8 Loan Options for Financing Investment Real Estate

Investing in real estate can be a lucrative venture, but it often requires substantial capital upfront. Unless you have enough cash to cover an entire property purchase, you’ll need to find a lending source or sources to help finance your investments. In fact, very few real estate investors pay all cash for investment real estate. Borrowing money for real estate is the norm, and it gives you leverage to buy and control property while only using some of your own money.

For many investors, securing the right loan is essential to fund their property purchases. In this article, we will explore the eight best loan options available for financing real estate investment purchases, each catering to different financial situations and objectives.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are a popular choice for real estate investors with a strong credit history and a substantial down payment. These loans are not insured or guaranteed by the government, making them more flexible in terms of property types and investment strategies. Conventional loans typically offer competitive interest rates and favorable terms, making them an attractive option for seasoned investors.

Conventional financing, offered by banks and other traditional lending institutions, is a common choice for real estate investors seeking long-term financing for their investment properties. Let’s explore the pros and cons of conventional financing:

Pros of Conventional Financing for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Lower Interest Rates: One of the main advantages of conventional financing is the relatively lower interest rates compared to other types of investor loans, such as hard money or private money loans (both discussed below). This can significantly reduce the overall cost of borrowing and improve the investor’s potential return on investment.
  2. Longer Repayment Terms: Conventional loans typically come with longer repayment terms, often ranging from 15 to 30 years and without a balloon payment looming in a few months or years. This extended period allows real estate investors to spread their repayments over time, reducing the monthly financial burden and providing more flexibility in managing cash flow.
  3. Availability and Accessibility: Conventional financing is widely available and accessible from various financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and mortgage lenders. Investors have multiple options to choose from, allowing them to shop around for the best terms and rates that suit their needs.
  4. Stability and Predictability: Conventional loans are highly regulated and standardized, providing stability and predictability for borrowers. The terms and conditions of the loan are clear and well-defined, reducing the risk of unexpected changes or surprises during the loan term.
  5. Flexible Property Options: Conventional loans are not restricted to specific property types or investment strategies. Real estate investors have the freedom to use conventional financing for a wide range of properties, including single-family homes, multi-unit properties, condominiums, and more.

Cons of Conventional Financing for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Stricter Qualification Criteria: Conventional financing typically requires higher credit scores and a more thorough evaluation of the borrower’s financial history and income stability. Investors with less-than-perfect credit or irregular income streams may find it challenging to qualify for a conventional investor loan.
  2. Lengthy Approval Process: Compared to alternative financing options, the approval process for conventional loans can be more time-consuming and involve substantial documentation. This extended timeline may not be suitable for investors in time-sensitive or competitive real estate markets.
  3. Down Payment Requirements: Conventional loans often come with significant down payment requirements, usually ranging from 15% to 25% of the property’s purchase price depending on factors such as property type, loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, credit score, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, etc. For investors with limited capital, saving for a substantial down payment may be a significant obstacle.
  4. Strict Property Appraisal Process: Conventional lenders require detailed property appraisals to assess the property’s value and condition. If the property appraisal comes in lower than expected, it may lead to loan rejections or require the borrower to cover the shortfall.
  5. Limited Flexibility in Underwriting: Conventional lenders follow strict underwriting guidelines, leaving less room for flexibility in certain cases. This can be a drawback for real estate investors with unique circumstances or unconventional income sources.

Want to invest in real estate in Metro Atlanta? Kurzner Group helps investors of all experience levels. Visit our Real Estate Investing page to request more information and get started now.

FHA Loans

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) financing can be an appealing option for real estate investors, particularly those with limited funds or credit challenges. However, like any financing option, it comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of FHA financing for real estate investors:

Pros of FHA Financing for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Low Down Payment: One of the most significant advantages of FHA financing is the low down payment requirement. Investors may be able to purchase an investment property with as little as 3.5% down, making it more accessible for those with limited upfront capital.
  2. Lenient Credit Requirements: FHA loans are more forgiving when it comes to credit scores compared to conventional loans. Borrowers with lower credit scores may still qualify for FHA financing, making it an attractive option for investors with less-than-perfect credit.
  3. Fixed Interest Rates: FHA loans typically come with fixed interest rates, providing borrowers with stable and predictable monthly mortgage payments over the life of the loan.
  4. Assumable Loans: FHA loans are assumable, which means that when the property is sold, the buyer can take over the existing FHA loan with its original terms and interest rate. This feature can make the property more attractive to potential buyers when the investor decides to sell.
  5. Streamlined Refinancing: FHA offers streamlined refinancing options, allowing investors to refinance their existing FHA loan with less paperwork and lower costs, under certain circumstances.

