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Creative Financing For Real Estate Investors

For decades the way to finance a property purchase was 80-20, 20 percent down, 80 percent on loan. Certainly, there have been many who put more down, but 20 percent was considered the bare minimum. Happily, things have changed.

There are now a dozen or more ways to finance a property purchase, whether for pure investment or primary residence. One common method is to have more than one loan, usually in the form of a second mortgage. The buyer puts 5 percent in, and effectively borrows the other 15 percent on a separate loan, usually at a much higher interest rate.

While it's nice to invest less for the same property, the downside is not limited to the higher interest rate on the second mortgage loan. Since the buyer doesn't meet the standard 20 percent minimum, lenders almost always require PMI (private mortgage insurance). Fees are usually hefty.

Though it's theoretically possible to have the lender remove the PMI requirement after enough payments have been made it rarely happens. In theory, once the loan(s) have been paid down so that the LTV (loan-to-value ratio) is at 80 percent — usually by a combination of paying down the second mortgage and appreciation of the value of the property — the lender will be willing to consider removing the PMI cost from monthly payments. Most often, before that happens, the loan is refinanced or the property sold.

The ambitious can find other sources of financing. When considering property in a new development, such as a planned community or new housing tract, manufacturers will often be willing to fund a home loan for early buyers. Such loans are frequently available at only 5 percent of the purchase price.

For the really daring it's possible to 'buy' a property, then sell it, without ever owning it — at least not for long. It's possible to buy a property, establish a contract, and then sell the contract for anywhere from $500-$5,000 without ever taking possession or even being on the title. Profits are usually smaller, but obtained quicker, though deals require excellent credit.

'Sub2' deals are another form of creative financing. The typical 'subject-to' deal involves having a seller deed you the property while leaving the existing mortgage in place. You never legally assume the loan, but simply start making the payments. There are lots of variations on this new way of buying property. Not recommended for the beginner.

You can finance a property investment by forming a limited partnership. Arrangements cover the spectrum. In some, each partner puts up some percentage of the cost, usually half and half, but sometimes profit is apportioned according the original percent invested. In some cases, it's possible for one partner to invest money, while the other(s) performs services —— such as repairs on a 'fixer-upper'. The deals are as varied as people.

For those with low incomes, or military service, or other special circumstances various government loan programs are available — though they're usually limited to individuals intending to occupy the property.

It's even possible to fund a property purchase with credit cards, but there are several obvious downsides to this method. Apart from the substantially higher interest rates, lenders look at all outstanding debt when judging whether to grant a loan on the remaining balance. Taking out a cash advance to cover a shortfall between the needed 5-20 percent down will usually get you turned down.

Friends, family, and other sources of money are usually viewed the same way, unless you can prove to the bank that the money is a gift and not just a loan.

Mortgage lenders have seen it all! Don't try to fool them

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This information is not a substitute for professional medical, legal, or financial advice from a qualified provider.