Articles Posted in Real Estate Financing

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Purchasing real property is a major investment, not only of money but also of risk. Even if a California real estate investor has enough cash on hand to pay the full price without a mortgage loan, they are still bound by property taxes, land use restrictions, and market forces. Most purchasers of real estate already know about these risks, though. A lesser-known risk involves defects, omissions, or fraud in the property’s title. This can lead to problems that are difficult to foresee, such as claims to the property by a former owner’s previously unknown heir, or difficulty in establishing ownership because of a defective deed. Title insurance covers many of these potential issues. Lenders often require borrowers to obtain title insurance policies in order to protect their investments. California’s laws and practices regarding title insurance can be rather difficult to understand at first.

What Is Title Insurance?

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

House flipping,” which is the process of purchasing a residential property, making improvements to it, and selling it, has been particularly popular in recent years among real estate investors in California and around the country. It often involves purchasing distressed properties, such as those that are already in, or at imminent risk of, foreclosure. Investors can therefore purchase a property well below its market value, and with a bit of work—new coats of paint, new appliances, and such—sell it for a considerably greater amount. House flipping can be subject to legal restrictions, however, including local land use ordinances and lending regulations. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), among other functions, insures many home mortgage loans. It also sets restrictions on residential properties when its mortgages are involved. These restrictions can affect house flippers who intend to sell to a buyer who needs an FHA-insured loan.

What Is the FHA?

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Real estate investment in California takes many forms. An investor may, for example, simply purchase shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT), or they may contribute to a real estate syndicate. In those cases, the investor entrusts their money to others and does not get directly involved in the development or operation of the real property. Other investors might like to be more involved in the day-to-day workings of a development project. Either way, California real estate investors should have some familiarity with commercial real estate finance. The following is a very general overview, which assumes that the development project involves building a commercial shopping center on unimproved land.

Short-Term and Long-Term Loans

Real estate development typically begins with the construction of improvements and ends with a completed, fully leased facility. This lengthy process might require multiple stages of financing. Commercial loans can be broadly categorized as short- or long-term.

Short-term loans provide capital needed for the construction of the facility, as well as operating costs during the “lease-up” phase. This type of loan might have a comparatively high interest rate and might include a balloon payment. Short-term loans include construction loans, which finance the actual construction costs, and any bridge loans that might be needed during the construction and lease-up phases.
Continue reading

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Congress enacted the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as “Dodd-Frank,” in 2010 in response to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Among the purposes described in the bill’s full title, Congress intended the law “to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices.” This includes provisions affecting the residential mortgage business. Dodd-Frank has led to numerous changes in how banks handle mortgage loans. It has also affected the hard-money lending market in ways that are likely to affect California real estate investments.

Hard-Money Lending

“Hard-money loans” are a means of financing a real estate purchase or development without many of the procedural hurdles associated with bank loans. Private businesses and investors offer hard-money loans on a shorter time frame, but with higher interest rates and other expenses. Unlike banks, which focus on a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, hard-money lenders usually look at the value of the collateral when deciding to make a loan. Dodd-Frank has created new obligations for hard-money lenders who loan money for residential properties in some circumstances. It has also potentially made this type of loan more appealing for commercial real estate.

Dodd-Frank

Title XIV of Dodd-Frank is entitled the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act (MRAPLA). It amends multiple existing statutes that regulate residential mortgage lenders, including the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA).
Continue reading

moneyAuthor: Staff

Real estate investing can be a lucrative source of income, but as the saying goes, one must spend money to make money. Obtaining a loan through a bank has many advantages, but the process can be slow, and a bank’s conditions for approving a loan can be steep. Investors who need a loan in a shorter time frame, or who are not eligible for a bank loan, might consider hard money lending. Hard money loans come from private companies or investors rather than banks. These loans could be advantageous for some California real estate investors, but they also carry certain disadvantages and risks.

What Is Hard Money Lending?

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

The financial commitments required in real estate investing can vary in size and scope, from purchasing a handful of shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT) or real estate syndicate to purchasing a house or office building. The latter type of real estate investment generally requires a substantial outlay of cash. Very few individual investors have that kind of money on hand, but a prudent investor should always explore ways to avoid putting their own money at risk. Numerous resources exist for financing real estate investment purchases and projects. Real estate investors should carefully review their options. Identifying the best type of financing depends on the property or project, the resources available to the investor, and the investor’s goals.