Cons of FHA Financing for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Owner-Occupancy Requirements: FHA financing typically requires the borrower to occupy the property as their primary residence for at least one year. This can be a drawback for investors planning to buy properties solely for rental purposes.
  2. Property Eligibility Requirements: FHA financing is only available for certain property types, and the property must meet specific safety and habitability standards. This can limit the options for investors looking to purchase certain types of properties or those planning extensive renovations.
  3. Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP): FHA loans require both an upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) and ongoing monthly MIP payments. This can increase the overall cost of the loan and impact the investor’s cash flow.
  4. Loan Limits: FHA sets maximum loan limits based on the area’s median home prices. In high-cost areas, these limits may not be sufficient to finance larger investment properties.
  5. Limited Flexibility for Renovations: While FHA loans do allow for some minor repairs and renovations, they may not be suitable for extensive renovation projects or properties in need of significant repairs.

VA Loans

VA (Veterans Affairs) loans are specifically designed to help active-duty service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses finance their primary residences. While VA loans offer several benefits for homebuyers, they have some limitations and considerations when used by real estate investors. Let’s explore the pros and cons of a VA loan for real estate investors:

Pros of a VA Loan for Real Estate Investors:

  1. May Be Used for Investment Property: VA loans are intended to be used for a primary residence of the borrower. However, this does not prohibit a portion of the property from being rented out. You can also use a VA loan to purchase a duplex, triplex or quadraplex, but you must reside in one of the units. The other units may be rented out. After living in the property for 12 months, you may rent the entire property to tenants.
  2. No Down Payment: One of the most significant advantages of VA loans is that they typically require no down payment. This can be highly beneficial for real estate investors who may prefer to conserve their cash for other investment opportunities.
  3. Competitive Interest Rates: VA loans often come with competitive interest rates, which can help investors save money over the life of the loan compared to some other loan types.
  4. No Mortgage Insurance: Unlike conventional loans with less than 20% down payment, VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI). This can further reduce the monthly costs for real estate investors.
  5. Easier Qualification: VA loans have more lenient qualification requirements compared to conventional loans. They consider factors beyond credit scores, making it easier for some investors with lower credit scores to qualify.
  6. Assumable Loans: VA loans are assumable, which means that when the property is sold, a qualified buyer can assume the VA loan, potentially making the property more attractive to potential buyers.

Cons of a VA Loan for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Owner-Occupancy Requirement: VA loans are intended for primary residences, and borrowers must certify that they intend to occupy the property as their primary residence. Real estate investors seeking to purchase a property solely for investment purposes may not be eligible for a VA loan.
  2. Limited Use for Investment Properties: VA loans are generally not available for purchasing investment properties (without being owner occupied), vacation homes, or rental properties. Investors may need to explore other loan options for their investment ventures.
  3. Funding Fee: While VA loans do not require a down payment, they may have a funding fee, which is a one-time upfront cost based on the loan amount and military service category. The funding fee can be added to the loan balance, but it increases the overall cost of the loan.
  4. Appraisal and Inspection Requirements: VA loans require certain property appraisal and inspection standards to ensure the property meets VA’s Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). These requirements could limit the types of properties that investors can consider for financing.

Hard Money Lenders

When traditional lenders are unable to provide the necessary funds for real estate investment projects, hard money lenders step in as a reliable alternative. Hard money lenders are individuals or companies that offer short-term loans secured by real estate. These loans are asset-based, meaning they primarily focus on the value of the property rather than the borrower’s credit history.

