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Negotiate the Best Deal Print

In order to negotiate the best deal for your private money loan, or hard money loan, investment, it is important to understand how a Private Money Lender earns income and what income sources are available as an investor in a private loan.
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The PML’s income can come in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources:

  • Points - Paid by the borrower as part of their closing costs.
  • Underwriting or Other Fees - Paid by the borrower as part of their closing costs.
  • Referral Fees - Paid by another PML for referred business. 
  • Loan Servicing - Paid by you to the PML, if the PML services the loan.
  • Late Fees - Paid by the borrower for not making a payment on time.
  • Foreclosure Fees -  Added to the borrower’s loan balance.
  • Renewal Fees - Paid by the borrower to renew the loan for an additional term.

Let’s look at each type of income.

Points - Calculated as a percentage of the loan amount.  1 point = 1% of the loan amount.  A PML may simplify the closing costs by charging private money lending points without detailing separate underwriting or other  fees, or may charge points in addition to other fees.  The amount charged depends on the transaction, agreements between the  parties, loan-to-value (LTV), risk and complexity.  Here’s an example:

The borrower is charged 3 points (3%) up front on a $500,000 loan, or $15,000. The PML generally receives a majority of the points.  In some instances, a PML may agree to pay a referral fee to another PML for bringing either the borrower or investor to the transaction.   The PML may also agree to share a portion of the points with the investor. 

The distribution of the points paid up front, might look like this:

                -$8,000 to the PML

                -$3,000 to the referring PML

                -$4,000 to the investor

It is common for an investor to request ½ to 1% up front for funding the loan to increase their yield, but this fee is negotiable between the investor and the PML. 

Underwriting or Other Fees - These are fees charged to the borrower in addition to up front points.  Some PMLs will charge them, and some won’t.   While some fees will simply “pass through” the PML, such as appraisal and credit report fees, others are their source of additional compensation.  Examples are:

  • Underwriting  Fee - A flat dollar fee, typically between $750 and $2,500, depending on the complexity of the loan.  Sometimes this is incorporated into the points, but may be a separate  additional charge.   
  • Processing Fee - A flat dollar fee charged for the processing of the loan.
  • Doc Prep Fee - A flat dollar fee charged for the preparation of the loan documents.  Sometimes these fees will be pass through because the PML is using a private company to generate the documents and sometimes this fee will just be additional income to the PML.

Referral Fees - A predetermined dollar amount or loan percentage negotiated between PML’s for referred business.  If a borrower is referred to a PML, chances are part of the fees the borrower is paying will cover a referral fee to the other PML.  Due to the specialized nature of private money lending, each PML cannot be “all things to all clients.”  The loans they can fund are dictated by the investors they represent, therefore making referrals common.   

Loan Servicing - This fee is paid by the investor to the PML if the PML services the loan.  The PML collects the loan payments, keeps all necessary records, provides applicable reports and interacts with the borrower.  Servicing fees vary and can be a flat fee per month, or a percentage of the loan balance (e.g. 1/4 to 1% of the original loan amount, calculated annually and paid monthly.)  The PML may also collect additional late fees, etc that are paid by the borrower during the loan servicing period.  Traditionally, the late fee income is split 50/50 between investor and loan servicer. Here’s an example: 

Assume you originated a $500,000 loan at 10% interest and agreed to pay the PML a 1% servicing fee.   The servicing fee will be 1% x $500,000, or $5,000.  The $5,000 servicing fee will be charged on a monthly basis at the rate of $416.67 per month ($5,000 ÷ 12).

If the borrower’s monthly payment is $4,383.34, the PML would first deduct their $416.67 servicing fee and disburse the net amount of $3,966.67 to the investor.

Late Fee Income - If the borrower pays after a date specified in the promissory note, a late fee is charged.   Traditionally, a loan servicer splits late fee income with the investor 50/50, but is paid to the investor when the borrower pays the late fee.

Foreclosure Fees  - The fees generated during a foreclosure may or may not be paid to the PML.   Many PMLs provide foreclosure services and therefore are a profit center for the PML.  In other cases, the PML may outsource all foreclosure services and share in none of the foreclosure fee revenue.    Traditionally this income is not shared with investors.  

Renewal Fees  - The fees are paid by the borrower for renewing an existing loan with the mutual consent of the investor.    If you have a good quality, on-time paying borrower, you will likely want to renew the loan and keep your funds earning a return.   It is common for a borrower to pay, either up front, or added to the principal of the loan balance, a renewal fee.

Every PML has a slightly different business structure so their income may be derived from one or any combination of the sources discussed.  As mentioned previously, some private money lending fees may be shared with the investor.  When you are selecting a PML, ask about how they manage their business, and what fees they are willing to share with investors.  For more information on shared fees see “Investor Income  -  Earnings Beyond Interest.”

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