Lot loans, also known as land loans, help buyers finance empty land for future construction or development. These specialty mortgage loans differ from traditional construction loans and standard mortgage financing used to purchase existing property.
What are Lot Loans?
A lot loan provides financing to purchase vacant land. The land may already have permits and utility access in place for future building. Or it may be raw land purchased for eventual construction or to hold for investment appreciation.
Used for Personal Use or Development
Borrowers may plan to build their future primary home on the lot within 12 months. Or buyers may intend to build one or more new homes for sale or rent on multiple lots as an investment or development project.
Lot loans offer interim financing to acquire and hold the land before obtaining separate construction financing to build. The lot loan is then paid off when permanent end loan financing is secured.
Lot loans typically have adjustable interest rates and flexible 1- to 5-year terms. This accommodates unknown construction timelines. The goal is to transition to construction loans or end financing quickly.
Lot Loan Uses
Common uses for lot loans include:
Primary Home Construction
Borrowers planning to build their own home within 12 months can qualify for a lot loan. This allows them to secure the ideal lot before arranging construction financing.
Spec Home Building
Investors use lot loans as short-term financing to acquire multiple lots for constructing new spec homes. The homes are then sold for profit to repay the lot loan.
Developers may buy large parcels of raw land zoned for residential building to subdivide into lots. The lots are later sold individually to home builders or end buyers.
Lot loans also finance commercial-zoned empty land for future development. This may include shopping centers, office buildings, apartments, hotels, and industrial properties.
Lot Loan Qualification
Qualifying for a lot loan involves:
Lenders order an appraisal to confirm the lot’s value supports the loan amount. Raw land appraisals establish fair market value based on recent sales of comparable vacant lots.
Typical LTVs on lot loans range from 50% to 75%. Lower ratios are required for raw land versus improved lots ready to build on. Borrowers often must put 10-25% down.
Lenders analyze the borrower’s total monthly debts against gross monthly income, typically limiting ratios to no more than 43%. This evaluates repayment ability.
Lenders review the borrower’s income, assets, reserves, and credit to ensure financial wherewithal to repay the loan as agreed. Good credit and stable income sources are key.
Lot Loan Rates and Terms
Typical lot loan terms include:
Rates on lot loans run slightly higher than rates for home construction loans or standard mortgages on existing homes. Investor loans also cost more than owner-occupant loan rates.
Lot loan terms often range from 1-5 years so borrowers can acquire the lot prior to arranging permanent financing. Shorter terms apply if construction is happening soon.
Interest-only payments are common during the loan term before transitioning to construction or mortgage financing. Some lot loans feature principal plus interest payments.
No prepayment penalties allow paying off the lot loan early. Once buyers can secure construction financing, they can pay off the lot loan in full with no fees.
If needed, borrowers may refinance a lot loan upon maturity to continue holding the land for a longer period prior to development.
Finding the Best Lot Loan Lender
The right lender is key for securing a lot loan. Options include:
Local and Regional Banks
Many community banks and regional lenders actively finance lot loans for builders and developers in their geographic areas. They offer competitive rates and flexible terms.
If the borrower is a member, credit unions can be an excellent choice for lot loan financing. They may provide lower rates than traditional banks.
Some mortgage companies specialize in lot loan products. They may accept a wider range of property types and land development plans compared to local banks.
Online lending marketplaces like LendingTree allow comparing loan offers from multiple lenders. This helps discover the most competitive rates and fees.
Knowledge of Land Values
Regardless of lender type, it’s vital to choose a lender very familiar with local land values and construction costs. Local expertise leads to more accurate appraisals.
Lot loans fill a specialty niche, providing flexible financing to purchase and hold vacant land prior to future development. Understanding ssb loan qualification requirements, favorable terms, and lender options allows buyers to strategically finance land acquisitions for both residential and commercial projects. With an experienced lot loan lender, borrowers can cost-effectively secure ideal properties and sites for construction.