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How to Buy Loans and Sell Loans

In these stressful economic times, many lenders and their investors are looking at acquiring existing loans, or are considering selling loans they currently own.

There are many reasons loans are bought and sold. Often times the reason has more to do with the individual situation of the seller than of the note itself, or the condition of the borrower. The most common reasons loans are sold are for liquidity, dissolution of a partnership, change of financial circumstance, deterioration of the underlying collateral, or the default of a borrower.

There are many opportunities for buyers and brokers to acquire loans at a discount to the principal balance which may result in substantially better yields than originating a new loan. Buyers and their brokers should consider several factors when purchasing a note, including the strength and payment history of the borrower, the quality of the underlying collateral securing the loan, and the strength of the guarantors, if any.

Loans can be purchased individually or in pools. Although the legal agreement differs for each, the basic process flow is the same whether you are buying or selling one or more loans. For simplicity purposes, I’ll refer to the transaction as a loan asset transaction. The term “loan sale” and “note sale” will also be used interchangeably throughout.

The basics of the purchase and sale process are relatively straight forward, but like any transaction, the devil is in the details. Following are eight steps involved in the purchase and sale of loan assets followed by a discussion of the most common pitfalls to avoid throughout the transaction.

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Step 1: Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement

It is customary to execute a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement to protect both parties. Sensitive borrower information is typically exchanged and both parties need to agree to safeguard this information.

Step 2: Make an Offer

Make an offer for the loan asset in writing. Work with an attorney who has handled loan purchase and sale agreements in the past and can walk you through the various nuances to the agreement. An entire article can be written on the ins and outs of this agreement, and is a topic for another time.

Step 3: Good Faith Deposit and Open Title

Typically a seller will provide a good faith deposit to get the process started, but this is a point to be negotiated between the parties. It is a lot of work to gather the loan files together and you want to make sure you have a serious buyer before you go through the effort. You should also prequalify the buyer and verify that the funds are in place and that this buyer isn’t going to try and “raise the funds” once they review your files.

After a deposit is received, the seller should open a title policy. Most of the time the seller can buy an ALTA assignment endorsement (10.6-06) which insures the assignment vesting and lien position to the new party. The endorsement is less expensive than a full title policy and is

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