REHAB AND CONSTRUCTION LOAN FAQ
What is your maximum LTV ratio for rehab and construction loans?
Well, it is important to talk about front-end and back-end LTV. Our maximum back-end LTV is 75% and our maximum front-end LTV is about the same (with a little more flexibility).
What do you mean by "back-end LTV"?
By back-end LTV, I mean the LTV at the completion of the project. For example: let's say a borrower needs $100,000 for the acquisition of a property and $20,000 for construction funds and thus wishes to borrow $120,000. If the completion value of the property is conservatively figured at $170,000 based on comps provided by the borrower, the back-end LTV will be 120/170 or 71%.
Okay, so then what is "front-end" LTV?
Front-end LTV is the LTV immediately upon the closing of escrow but prior to any construction. In the example above, it is a little tricky to talk about the current value of the property since it is a fixer (and fixers are tough to comp directly), but if we determine that the AS IS value of the property is $125,000 then the front-end LTV is 100/125 or 80%. Generally with rehab projects, if the back-end LTV is in-line then the front-end LTV will be in-line also. This is because with rehab projects, the profit is made in the buy, not in the construction.
With construction loans, on the other hand, it is usually the other way around. The profit is made in the construction and generally not in the acquisition of the land. So with construction loans, we need to work a little harder to make sure that the front-end LTV is in order.
Do you require an appraisal?
For rehab projects, rarely ever do we ask for an appraisal. We know that professional investors must move quickly and that they are frequently the best source for data regarding the projected value of their project. If an investor tells me that he expects to sell a property for $200,000 upon completion, I say, "Show me how you have come to this conclusion." A good set of comps is generally all we need.
With construction projects, it is a little tougher sometimes to get a handle on the completed project, so on occasions, we will ask for an appraisal.
Are you able to loan 100% of hard costs?
Yes, and sometimes we are able to finance the soft costs as well. It is not uncommon that we make project loans where the borrower is able to leverage 100% and is not required to bring any money into the project. It really depends on two factors: (1) How strong is the borrower? And (2) How well is he buying?
How does the construction money get disbursed?
From time to time, as a borrower completes the construction of a project, the borrower will submit a draw request to Fairfield Financial. Fairfield will review this request and, upon approval, release funds either directly to the subs/suppliers (if requested to do so) or to the borrower (if the borrower has already paid the subs/suppliers). Fairfield is responsible for ensuring that (a) the work is completed to an appropriate quality standard, (b) the project is on-budget (or if not on-budget, appropriate adjustments are made), and (c) that all subs and suppliers get paid for their work on the project. Borrowers are encouraged to make as many draw requests as they require, and if a request is complete and valid, we can generally disburse funds within 24 hours.
How much experience do you require from the borrower?
Well, it is nice to see a borrower come in with a little experience, but I have learned over the years that success in this business isn't as much about experience as it is about common sense and the willingness and the ability to work tenaciously toward the completion of a project. So if you don't have experience but you can show me that you have the drive and the common sense, I'll give you a chance.
What sort of credit and financial stability do you require from the borrower?
We don't have specific underwriting guidelines. As far as credit, I am not looking for a perfect credit score (though we do have quite a few borrowers with credit scores in the 700s). I am looking at a pattern of payment over time. If a person has had a few bumps in the road or even a BK, for example, along the way, this doesn't bother me. What concerns me is the borrower who has consistently shown a disregard for debt obligations over a period of time. I probably won't want to get into a project relationship with this person.
Regarding financial strength (net worth and income), my primary concern is seeing that the borrower has either enough income (stated) or enough cash or liquid assets (stated) to get through the project. That means showing the capacity to (a) make payments for the duration of the project (if an interest reserve account has not been set up) and (b) weather a few bumps in the road if the project doesn't go exactly as planned. Beyond that, we don't expect our borrowers to have any great wealth. We know that they are in the process of attempting to build something, and sometimes that starts from practically nothing.
What is the term of your loan and how are the payments handled?
The term of the loan is generally one year, though if a project is expected to require longer, we can make a loan for two years or more. Payments are made monthly and are interest-only. If there is enough equity in a project, we can arrange to have some number of payments held in reserve and applied to the loan for the initial period of the project.
What are your rates?
For this sort of thing, rates generally range from 11-14%. The rate is determined by (a) the LTV, (b) the strength of the borrower, (c) the amount of leverage involved, and (d) the merits of the overall project.
Does the borrower pay interest on the full amount of the loan or only on the funds that have been disbursed?
The borrower must pay interest on the full amount of the loan for the duration of the loan. The funds are being held in trust by Fairfield Financial on behalf of the borrower. As such, the funds are not available to the lender throughout the duration of the loan and thus the lender has committed these funds and cannot utilize them in any way or earn interest.
What fees are involved?
We charge a loan fee equal to 5% of the gross amount of the loan. We also charge a doc prep fee (generally $500) and a collection account setup fee which is based on the size of the loan and averages about $120. 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?
We generally have a 3 month minimum interest clause in our loans. This means, that if a borrower repays a loan in 3 months or more, there is no penalty. If the borrower repays the loan, for example in 2 months, then the borrower will have to pay an extra month's interest out of escrow at closing.
What happens if there is money left in the construction account upon completion of the project?
Once the borrower has demonstrated that the project is 100% complete, we will disburse any remaining funds in the construction account to the borrower. Otherwise, these funds will be credited to the borrower at the closing of escrow.
What is the approval process?
There are basically four steps.
- The borrower (or a representative for the borrower) runs the project concept by us. If we like the project concept and feel that the numbers are acceptable, we proceed to the next step.
- We review a complete loan packet. We ask that this be sent via overnight mail or delivered to the office (fax copy is not acceptable). The packet should include the following items:
- 1003 for each borrower/personal guarantor
- Credit (tri-merge) for each borrower/personal guarantor (or permission to pull credit)
- Company financials if the borrower is an entity (2 years)
- A privacy notice signed by the borrower
- A purchase agreement (when property acquisition is involved)
- A preliminary title report (if available)
- A detailed line-item budget for all construction work to be done on the project
- Plans (for all construction loans, and for rehab loans that involve changes in the basic floor plan)
- Borrower's estimate of the completion value of the project, and comps (or other value analysis) to support this estimate
- Photos of the subject property
- Borrower credentials
- A copy of contractor license, bond, and insurance (for all construction loans)
- If all this checks out, we ask the borrower for a deposit (generally $500). This should be in the form of a cashier's check or money order. We provide a conditional loan commitment letter at this time.
- 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.
How long does it take to put the loan together?
We generally ask for a minimum of two weeks from the time we review a project packet until closing, though we can close faster to accommodate special circumstances.