Fairfield Financial Services, Inc. - Private Money Loans, Lending & Borrowing

Everything you wanted to know about private money but were afraid to ask

Clay Sparkman

(Note: I posted the following on my broker blog recently. It is oriented to toward brokers, but at the same time, I think it would be quite useful to those trying to get a handle on investing in private money loans and trying to better understand the process.)

Private money is often misunderstood. Many industry professionals know very little about it, and fallacies and misconceptions tend to dominate the collective wisdom. As you know, as a subscriber to this list, I have made it my mission to try to educate professionals regarding the realities of private money. In this capacity, I spend a lot of time answering questions about private money. I figured it was about time to prepare a FAQ on private money and share it with this group. So here you go.
-What is private money used for?

Private money is generally used as a bridge: a way to get from point A to point B. It is generally a short to medium term solution (1-6 years), and there is nearly always an exit strategy going in. It is used for all types of real estate secured financing: commercial retail, restaurants, hotels/motels, marinas, elder care facilities, industrial, agricultural, raw land, land development, construction, rehab, multi-family, single family homes, manufactured homes, and floating homes. For a list of our private money loan programs, click here.

-What are the interest rates?

Private money rates generally range from 10 to 15%. The rate is determined by looking at a combination of factors: (a) LTV ratio, (b) strength of borrower, (c) condition/desirability of property, (d) actual cash-in or real equity contributed by borrower. Typically our rates fall in the 12-13% range. A list of our loan guidelines may be found here.

-What fees are involved?

We charge a loan fee generally equal to 5% of the gross amount of the loan. We also charge a doc prep fee ($675 or more, depending on the size of the loan), a property inspection fee ($500 or more, depending on the location of the property), and a collection account setup fee ($470 or more, depending on the size of the loan). There are no hidden junk fees.

-Can the fees be paid from the proceeds of the loan?

Yes, if there is enough equity in the project. This is frequently the case.

-Is there a pre-payment penalty?

Most of our loans have no pre-payment penalty.
-Why would anyone pay those kinds of rates and fees for a loan?

There are many reasons why a borrower would choose to use private money over a cheaper institutional option. For example, professional real estate investors like to use private money when buying because they are able to make offers which are not constrained by long timelines and numerous rigid conditions. Often times speed is a very significant factor in completing a profitable transaction and in those cases it often makes sense to pay for a short-term private money option rather than loose the deal. Frequently the condition of a property won’t allow for the initial financing with conventional money, and in those cases private money may be used. Often the type of property is a factor: banks don’t like lending on raw land and lots, but private money lenders are more inclined to do so. Cash leverage is another factor. Fairfield Financial, for example, loans based on the true value of a property, not the purchase price, so sometimes we lend most of the acquisition cost for a property.. The structure of the deal may be a factor. Most private money lenders allow the buyer to establish their equity through the mechanism of a seller carry back; banks won’t do this. The list goes on and on.

-What is the most common use for private money?

Our most common loans are probably construction, rehab, and land development loans. We have an entire FAQ devoted to these loans at: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/articles/rehabfaq.php

-How fast can private money loans close?

We have been known to close loans in a matter of a few days, but more typically, you should figure on 10-15 business days. (Keep in mind that it is only possible for us to move quickly if the borrower, broker and other third parties are moving quickly as well.)

-is an appraisal required?

Some private money lenders require them. We don’t. Evidence of value is a critical part of the private money loan process. However, it is our opinion that a good set of comps is just as effective in establishing value as a good appraisal. Many of our borrowers are professional investors, and we feel that they are qualified to perform the value analysis. This allows us to streamline the process. However, it is important to note that putting together a god set of comps is hard work. See the following article on our website for a detailed description of how to prepare a proper value analysis: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/articles/comps.php

-As a mainstream mortgage broker, I don’t see much of this type of thing. Why should I be interested in private money?

To be perfectly frank, it is my belief that mainstream mortgage brokers are being squeezed out of the industry. Lenders are ramping up their operations to better provide online loan sourcing directly to borrowers. We saw a similar thing in the travel industry over the past years. The travel agents that have survived, and even thrived, are the ones who effectively established niches within the industry. It is my belief that the same will be true for mortgage brokers. Plain vanilla loans can be easily processed in an assembly line fashion which easily translates to the world of the novice and a web browser. Niche lending, on the other hand, tends to be a hand-crafting of sorts, and cannot be easily automated. Look at private money. There are no absolute rules. Many factors must be considered in making a decision and frequently those factors are intangible. Ultimately a high degree of thought work and common sense is involved. Private money will always be a people process. So if you tell me, I am not interested in private money because I don’t do unusual loans, I say to you, You might want to reconsider.

-As a mortgage broker bringing you this transaction, how do I get paid?

It is simple. You bring us a borrower. We price the loan to you. (Think of yourself as a wholesale buyer.) You price the loan to your client, adding your fees as appropriate. You stay involved in the loan (or not) as you choose, and prior to closing, you submit a fee demand to escrow and receive a check directly from the title company. For more information on this topic, see: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/brokers.php

-Why do they call it hard money?

It is difficult to find an answer to this question. I’ve heard plenty of speculation. Some people say that it’s because the money is used for hard to do loans. Others say it is because the loans are hard to get or hard to pay. It is my belief that it is called hard money because traditionally it has been real money in the sense that it is not borrowed. Institutions loan borrowed money, and in this sense they loan soft money. However, I must point out that things have changed a bit over the years, and these days a good deal of hard money is in fact borrowed. (I would guess as much as 50%.)

-How do I go about doing a private money loan with Fairfield Financial?

There are basically four steps.
(1) First, run the concept by us. The best way to get started is to provide us with a high level summary of the loan. You may e-mail a summary, or you may use our online submission engine, which will walk you through the process. It is quite simple to use. You will find that at: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/loanproposal.php
(2) If we like the project concept and feel that the numbers are acceptable, we provide you with a rough quote.

(3) Once you approve the rough quote, we provide you with a list of items that we need to receive and review in packet form.
(4) We then review this loan packet. We ask that this be sent via overnight mail or send via e-email, as a single Adobe or Word attachment.
(5) If all this checks out, we ask the borrower for a deposit (average amount = $1,000). This should be in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. We provide a conditional loan commitment letter at this time.

(6) We send someone out to inspect the property.
(7) If the property checks out, we draw up the documents and close the loan through escrow.

-Is the deposit check refundable?

If we close the loan through escrow, the deposit is applied as a credit to the loan fees. If we don’t close the loan because (a) the borrower does not or cannot perform or (b) the project upon inspection is “significantly” different than as represented, we keep the deposit to reimburse us for our costs. Otherwise, if Fairfield fails to perform for any reason, we return the deposit to the borrower.

-What needs to be included in a private money loan package?

As I said, we provide a list specific to your loan scenario. However, if for a list of our general packaging guidelines, please see the following: http://www.privatemoneysource.com/packaging.php

– Clay (sparkman@lendicom.com, 503-476-2909 or 800-971-1858)

Clay is Vice President of Fairfield Financial, a primary source for private money loans since 1964.  Fairfield works with a broad range of private money investors, in a broker capacity, finding, underwriting, presenting, closing, servicing, and when necessary, assisting in the workout of difficult loans.



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