Pros of a Hard Money Loan for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Speed and Convenience: Hard money lenders are renowned for their quick loan approval process, making them an excellent choice for investors seeking fast financing. Unlike conventional lenders with extensive paperwork and strict qualification criteria, hard money lenders can provide funding within a matter of days, making it ideal for time-sensitive investment opportunities or competitive markets.
  2. Flexible Qualification Requirements: While traditional lenders heavily emphasize creditworthiness and financial history, hard money lenders prioritize the property’s value and the investor’s exit strategy. This makes hard money loans accessible to investors with less-than-perfect credit scores or those who have experienced financial challenges in the past.
  3. Asset-Centric Approach: Since hard money lenders primarily rely on the property’s value as collateral, they often overlook other factors that traditional lenders might consider. This allows real estate investors to secure financing even on properties that require significant renovations or lack sufficient documentation.
  4. Ideal for Fix-and-Flip Projects: Hard money lenders are especially popular among real estate investors involved in fix-and-flip projects. The quick funding allows investors to purchase distressed properties, renovate them, and then sell at a profit, all within a short period. The high-interest rates are usually offset by the quick turnaround of the investment.
  5. Building Relationships: Developing strong relationships with hard money lenders can prove beneficial for real estate investors in the long run. As investors successfully complete projects and repay loans on time, they may establish a reputation and gain access to better terms and rates from the same lender in the future.

Cons of a Hard Money Loan for Real Estate Investors:

  1. High Interest Rates: Hard money loans come with significantly higher interest rates compared to traditional bank loans. Since hard money lenders take on higher risk by offering loans based on the property’s value rather than the borrower’s creditworthiness, they compensate for this risk by charging higher interest rates. The higher interest costs can eat into the investor’s potential profits and may make the investment less financially viable.
  2. Short Repayment Terms: Hard money loans are typically short-term, ranging from six months to two years. This short repayment period can put significant pressure on real estate investors to complete their projects quickly and sell or refinance the property within the loan term. If investors encounter unexpected delays or complications, they might struggle to meet the tight repayment deadlines.
  3. Additional Fees: In addition to high-interest rates, hard money lenders may charge additional fees, such as origination fees, processing fees, and prepayment penalties. These fees can further increase the overall cost of borrowing and reduce the investor’s potential returns.
  4. Risk of Property Seizure: Hard money lenders secure their loans with a lien on the property, making the property itself the collateral. If the borrower fails to repay the loan as agreed, the lender can seize the property through foreclosure. This risk can be especially concerning if the real estate investment does not go as planned, and the investor is unable to generate the expected returns within the short loan term.
  5. Limited Regulation and Consumer Protections: Hard money lending is generally less regulated than traditional banking, which means there may be fewer consumer protections in place. Investors must exercise caution and thoroughly research potential lenders to avoid falling victim to predatory practices or unscrupulous lenders.
  6. Risky for Inexperienced Investors: Hard money loans can be a risky choice for inexperienced real estate investors. Since these loans are short-term and high-cost, they require a solid understanding of the real estate market, project management skills, and a well-defined exit strategy. Novice investors may find it challenging to navigate the complexities of hard money loans successfully.
  7. Availability and Accessibility: While hard money lenders offer more flexibility than traditional lenders, they may not be readily available in all areas. Moreover, some hard money lenders may have strict requirements for the types of properties they finance or the borrowers they work with, limiting the accessibility of these loans for certain investors.

Private Money Lenders

Similar to hard money lenders, private money lenders provide short-term loans based on the property’s value. But private money lenders will also look at the borrower’s credit worthiness. Both hard and private money lenders are “private,” meaning they are not banks or traditional lending institution. It could be a friend or family member or an individual with a large amount of cash. Private money loans, in contrast to hard money loans discussed above will likely be for a shorter term, at a higher interest rate.

Pros of Private Money Lenders for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Quick Approval and Funding: Private money lenders are known for their speed and efficiency in approving loans and disbursing funds. This rapid turnaround can be highly advantageous for investors who need to act quickly to secure a property or take advantage of time-sensitive investment opportunities.
  2. Flexible Qualification Criteria: Unlike traditional lenders, private money lenders are more concerned with the value of the property being used as collateral as well as the familiarity with the buyer and their trustworthiness. This makes private money loans accessible to investors with less-than-perfect credit or unconventional income sources.
  3. Customizable Loan Terms: Private money lenders have the flexibility to tailor loan terms to fit the specific needs of the borrower and the investment project. This can include negotiating repayment schedules, interest rates, and other terms to suit the investor’s financial situation and investment strategy.
  4. No Prepayment Penalties: Many private money lenders do not impose prepayment penalties, allowing investors to repay the loan early without incurring additional fees. This can be advantageous for investors who plan to sell or refinance the property quickly.

