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A construction loan is a short-term loan used to finance the building of a home or other real estate project. The builder or home buyer takes out a construction loan to cover the costs of the project before obtaining long-term funding. Because they are considered relatively risky, construction loans usually have higher interest rates than traditional mortgage loans.
After construction of the project is complete, the borrower can either refinance the construction loan into a permanent mortgage or obtain a new loan to pay off the construction loan (sometimes called the “take-out loan” or “end loan”)
These loans are unique because they provide funding in stages as construction progresses. Here are the key features and aspects of construction loans:
Short-Term Loan: Construction loans are typically short-term loans, often with terms ranging from six months to two years. They are intended to cover the period of construction and are not long-term financing solutions.
Two-Phase Structure: Construction loans typically have two phases:
- Construction Phase: During this phase, the borrower draws funds from the loan to pay for construction-related expenses. These expenses can include contractor payments, building materials, permits, and other construction-related costs.
- Conversion to Permanent Mortgage: Once the construction is complete, the construction loan is usually converted into a permanent mortgage or paid off with a new mortgage. This permanent mortgage is used to pay off the construction loan and becomes the long-term financing for the property.
Interest Payments: Borrowers typically make interest-only payments during the construction phase. These payments are based on the outstanding balance of the loan as it is drawn for construction expenses. After the conversion to a permanent mortgage, regular principal and interest payments are made.
Draw Process: During the construction phase, the borrower requests “draws” from the loan to cover construction costs. The lender may send inspectors to verify that the work has been completed before releasing funds for each draw.
Interest Rates: Interest rates on construction loans can be fixed or variable. Variable rates are more common and are usually tied to an index, such as the prime rate.
Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: Lenders typically use the future appraised value of the completed property to determine the LTV ratio. This means that the borrower may need to make a down payment or have equity in the project upfront.
Credit and Financial Requirements: Borrowers are generally required to meet credit and financial criteria to qualify for a construction loan. Lenders want assurance that the borrower can repay the loan once construction is complete.
Builder and Contractor Approval: Lenders often require that the borrower’s builder or contractor be approved by the lender to ensure they are qualified and experienced in construction projects.
Construction Timeline: Lenders may set a specific timeline for completing construction. Delays can result in additional costs or complications.
Interest Reserves: Some construction loans include interest reserves, where a portion of the loan amount is set aside to cover interest payments during the construction phase. This can be helpful for borrowers who may not want to make monthly interest payments.
Loan Fees: Borrowers should be aware of any fees associated with construction loans, including origination fees, inspection fees, and closing costs.
Construction loans can be a valuable tool for individuals or developers looking to build a new home or undertake significant renovations. However, they are more complex than traditional mortgages and require careful planning and management of the construction process. It’s essential to work with experienced lenders and builders who understand the intricacies of construction loans to ensure a successful and smooth project.
Vashon Mortgage – NMLS #2431410 & Collen & Associates CA DRE #01452367
WA DFI Consumer Loan License #2431410 & California DRE Broker License #01452367
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Randal Collen, dually licensed RE professional – MLO #2386273 & DRE #01452367
PO Box 452, Vashon WA 98070.