the right lender to meet your needs is not always easy. Here are 10 questions to ask when searching for the right lender for your real estate investment business.

1. 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 fliprental, and commercial loans to help grow your business.

2. 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 borrower’s credit history.

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

Hard money lenders make loans based on the after repair value (ARV) of the property. The loan to value ratio (LTV) of the (ARV) is the loan amount the lender will allow based on the renovated 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 to avoid having to find a different lender or rule out a property.

4. Do you work with customers with less than perfect credit?

Many investors worry they may not qualify for a loan if they don’t have a high credit score. The good news is that many hard money lenders usually lend based on the project and property itself vs. the buyer’s creditworthiness. This is a great resource for buyers who have had some issues on their credit history. However, it’s important for you to ask if the lender requires a minimum credit score. Your rate and points charged may be affected by this, but hard money lenders most likely will not turn you down based on your credit score alone.

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

Time is money in the real estate investment business. Hard money lenders should be able to approve and fund a loan within 2 weeks. Some lenders may fund deals within 3-5 days. Lenders may be able to fund a project more quickly if the real estate investor stays on top of the application process. It may 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 repeat investors. 

6. Is there 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. Ask potential lenders if pre-payment penalties may be applied if the loan is paid off early and make sure it works for your proposed timeline.

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

Finding good deals for fix and flip properties can be competitive. Real estate investors may have a greater chance of having their offers accepted if they submit a pre-approval from an experienced hard money or private 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.

8. 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.

9. Will I work with someone who is knowledgeable about my business and real estate projects?

Not all lenders have experience and knowledge when it comes to real estate investing. Choosing a lender that has first-hand experience in the business of flipping homes and investing in real estate may impact the success of your project. Investor Loan Source was created by real estate investors who know your unique needs and understand the market. 

10. Do you have any references?

A good, reliable hard money lender will be able to offer references from other real estate investors who borrowed from them in the past. If the lender is unable to provide any positive references, it might be a good idea to reconsider doing business with them.

To be successful in real estate investing, it’s important to find a lender that is right for you and your business. If you’d like to learn more about Investor Loan Source or our products, visit www.ils.cash, call us at 409-735-6267, or reach us via email at info@ils.cash.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

How Recent Market Changes Impact Real Estate Investors

The real estate market is changing rapidly. While we can never be sure which direction the economy is heading, investors can make smart decisions to navigate uncertain times. In the video below, Tom Berry discusses ideas real estate investors should consider in this changing market.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

How To Diversify Your Investments

Tom Berry, Co-founder and CEO of Investor Loan Source, is an experienced real estate investor. He shared his thoughts on how to diversify your real estate investment portfolio. One way you can diversify your real estate investment is by asset type. Some investors may have a dozen single-family homes; a good recommendation may be adding a small commercial asset. Check out the video below as Tom Berry goes into more details on diversification of real estate investments.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

How to Find Real Estate Investment Properties

Real estate investors know that a great property could yield great benefits. However, for new real estate investors, finding the perfect property may be a challenge. This guide focuses on ways new investors may be able to find their first investment property.

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Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance.  

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

Advice for Real Estate Investors

Tom Berry, Co-founder and CEO of Investor Loan Source, appeared on the Real Estate Power Play Podcast. He shared his thoughts on the current market and gave advice to real estate investors.

Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

Deal Evaluation: What Makes a Deal a Good Deal?

By Tom Berry

When evaluating a real estate deal, you should always start with the end in mind. For example, with a single-family Fix and Flip, the end goal is selling that house. When you’re looking at a single-family deal you want to flip, always ask yourself, “What can I get out of this house and what is the end value going to be?”  This is where real estate investors may make a mistake.  Some investors will look at comps in the general area of the subject property. However, they are usually comparing their house to houses that are at a different level.  You want to use comps that are of similar size and similar nature to determine what your house is going to sell for when it’s done.  

Additionally, some investors use comps with a high-end fit and finish, but use their rehab budget or a very low-end fit and finish to calculate the value. You can’t put vinyl laminate floors in a house and expect to get the same ARV as a house down the street that has travertine or expensive wood floors. This also goes for kitchen countertops, appliances, etc.  Use houses that are similar to how you’re going to make yours.

House Construction Framing Gradating Into Finished Kitchen Build.

The next step is evaluating the rehab budget. A huge challenge I see often when real estate investors look at their deal is that they calculate the ARV and then look at their rehab budget to find that the numbers don’t work. At this point, they don’t want to walk away from the deal, which they could do, and they don’t want to go back to the seller and try to renegotiate a better price on the house. Instead, they just cut the rehab budget and try to make the deal work.  If you cut your rehab budget, you’re never going to reach your expected ARV.  Cutting the budget just to try to make the numbers work on paper, might work on paper but it is not going to work in practice. Understand that the rehab will need to reach a certain level to hit your expected ARV.

After evaluating the price of the home and the rehab budget, most people think we’re done with an evaluation. The truth is that we are not done! There are other costs that we call hidden costs.  A great example of hidden costs would be the holding cost.  The holding cost includes the cost for an investor to own this project until it is sold. These hidden costs include interest, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and lawn care. As a real estate investor, you must pay those bills the whole time you hold that property. All these costs add up. Before buying a house, it is important to calculate the monthly holding cost. This is done by adding up the monthly cost and dividing by 30 to get the daily cost of holding a property.

What does this do?  It puts a sense of urgency on the investor to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Lastly, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you going to need permits?
  • Are you going to need plans?
  • When can contractors start?
  • When will you be ready for contractors?

It is important to realistically evaluate how long it will take to rehab, market, and close on the project. There are a lot of steps to take, and those steps take time and money. 