Cons of Private Money Lenders for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Higher Interest Rates and Fees: Private money loans often come with higher interest rates and fees compared to traditional loans. The increased cost of borrowing can impact the investor’s overall return on investment and cash flow.
  2. Short-Term Loans: Private money lenders typically offer short-term loans, usually with terms ranging from six months to two years. Investors must have a clear exit strategy in place to repay the loan promptly or refinance it before the term ends.
  3. Risk of Property Seizure: Private money lenders typically secure their loans with a lien on the property. If the borrower fails to repay the loan as agreed, the lender can seize the property through foreclosure, leading to a potential loss for the investor.
  4. Limited Consumer Protections: Private money lending is less regulated than traditional banking, which means there may be fewer consumer protections in place. Borrowers must exercise caution and thoroughly research potential lenders to avoid falling victim to predatory practices.
  5. Higher Down Payment Requirements: Private money lenders may require a more substantial down payment compared to traditional lenders. This can put a strain on the investor’s available capital and limit their ability to leverage the investment.

Portfolio Loans

Portfolio loans, also known as portfolio mortgage loans, are offered by smaller banks and credit unions that retain the loans in their own investment portfolios instead of selling them to larger financial institutions. These loans provide more flexibility in underwriting criteria because they do not have to meet stringent requirements of program like the FHA and VA loans. Portfolio loans can be a useful option for real estate investors. Let’s explore the pros and cons:

Pros of Portfolio Loans for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Flexible Underwriting: Portfolio lenders have the discretion to set their own underwriting guidelines, allowing them to consider unconventional income sources, unique property types, and other non-traditional factors. This flexibility can be beneficial for investors with complex financial situations.
  2. Expanded Loan Eligibility: Portfolio lenders are not bound by the same strict guidelines as conventional lenders, which can make it easier for investors to qualify for a loan. This is especially helpful for self-employed individuals or those with fluctuating income.
  3. Customized Loan Terms: Portfolio lenders can offer more personalized loan terms, including adjustable interest rates, interest-only periods, and longer repayment terms. This flexibility enables investors to tailor the loan to their specific investment strategies and financial goals.
  4. Ability to Finance Multiple Properties: Portfolio loans are often used by real estate investors with a substantial portfolio of investment properties. These loans allow investors to finance multiple properties under a single loan, simplifying their financial management.
  5. Faster Approval Process: Since portfolio lenders make their own decisions and do not need to comply with strict regulatory requirements, the approval process for portfolio loans is typically faster compared to larger institutions.

Cons of Portfolio Loans for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Potentially Higher Interest Rates: Portfolio lenders may charge slightly higher interest rates than conventional lenders due to the increased risk they assume by keeping the loans in their portfolio.
  2. Limited Availability: Portfolio loans are typically offered by smaller banks and credit unions, which means they may not be as widely available as loans from larger financial institutions.
  3. Higher Down Payment Requirements: Portfolio lenders may require a larger down payment compared to conventional loans. This can pose a challenge for investors with limited available capital.
  4. Variable Loan Terms: Since portfolio loans are customized, they may come with variable terms that can differ from one lender to another. Investors should carefully review the terms and conditions of each portfolio loan offer to ensure they align with their investment objectives.
  5. Potential for Less Favorable Terms: While portfolio loans offer flexibility, they may also carry less favorable terms, such as higher fees or shorter loan terms, depending on the lender’s specific requirements.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) can be an attractive financing option for real estate investors looking to access the equity in their primary residence or investment properties. However, it also comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of a HELOC for real estate investors:

Pros of a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Access to Capital: A HELOC allows real estate investors to tap into the equity they have built up in their properties, providing a source of capital for various investment opportunities, such as purchasing additional properties, financing renovations, or covering other real estate-related expenses.
  2. Lower Interest Rates: HELOCs often come with lower interest rates compared to other types of loans, such as personal loans or credit cards. This can make them a cost-effective option for real estate investors to borrow funds.
  3. Flexibility in Borrowing: With a HELOC, investors have the flexibility to borrow only the amount they need when they need it, up to the credit limit. This gives them greater control over their borrowing and interest costs.
  4. Revolving Credit: Similar to a credit card, a HELOC is a revolving line of credit, meaning as the borrower repays the borrowed amount, the credit becomes available again, allowing for multiple uses over the draw period.
  5. Potential Tax Deductibility: In some cases and under certain conditions, the interest paid on a HELOC may be tax-deductible, providing potential tax benefits for real estate investors.