Types of Real Estate Investments

CrowdfundingAuthor: Staff

The internet and social media have changed the way people communicate in a vast number of ways. They also offer numerous opportunities—and hazards—for investors. Securities laws and regulations have struggled to keep up with new technologies. A process known as “crowdfunding,” by which individuals and businesses solicit small donations from the general public for specific projects or causes, has become increasingly popular in the past few years. A bill enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2012 allows crowdfunding for investment purposes, subject to various rules. Real estate investors may also now invest in ventures, including real estate syndicates, through crowdfunding platforms.

What Is Crowdfunding?

A typical “crowdfunding” campaign seeks to raise money for a specific project through small contributions. Platforms offered by companies like Kickstarter and GoFundMe allow individuals to contribute via a website or a mobile app. Kickstarter is generally known for creative projects like films, while GoFundMe is known for more charitable causes, like raising money to help pay medical bills.

Contributions to crowdfunding campaigns on this type of platform are not “investments,” since the contributor does not receive equity in the project. Contributors to a Kickstarter project may receive a reward defined in the campaign. For example, people who contribute $20 might get a t-shirt, and people who contribute $50 might get a t-shirt and a poster. Investing through a crowdfunding platform requires compliance with securities laws.

One prominent example of a real estate crowdfunding company is RealtyShares.

Continue reading

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

California real estate investors have many options when deciding where to put their money. This includes a real estate syndicate, in which investors contribute money to a real estate project under the management of a syndicator or sponsor. Since a real estate syndicate investment often involves buying ownership equity in a business entity, such as a limited partnership or limited liability company, state and federal securities laws may be a factor. In order to avoid inadvertent securities law violations, syndicators and investors alike should be aware of the general requirements and exemptions in laws like the federal Securities Act of 1933.

Securities Law Enforcement

Both federal and state laws define “securities” very broadly. In addition to stocks and bonds, the term also includes a variety of “investment contracts.” An investor in a real estate syndicate often entrusts their money to a syndicator, who will handle the actual operations of the syndicate. This type of investment is likely, in many cases, to be an “investment contract” within the meaning of state and federal laws.

At the state level, the California Department of Corporations (DOC) is responsible for enforcing securities laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) handles federal securities enforcement. Anyone seeking to sell a security, possibly including an interest in a real estate syndicate, to the public must register with securities regulators. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, as demonstrated by the overall rarity of companies “going public” by making an initial public offering (IPO) of stock to the public. State and federal laws provide exemptions to these rules, however.

Continue reading

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Real estate syndicates in California offer investors a way to invest in real estate projects under the management of a syndicator, also known as a sponsor. The syndicate itself may use one of several different business forms under California law, such as a corporation or a limited partnership.

The individual investors own a portion of the syndicate. This raises an important question about state and federal securities laws:  do investments in a real estate syndicate constitute “securities,” which might place them under the jurisdiction of state and federal securities regulators?

The rather complicated answer is that it depends on various factors, including how the syndicate was formed and the role of the investors in its ongoing operations. Determining the answer requires a careful and thorough review.

What is a “security?”

At the federal level, the Securities Act of 1933 regulates the offer, issuance, and sale of securities to the public. It defines “security” to include not only stocks, bonds, futures, and options, but also a wide range of “investment contracts” and other financial transactions.

California’s Corporate Securities Law of 1968 defines “security” in much the same way. It also adds provisions that exempt certain membership interests in limited liability companies (LLC) when the investors are “are actively engaged in the management of the limited liability company.”
Continue reading

Legal News GavelAuthor: Staff

Real estate syndication involves multiple investors pooling funds and putting them into real estate projects, either to acquire a property completely or as an equity contribution to fund the cost of a project. But there is a great deal of variety in which types of projects are considered real estate syndication, and certain private placements may be heavily regulated.

Sometimes disputes involving real estate syndicate projects are arbitrated before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which regulates all securities firms by regulating brokers and brokerage firms and monitoring stock market trade.

In an unpublished 2015 case in a California state appellate court called Stark v. Beaton, a defendant appealed after the court denied his petition to vacate an arbitration award associated with a real estate syndication project. The case arose when the parties submitted the defendants’ claims to expedited arbitration under the FINRA rules.

Continue reading