Hopefully, this gives you greater insight into what it takes to evaluate a single-family fix and flip deal. As always, if you have a project and you’d like for us to help you with your hard money and private money needs, reach out to us today at 409-735-6267.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

What is a Buy Box?

A buy box is a tool real estate investors use to determine the types of properties they want to purchase. The buy box is usually broken down into columns and details the criteria a property must meet to be considered for purchase. This tool helps real estate investors focus on their goals when analyzing potential real estate deals.

The buy box can consist of standards that are important to the investor. Common criteria may include, but is not limited to location, prices, property type, size of the property, or age of the property. This simple tool helps real estate investors focus on certain properties. If a property does not meet the criteria in a buy box, the investor knows to move on to another project.

The buy box is used as a filter to focus on properties that a real estate investor is truly interested in. Defining the criteria of a buy box also helps investors avoid being overwhelmed by an abundance of real estate opportunities.

The image above shows an example of a buy box. In this example, the real estate investor wants to focus on acquiring small apartment complexes in Houston, TX or Galveston, TX. If a deal presents itself for a property in Dallas, TX our investor may pass on the opportunity because it does not fit the criteria in the buy box.

While a buy box is a useful tool, it can be changed as the investor maneuvers the real estate market. It can be adjusted to redefine goals as a business or investment portfolio grows. Creating a buy box is a great way to stay focused and possibly achieve real estate investing success.

Need help creating a buy box? Download your buy box template HERE!


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

The Value in Fix and Flip Loans

Investor Loan Source offers short-term purchase loans to real estate investors. Finding a lender that understands the value of a fix & flip property is very important. A fix & flip loan can provide the cash you need to grow your real estate portfolio.

Click the video below to hear Tom Berry explain how valuable fix and flip loans are for real estate investors.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

Having Integrity in Business

Integrity is a word that many people are familiar with, but not everyone understands what this means when it comes to doing business with others. Integrity is important because it builds trust and enhances your relationship with business partners and potential clients.

In the video below, Tom Berry shares his thoughts on what it means to have integrity in business.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

Is This a Good Time to Invest in Real Estate? 

By Tom Berry

This is a question I have heard over and over every year since I started investing in real estate. And this question comes in many forms. My favorite is the negative form that goes something like this: “With home prices going up every year for the last decade, why would you want to get in real estate now?” Real estate, like any other investment asset, does fluctuate in price. However, this happens much slower than most other assets. When real estate falls in value, it tends to be for a shorter period, and then up it goes again. 

And of course, all real estate is local. Some high-growth areas didn’t even see price declines in single-family homes during the great recession. Others saw modest short-lived decreases. For these reasons, real estate has been seen as a great long-term investment for centuries. But there are other reasons why I always answer our original question with a resounding YES. 

When someone thinks of investing in real estate, they typically think of flipping or holding rentals of single-family homes in their town or neighborhood. When I think of real estate investing, I divide it into five columns. Then I pick one or two from each column. Here are the categories: Asset Class, Investment Strategy, Market / Sub-Market, Price Point, and Target Profit.

Here are a few options that I may pick from each category. But understand, some of these columns could have dozens of options to choose from.

Again, this is a very short list to show examples of what each list would have. What we are doing here is creating something the professional investors call a buy box. This buy box. Is used as a tool of discipline and efficiency. The buy box helps with discipline because you have set the criteria for what you will buy before ever looking at the first property. Now, all you need to do is stick to your own rules. The buy box helps with efficiency because the second I see a potential property that doesn’t meet my buy box, I discard it and move on to the next one. This allows me to analyze large numbers of potential deals in a short period. 
 
How many times have you heard someone say, “I think we can make it work if we just…?” You can fill in the blank for yourself. This is undisciplined investing. How many times have you heard someone beating that same project up for months trying to make something out of nothing? This is a time-waster and is incredibly inefficient.

Now, taking this conversation full circle, I would also argue that using a buy box allows us to be profitable investors in any market. All we need to do is pick different options from the columns above for the market we are facing at the time. 

Let me explain, in 2008 when I first got into real estate investing full time, we were fixing and flipping single-family homes in greater Houston. We found out quickly that our geography choice was way too large for a two-person team, and we re-adjusted to focus on Galveston County, TX. Mid 2008, as our flips sat on the market, we quickly realized we needed to change direction and switched to single-family homes and traditional rentals in Galveston County, TX with an after rehab value of $120,000 or less with $30,000 equity or more. 

After piling up 28 of those, we changed again in December 2010 to apartment buildings and apartment complexes in Galveston County, TX. This included traditional rentals: $25,000/ door all in or less, 12% CAP Rate or higher. I know! I haven’t seen those numbers since then either. 22 months later, the apartment market started going up again and we stopped buying and went back to houses. 

After accumulating around 425 houses and apartment units, we changed direction again and started selling off the apartments. A couple of years ago, we started selling off the rental houses. Some on owner finance terms and some outright. In the years between, we have bought office buildings, self-storages, single-tenant commercial buildings, a mobile home park, and shopping centers. As the market changes, I change strategy and asset class. This gives us the maximum opportunity to make money at any time. 

Make no mistake, I consider myself a buy & hold investor. I like to hold long-term and rent assets. This allows me to capture appreciation and let my tenants buy my properties for me through rent payments. BUT, if someone offers me more than what I think my property is worth, it’s SOLD! I am not going to hold a 70’s vintage apartment complex for 20 years. I’ll take the upside, and when the market gets hot, I’ll let someone else take on the ownership risk. Then, I will move my chips (equity) to a different table.

So, should you get into real estate investing right now? I don’t care if you are reading this in 2022 or many more years from now; the answer is YES! Although, the HOW you invest may be completely different answers in each case.


Investor Loan Source, a private money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including private money lending for properties to sell on owner finance.