Cons of a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for Real Estate Investors:

  1. Risk of Overleveraging: Tapping into home equity through a HELOC increases the investor’s overall leverage, which can be risky, especially during market downturns or when the property values decrease.
  2. Variable Interest Rates: HELOCs often come with variable interest rates, which means that the rate and monthly payments can fluctuate with changes in the market interest rates. This can lead to uncertainty in budgeting for future payments.
  3. Property as Collateral: A HELOC is secured by the property used as collateral. If the investor defaults on the loan, they risk losing their property through foreclosure.
  4. Draw and Repayment Period: HELOCs have a draw period during which the borrower can access the credit line, followed by a repayment period during which the principal and interest must be paid back. The transition from the draw to repayment period can lead to higher monthly payments.
  5. Potential Market Risks: Real estate markets can be unpredictable, and using a HELOC to invest in real estate introduces additional risks. If property values decline, the investor may end up owing more on the HELOC than the property’s worth.

Cash Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is a financing strategy that allows real estate investors to access the equity they have built up in their primary residence or an existing investment property and convert it into cash. The process involves refinancing the existing mortgage for an amount higher than the outstanding loan balance, and the difference is received as cash at closing. This cash can then be used to purchase a new real estate investment property.

Here’s how a cash-out refinance can be used to buy a real estate investment property:

  1. Assess Equity: The first step is to determine the amount of equity available in the current property. Equity is calculated by subtracting the outstanding mortgage balance from the property’s current market value.
  2. Apply for a Cash-Out Refinance: The investor applies for a cash-out refinance with their mortgage lender, providing all necessary documentation and meeting the lender’s qualification requirements.
  3. Appraisal and Underwriting: The property undergoes an appraisal to determine its current market value. The lender reviews the investor’s financials and creditworthiness to approve the cash-out refinance.
  4. Closing: Once approved, the cash-out refinance is closed, and the investor receives the difference between the new loan amount and the previous mortgage balance in cash.
  5. Purchase Investment Property: With the cash from the refinance, the investor can use it as a down payment or to buy an investment property outright.

Pros of Using a Cash-Out Refinance for Real Estate Investment:

  1. Access to Capital: A cash-out refinance provides investors with access to a significant amount of capital without requiring them to sell their existing property or seek additional financing options.
  2. Lower Interest Rates: Mortgage rates are often lower than rates for other types of loans like personal or business loans. By using a cash-out refinance, investors can benefit from lower interest rates compared to some alternative financing methods.
  3. Tax Benefits: The interest on the cash-out refinance loan may be tax-deductible, potentially providing tax benefits for the investor.
  4. Simplified Financing: Using a cash-out refinance streamlines the financing process by consolidating the new investment property’s purchase and refinancing the current property into a single transaction.

Cons of Using a Cash-Out Refinance for Real Estate Investment:

  1. Risk of Overleveraging: Converting home equity into cash and using it to invest in another property can increase the investor’s overall leverage, potentially leading to higher financial risk.
  2. Closing Costs: Cash-out refinances come with closing costs and fees, which can add to the overall cost of the loan.
  3. Property Valuation Risks: The market value of the primary residence or existing investment property may change, affecting the amount of cash available through the cash-out refinance.
  4. Long-Term Commitment: A cash-out refinance extends the loan term on the existing property. Investors need to consider the long-term financial implications of this decision.


When venturing into real estate investing, securing the right loan is crucial to finance your property purchases successfully. Each of the eight loan options discussed in this article caters to different financial situations and investment goals. As an investor, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, consider your financial position, and carefully compare your loan options. Remember, successful real estate investment is not only about the property but also about finding the right financing to support your goals.

Kurzner Group specializes in helping real estate investors in Metro Atlanta and surrounding counties. We help first-time investors all the way up to large corporations. If you want to invest in real estate, you are in the right place! Complete the form below to request more info, and we’ll get in touch ASAP. Then visit our real estate investing page to learn more.

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