If you are a fix and flip investor, you may be holding a property that just won’t sell. Whether it’s because prices are going down, or whether interest rates are too high. Whatever the reason, you’re stuck holding a flip. So, what do you do?
If you have a hard money loan on the property, you really have a dilemma because it usually means interest is racking up fast on the loan, which is eating into your profit on the deal. And the clock is ticking on the loan due date as well because typically these are short term loans. And once the loan term is up, the lender wants the loaned funds returned.
The good news is that there are solutions at your fingertips that may help you navigate this difficult situation. Here we go:
Communicate With your Hard Money Lender
Never make the fatal mistake of keeping your problem to yourself. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Communicate with your hard money lender at the earliest stage possible when you know you’re in trouble. And don’t be afraid to over communicate, every week at the minimum. Don’t wait, because it may be too late for your lender to help if you wait too long. Many hard money lenders are well versed in real estate, and many are also very well connected, so they may be able to provide advice or resources. And even if your lender can’t help your situation, at least the lender won’t be surprised if you miss a payment, or need an extension.
Doing a pivot means changing your plan or course of action. In this case it means renting the property and holding it, rather than flipping it. If you have a hard money loan on the property, renting it will help you generate immediate income to offset the loan payment. But you have to communicate this pivot with your hard money lender so the lender knows your plan. You can try and negotiate with your lender and suggest a loan modification by either extending the loan for a longer term, and/or negotiating a lower interest rate. This can provide some breathing room, and allow you more time to sell the property. If you can’t negotiate a loan modification with the current lender, you will need to pay the lender back by refinancing the current loan. This point leads us to our next solution, under number 3 below.
Refinance the Property with a Long Term Rental Property Loan
If you’ve made significant improvements to the property and have it rented, you may be able to refinance the property with a long term, rental property loan to pay off the hard money loan. A long term, rental property loan, sometimes called a “DSCR” loan, has a lower interest rate as compared to a hard money loan. These loans also have longer terms such as a 5 year term, 7 year, or a 30 year. Refinancing the hard money loan with a lower rate can help to lower your monthly payments. If you refinance with a lower interest rate, it will take off some of the financial strain that comes with holding the property. But remember, you won’t be able to qualify for a loan like this until you take the property off the market.
Refinance the Property with another Hard Money Loan
If you can’t qualify for a long term rental property loan, you could try to refinance out your hard money loan using another hard money lender. This would give you more time, say another 6 to 12 months, to either sell the property or rent it. This type of hard money loan is often called a bridge loan because it helps to “bridge you” from one phase to the next. And then ask yourself if you know an associate, family member, or friend that would be willing to become your new hard money lender and pay off your current loan? If you can negotiate a lower interest rate with this individual, this arrangement could be a win-win for both you and the new lender.
Find an Equity Partner
You could try to find an equity partner that wants to have co-ownership with you in the property. This person could bring in cash equity to pay off the hard money loan and thus become a partner in the property with you. This means you’ll need to create a joint venture agreement with the equity partner, or form a business entity to hold title to the property whereby you are partners in that business. If you decide to pursue this solution, I recommend finding a real estate attorney and a CPA to help you structure the partnership in the property.
Sell the Property at a Loss
If you’re unable to make any of the other above solutions work for you, then you may need to consider selling the property at a loss. You can use this loss to offset your tax liability. Talk to an accountant or CPA about how this would work for your personal situation. While selling the property at a loss may not be the ideal solution, it can help to minimize the financial impact that holding the property could have on your life over the long term.
Trying to sell a fix and flip property in a declining real estate market, or in a market with rising interest rates, is a tight spot to be in. By taking no action at all, and just waiting for the property to sell, you are just sitting on a ticking time bomb. However, with careful consideration of the solutions that are outlined in this article, it is possible to minimize the financial impact on you.
If you have a hard money loan on the property, communicate with your hard money lender early and often. Always seek advice from professionals when considering these solutions, for example, involve your real estate attorney or your accountant/CPA in your decision making and planning. If you are considering refinancing your hard money loan on a property, we have both bridge loan options, and long term, rental property loan options available, so reach out to us! You may be glad you did.