Creative financing is any unique and non-traditional way of funding a real estate purchase. Getting a traditional real estate loan may be difficult if you are new to investing and don’t have a proven track record of success. Maybe you have something in your credit history that makes it difficult to get a loan, or you’re simply looking for different options that may be more affordable or better suited for your project. Creative financing involves finding alternative methods of funding the acquisition of land or properties outside of a standard bank loan.
1. Private Lenders
A private lender is anyone with money to invest who is not affiliated with a bank or traditional lending institution. If you have any wealthy friends or relatives, you could see if they would be interested in financing your investment in exchange for a cut of the profits or interest on the loan. Private money lenders aren’t always easy to find but tend to be flexible with requirements because they aren’t held to the same regulatory standards as a bank.
2. Seller Financing
Seller financing is when the seller of the property allows you to pay them back in installments rather than in one lump sum at closing. This can be difficult to negotiate, but is a good way to finance the investment without involving a bank or leveraging your money. Then, you can either rent out the home and pay the seller back over time or flip the property and pay off the outstanding balance when it’s sold.
3. Cash Out Refinance
A cash-out refinance is a solid creative financing method if you own a home with considerable equity. It allows you to refinance your mortgage and borrow a lump sum of cash, which you can use to purchase income-producing real estate. Lenders will usually let you borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. You’ll have to be careful because if the deal does not work out, you will still have to continue making mortgage payments or risk losing your primary residence. But cash-out refinances tend to feature lower rates than other alternative loan types, and the interest is tax-deductible.
4. Home Equity Line of Credit
You may also consider getting a home equity line of credit, which is another way to tap into your home equity to finance a purchase. A HELOC is a second mortgage that allows you to get a line of credit based on the amount of equity you have in the home. HELOCs tend to feature higher interest rates than a cash-out refinance, although it won’t change your existing mortgage. But you can only get up to 80% of the home’s value minus the remaining mortgage amount.
5. Personal Loan
Personal loans are another solid creative financing method, especially if you have good credit. They tend to have short repayment periods compared to a mortgage, which may save you in interest and typically don’t have strict requirements regarding what you can do with the funds. Plus, you won’t have to pledge your home as collateral. However, the interest is not tax-deductible, and you will likely need good credit and income to get a high amount with a decent interest rate.
6. Hard Money Loan
Hard money loans refer to loans that are secured by an underlying asset, in this case, real estate. They typically feature less stringent requirements compared to traditional loans and may not even require credit or income verification as long as the investment is solid. Hard money loans are popular among fix and flippers because they offer a fast approval process and flexible terms. However, they can also be more expensive than other creative financing methods, and if you fail to repay the loan, the lender can seize the property as collateral.
7. FHA Loan
FHA loans can be a good source of financing if you’re looking for a primary residence or you’re willing to occupy the property for a while. FHA loans are backed by the federal government, which means the underwriting requirements are not as strict as a traditional mortgage, and you can be approved with only 3.5% down. However, you will be required to move into the property within 60 days of closing on the sale and must live there for at least one year. But many investors get around this by purchasing a multi-family property with an FHA loan, then occupying one of the units while renting out the others.
8. Lease Option
A lease option is another good creative financing method for those with bad credit. It allows you to rent a home with the option to purchase it at a later date once you’ve saved for a down payment and meet the financing requirements. The owner will likely charge a fee on top of the normal rent to offset some of the risk. But if you’re working on your credit or saving for a down payment, this is a good way to work toward property ownership.
9. Self-Directed IRA
A self-directed IRA is a retirement account that you can use to invest in alternative assets, like real estate. Most retirement accounts are managed by a financial professional and invested in bonds and mutual funds. But a self-directed IRA allows you a bit more freedom to invest in a wider range of assets, including income-bearing real estate. However, it’s important to note that the cash flow must return to the IRA, not the individual investor. So, it’s a great way to boost your retirement savings with real estate, although it may not work if you want to spend the profits in the near future.
Crowdfunding is a financing method that involves collecting smaller payments from a large pool of investors via an online platform. There are many different crowdfunding websites that allow investors to easily collect funds from others who are interested in their real estate venture but don’t want to actively manage an investment. You must be a great storyteller and clearly articulate your vision to get others interested in your project. But crowdfunding is an excellent way to finance a real estate deal without spending your own money.
1. Not as Strict as Traditional Financing
One of the biggest beneifts of creative financing is that the requirements aren't as strict as traditional financing. Most creative financing methods do not feature the same stringent credit and income requirements of traditional bank loans, which makes them more accessible to investors of different backgrounds.
2. Flexible Terms
With creative financing, you often have a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to repayment, what you can do with the funds, and how much funding you can get.
3. Many Options Available
Another benefit of creative financing is the number of options you have. Traditional lenders typically only offer a few financial products that make sense for investors, but there are many different creative financing options you may consider.
1. Riskier Than Traditional Financing
The biggest drawback of creative financing is that it can be risky compared to traditional bank financing. It’s important to note that while creative financing can be flexible, it can also be very risky. While traditional lenders tend to be strict, they also have a stringent underwriting process that helps to minimize risk for all parties involved. Creative financing often features less scrutiny, but the risks can often be high, especially if you’re using your home or other major assets as collateral.
2. May be More Expensive
Another thing to keep in mind about creative financing is that interest rates are usually higher. Depending on which method you choose and your current credit and income status, creative financing methods can be more expensive than more traditional methods.
3. Not all Lenders are Trustworthy
Although banks and traditional lenders may be stricter, they are also highly regulated, and there are laws in place to protect you as a consumer. Private individuals and businesses are not required to provide the same disclosures or uphold certain operating standards, so you should be careful who you trust.
Creative financing is worth it if you are willing to do a bit of due diligence on the lending source and crunch the numbers to ensure your investment is solid. It’s a great way for anyone to purchase real estate, even if you don’t have the credit or income required to obtain traditional financing. However, it’s important to note that the added flexibility may also come with certain downsides and risks. So, you must carefully analyze the potential investment and consider the negatives if you want to use creative financing in real estate.
Every investor should have a solid understanding of creative financing, whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro. It provides unique opportunities to fund a real estate project that may come in handy if you’re denied a loan or you’re simply looking for terms that make more sense for your project. However, it’s also important to understand the risks associated with creative financing and weigh them against the potential benefits.