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Traditional lending sources remain difficult to obtain
In the current investment property mortgages landscape, traditional bank loans remain a tough road for financing. And many property investors have had to hold onto their existing, long-held properties while paying off those older mortgages that were set at much higher rates. These investors are finding it nearly impossible to refinance their debt loads, and tap into their equity to help finance new investment property acquisitions. So it’s a double-whammy: not only can they not finance new opportunities, but their cash flows are reduced due to their old, higher-rate mortgages remaining in place.
New Lender Rules = Tighter Credit
The latest news from Washington means traditional bank mortgages will continue to be hard to obtain. This is because the new “qualified mortgage” definition could adversely affect investors who require jumbo mortgages that are too large to qualify for government backing. Most recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a rule that spells out exactly how lenders can avoid legal liability under a new law that holds these lenders accountable for ensuring a borrower’s ability to repay a mortgage. Loans that meet the new qualified mortgage definition will get a clean bill of health – and they will have shown compliance with the new ability-to-repay part of this law.
Fortunately, some jumbo mortgages won’t be considered as qualified mortgages, and would be exempt from the new rules. Any loan that features an interest-only provision for an initial period won’t be considered as part of the new regulations. And any loan where a borrower’s total monthly debt payments exceed 43% of his or her income would also not be considered a qualified mortgage under the new rules.
Interest-only mortgages increased during the housing boom because they were marketed as being more affordable. It allows property investors the ability to carry a mortgage, and gain a tax deduction – all this while making a minimum loan payment. Later down the road, the investor can refinance or pay off the loan before they are required to make principal payments. Or at least, that was the thinking behind this type of mortgage. The debt-to-income rules, meanwhile, could wreak havoc with investors who have lots of cash and other assets, but whose incomes are harder to document. This includes some small business owners or self-employed professionals who have incomes that fluctuate widely from year to year.
The true meaning of these rules for property investors
Since the current real estate market is rebounding, investors are now looking to refinance their existing investment property mortgages and search for new, additional properties for their stable of investments. However, finding traditional bank loans for new investment property purchases, as well as trying to refinance existing loans has become much more difficult with the qualified mortgage rules. Even borrowers with excellent credit and income, who still show a steady rental revenue, are having trouble getting a bank mortgage on an investment.
As such, a great number of property investors have been financing recent acquisitions with their own cash. Of course, this is a horrible way to grow your business, since no leverage is being utilized. More importantly, these investors who bought all-cash thinking they’d be able to refinance afterwards, and pull out some of their equity on their income-producing properties, are being left high and dry when they find that traditional lenders, tied down by the qualified mortgage rules, are simply unable to extend mortgage loans to them.
Hard money lenders
Likewise, it is just as onerous for those investors who acquired investment property in recent years using hard money lenders. Since hard money loans are always short-term, those investors who could not refinance their investment property mortgages at a bank, and who are unable to come up with their own cash resources to pay off those loans, are being forced to sell those properties that they had originally intended to be long-term acquisitions.
To help fill this void, a recent trend has been for hard money lenders to offer additional short-term mortgages to fill the gap. These non-traditional lenders now offer two- to- five year loans on investment properties, all at a much higher interest rate than traditional banks would offer, of course. However, these mortgages have allowed many investors to retain their properties until they can qualify at a traditional bank. And they don’t have to place these properties on the market just yet. These loans, even at their higher rates, allow investors the ability to reduce their monthly costs, increasing their overall cash flow. And they also allow investors the ability to pull some cash out for future purchases.
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