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What Is Hard Money Lending? Everything You Need To Know

Written by Paul Esajian

If you’ve ventured into the world of real estate investment, or are looking to do so, you’ve likely encountered the term “hard money lending.” But what is hard money lending, exactly? This article aims to demystify hard money loans, a form of financing that plays a crucial role in many real estate transactions. Understanding what hard money lending is can open new avenues for property investments, particularly in scenarios where traditional financing methods fall short.

What is a Hard Money Loan?

A hard money loan is a type of financing typically used in real estate transactions, where the loan is secured by the property itself. Unlike traditional bank loans, where creditworthiness of the borrower is a primary factor, hard money lenders are more concerned with the value of the property that serves as collateral. These loans are often short-term, ranging from six months to a few years, and are favored in investment scenarios where quick funding is essential.

There are various types of hard money loans, including bridge loans, which provide temporary financing until a long-term loan or next phase of financing is obtained; construction loans for real estate developers; and fix-and-flip loans, tailored for properties that need renovation before they can be sold.

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How Does Hard Money Lending Work?

The process of obtaining a hard money loan typically involves a few key steps. First, the borrower approaches a hard money lender with a prospective property. The lender evaluates the property’s value and the project’s potential. Unlike traditional lending, the focus here is on the asset, not the borrower’s credit score or income.

What distinguishes hard money lending from traditional loans is this focus on property value and the investment opportunity it represents, rather than the borrower’s financial history. This makes it a viable option for investors who might not qualify for traditional financing due to credit issues or other financial constraints.

Why Use Hard Money?

Hard money loans shine in specific real estate scenarios. They are ideal for fix-and-flip projects, where an investor needs to purchase, renovate, and sell a property within a short time frame. Traditional financing can be too slow or inflexible for such projects. Hard money loans also benefit real estate developers who need immediate funding to start a project or land purchases where a traditional loan might not be feasible.

One key advantage of hard money lending is the speed at which these loans can be processed, often within days, which is critical in real estate markets where opportunities move quickly.

Hard Money Loan Rates and Terms

The terms of hard money loans, including interest rates and points, can vary widely. Interest rates for these loans tend to be higher than traditional mortgage loans, reflecting the higher risk taken by the lender. They typically range from 8% to 15%. Points, or upfront fees paid to the lender, are also a factor, usually ranging from 2% to 4% of the loan amount.

Loan terms are another crucial aspect. Most hard money loans are short-term, generally lasting from six months to a few years. This short duration reflects their typical use in investment scenarios where quick turnover is expected.

The Pros And Cons Of Hard Money Loans

I maintain that hard money loans represent one of the single most advantageous funding opportunities for investors to take advantage of. If any, few sources of capital can compete on the same level as hard money and offer the same competitive edge. It is hard money loans, after all, that many investors have to thank for acquiring their deals in the first place. Despite its superior benefits, there are downsides to hard money that warrant the consideration of every investor.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hard money so you can decide for yourself.


Securing financing with a hard money lending loan offers you a number of benefits, including:

  • Quick Funding: The most significant advantage is the speed at which these loans can be processed, often within a few days. This rapid financing is essential in competitive real estate markets.

  • Flexibility: Hard money lenders often offer more flexible terms and conditions compared to traditional loans. This can include flexible repayment schedules and loan-to-value ratios.

  • Collateral: The primary focus is on the value of the property, not the borrower’s credit score or financial history. This can benefit investors who may not qualify for traditional loans.

  • Ideal for Short-Term Projects: Perfect for projects like fix-and-flips or construction, where the goal is to quickly improve and sell the property.

  • No Prepayment Penalties: Many hard money loans do not have prepayment penalties, allowing borrowers to pay off the loan early if desired.


There are, however, certain disadvantages to using using hard money for real estate investments:

  • Higher Interest Rates: These loans typically have higher interest rates compared to traditional loans, reflecting the higher risk assumed by the lender.

  • Short Repayment Schedule: The repayment period is often much shorter than traditional loans, requiring investors to have a clear, timely exit strategy.

  • Property as Collateral: Since the property is used as collateral, there’s a risk of losing it if the loan isn’t repaid according to the terms.

  • Not Suitable for Long-Term Investments: Due to the short duration and high costs, hard money loans are less suitable for long-term property investments.


How To Find A Hard Money Lender

Many new investors fret over how they will find hard money lenders to get moving on the financing of their project. But here are a couple of simple ways to approach this:

  • REIA or MeetUp Meetings: Often hard money lenders will speak at local real estate events. If not, ask fellow members to see if they know any trustworthy lenders.

  • Real Estate Agent or Traditional Lender: Ask that realtor, or mortgage broker, in your real estate network if they know a hard money lender you could do business with.

  • Google “Hard Money Lender”: Just be careful, there are some unscrupulous individuals out there. Be sure to ask for references and talk to fellow investors to get their opinion.

Alternatives To Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans are not the only form of financing with approval requirements that differ from a traditional home loan. In fact, numerous alternatives may help you buy your next property:

  • Home Equity Loans: If you are trying to finance your second property (or an investment property) consider tapping into your existing equity with a home equity loan. The approval requirements are largely based on the value of the property and the amount of equity you have built up. These loans are also associated with lower interest rates when compared to hard money loans.

  • FHA Loans: Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are an option for borrowers who do not meet the traditional criteria. FHA loans have lower approval requirements and do not consider past financial challenges (namely bankruptcy) during the application process. Read our guide to FHA loans to learn more.

  • VA Loans: Loans by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs require no down payment and have much lower approval standards. These loans are only provided to qualified veterans, active duty service members, and their spouses. The interest rates and application requirements are often much more favorable if you do qualify.


Understanding what is hard money lending can be a game-changer in the world of real estate investment. These loans offer flexibility, speed, and access to funding that might not be available through traditional means. While they come with their own set of risks, like higher rates and shorter repayment terms, the potential benefits make them well worth considering for the right investment opportunities. With this knowledge in hand, you’re better equipped to decide if hard money lending is the right tool for your real estate investment endeavors.

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