Trust Deed Investors: One Way to Get Investment Income in a Low Return Environment

It is most generally acknowledged that the person’s early years such as the twenties is the best time to start investing. After all, you have all of life ahead to invest money which is why so many books on investment – most actually – are geared towards the twenties. Fewer are towards the thirties, and even fewer towards the forties and retirement. This may be partly why trust deed investing is so appealing. In today’s low-return low-interest-rate environment, trust deed investing is one of the few investment options that can help you substantially increase the amount of your monthly income. And little expense is involved. (Although risk is another matter).What is trust deed investment?Trust deeds are like a private real estate loan. If you’re a real estate entrepreneur (for instance) who wants to snap a fast loan to rehab a piece of property in order to sell at a profit, trust deed investors may be your best choice. They’d give you the loan in a blink’s eye far faster than the bank where it takes drawn out negotiations and filing of hefty tomes until you get that loan. (If at all). The average amount of time is 60 days. Some entrepreneurs cannot wait that long. They need to snap that deal and that’s where the trust deed investor comes in handy. He forks over your required funds within that same week, sometimes that same day at 1/3rd of the paperwork and nil of the stress. The downside is that the borrower pays a much higher rate than he might for a mortgage, typically 8% to 12% (since the investor is taking more of a risk).How does it work?The process is such that the buyer works through a third-party loan originator who underwrites and facilitates the loan for one year. Schedules can be restructured, but generally the borrower makes interest-only payments each month and a balloon payment of the principal once the loan reaches its maturity.So let’s say you’re the investor and you fund 250,000 at 10% APR, you’ll either receive 12 interest payments of $2,083 each, totaling $25,000, and at the end of the year, get back your $250,000. Or, in the worst case scenario, you pocket the defaulting borrower’s land.Other things you’ll want to know…There’s no set minimum for investing in a single trust deed. They can be fractionalized – that is, divided into several portions – but loan originators generally prefer to deal with one investor per loan.Finding trust deeds to invest in can be difficult. Your best bet may be to find an experienced broker or advisor with a history of success. These have likely established relationships with originators and you can work through them. If you don’t want to hunt these deals down, you might invest in a trust deed fund run by a professional manager. These funds currently pay between 8% and 11% per year and have minimum investment amounts that start around $50,000.To acquire credibility, you may want to consider running for SEC licensing.Pluses of investing in trust deedsThe pluses are particularly topical now with the Fed hiking its interest rates and maybe hiking them still higher. Trust deed investments protect you from the shenanigans for rising rates because they’re held to maturity and have short durations. You can also use any sort of cash to invest. You automatically have the right to foreclose on any property when the borrower has defaulted on the loan. Trust deed investing can open the door to other investment opportunities. It also offers a return on investment that comes in at higher than average; expect a typical return of 9 to 14 percent. And, if managed well, this type of investing is secure. This is because it has a guaranteed yield.Minuses of investing in trust deedsThe obvious minus is the very likely possibility of your investment defaulting, namely the borrower not paying you back. This happens to approximately 85 % of private money lenders at some time in their lives, some more than others. Redfin, a residential real estate company that provides web-based real estate database and brokerage services, predicts that it is going to happen to many more this coming year when housing prices are going to lurch beyond restraintManaging risk…How can you prevent losing your money? Experts strongly advise lenders to research client’s credit history and trustworthiness. They also recommend that you research the value of the client’s property and the extraneous market environment to the point that you physically investigate the building yourself. If you’re not up to this, consider hiring an advisor with experience in this market. Before you invest, analyze a fund’s portfolio and the loan loss reserves. As with individual trust deeds, you may want to have a professional do this.In short…NerdWallet, one of the leading advisory websites on investments has this to say: If you exercise due caution, trust deed investments can be a great income generator at a time when investments that produce good returns are few and far between.You may want to consider it.

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Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?