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The Bridge Loan Market is Changing Tides

This past March, Covid-19 disrupted everyone’s day to day life. From curfews and lockdowns to wearing a mask when going out in public places, to schools and workplaces shutting their doors and moving to virtual formats, the real estate industry as we knew it also did not walk away unscathed.

Not surprisingly, the private lending industry was affected in an unprecedented way. The economy was shaken, and it was uncertain as to just how much damage was done. During this time, private lenders approached these new market challenges with different strategies as this was uncharted territory. Two main strategies were prevalent: one was to press the pause button on lending on anything new during this time to focus on managing existing loans, and two was to maintain lending with very strict and specific guidelines.

Now that the private lending world has begun to readjust to the current market fluctuations and uncertainties, new lending trends have emerged in the bridge loan market and are switching up customer demand and investment strategies.

Bridge Loans Are the New Comeback Kid

Bridge financing has always been and will continue to be, a great resource for real estate investors due to its ability to provide quick turnaround times and competitive pricing. Bridge loans provide short-term financing options, typically until another financing source, usually conventional financing, is acquired.

Bridge loans also give investors time. Time to get a property ready and cash-flowing, whether that be as a rental property or a flip to be re-listed in this fast-paced market. And with the current pace of the market real estate investors need every possible tool to keep up. The mix of having very low inventory, quick turnaround times, and properties selling at a higher cost is a great cocktail for bridge financing to literally close the gap needed for investors looking to acquire additional investment properties.

According to Realtor.com®’s October Housing Data Release, it revealed that nationally, a typical home for sale spent only 53 days on the market, which is 13 days less than this same time in 2019. This is the first time in Realtor.com’s records that homes sold faster in October than September, like occurred in 2020, and indicates a continuance of an unusually active and aggressive fall/winter seller’s market. This data sets up the market well for investors continuing to acquire investment properties in the upcoming winter months, as the real estate market shows no sign of slowing down.

Though something to keep in mind when determining an investment strategy and when to utilize bridge financing, inventory of newly listed properties has declined by over 7 percent nationally throughout this year, increasing the competition on properties listed and driving up prices. Realtor.com®’s October Housing Data Release revealed the median national home listing price increased by 12 percent over 2020, to $350,000 in October. This is up from the 11 percent growth seen in September. This is also why the speed bridge financers can provide when closing a loan to acquire a property is a must-have in this competitive market.

Bridge Loans Lucrative Option for Investors

The increased demand for bridge financing can also be attributed to the historically low-interest rates and the fast pace with which bridge lenders can provide funding. Although bridge loan rates are dependent on experience, credit score, term, and the size of the loan, the rates generally range from 4 to 13 percent which is extremely lucrative when considering the swiftness at which bridge loans can be acquired.

Speed is another major factor as to why bridge loans are thriving in this market. As stated previously, properties are only spending, on average, 53 days on the market creating a fast-paced, and competitive space for investors. By choosing to work with bridge financers to purchase properties investors can close on these properties much faster than conventional funding, typically in 7-15 business days.

Combine the experienced investors with the folks who left the unstable stock market to invest in real estate, like was seen in 2008, and the number of loan requests to bridge financers has significantly increased this year.

For example, between July and October of 2019 Bridge Loan Network received over 797 loan requests through the software. Now with this same timeframe of July through October in 2020 Bridge Loan Network has received over 1,988 loan requests in the software.

Market Trends Move Towards Longer-Term Options

Although short-term bridge financing hasn’t slowed down, seasoned real estate investors have switched up their investment strategies this year. The days of buying distressed properties to renovate and quickly sell are no longer feasible due to new safety restrictions and protocols in this “new normal”. Getting one appraisal done on a property could be challenging enough, and then adding multiple inspection reports for rehab draws and a project’s timeline increases substantially. With this, short-term bridge loans for fix and flip projects are not as lucrative now, as they were back in January/February.

This does not mean that investors are walking away from bridge financing altogether though, in-fact, it is the exact opposite. Real estate investors are just adjusting their investment strategies and therefore require different types of bridge loans from private lenders. Since investors are pausing on the flip projects and moving towards acquiring and holding long-term rental properties and building their portfolios private lenders have adjusted how they market their short and longer-term bridge options to attract more clients.

Article originally published in the American Association of Private Lender’s PL Magazine 2021 Winter (Q1).

Meet the Team “Virtually”: Matt Volz

Let’s meet our Senior Operations Specialist, Matt Volz who joined our Bridge Loan Network team in 2017.  Matt’s mission is to create a dynamic user experience that both simplifies and expedites the client’s workflow. His experience in both business and customer relations is a great asset to our team.

Q:  How do you prefer to start your day?

A:  I start my day by taking my dog for a walk around the block. When I get back, I have a nice hearty breakfast. Finally, I take a shower and dress to impress!

Q:  What’s your go-to productivity trick?

A:  Each morning, I set a list of 5 goals I would like to complete by the end of the day. Whenever I have spare time during the workday, these are the projects that I fall back on.

Q:  How did you start working for Bridge Loan Network?

A:  A few years ago, the owner of the company reached out to me directly to start doing some side projects. Once they were complete, he wanted to bring me on in a Business Development role. I have been a Bridge Loan Network man every since.

Q:  What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

A:  When I started with Bridge Loan Network, there were only three members of our team and we were in the startup phase. This year (2020) alone, we have added four new employees and over 100 clients. Being apart of this growth has been my greatest accomplishment of my career so far.

Q:  What was your first job?

A:  I graduated with an Accounting Degree from UConn and started at a Big 4 firm soon after college. I quickly realized that the accounting industry was not for me and that is when I made the switch to Bridge Loan Network.

Q:  Are you an early bird, or night owl?

A:  I am definitely a night owl.

Q:  If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

A:  I would love to be able to fly.

Q:  If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

A:  Spotify for my music, The Weather Channel since I spend all of my spare time outside, and the MLB app as I am a huge baseball fan.

Q:  What’s one song you have completely memorized?

A:  Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band. To this day it is my favorite song.

Q:  What’s your most used emoji?

A:  The money bag.

Q:  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  I wanted to play First Base for the New York Yankees. Sadly, I had to settle for First Base at Slow Pitch Softball.

Client Relationship Building Email Templates for Brokers

Email MarketingIn email marketing, engagement and action rule the court. As email is both about content and creating action with that content. It’s about motivating folks to do something, whether that be a click, share, respond.

Here are a couple of email templates you can personalize to help kick start your next email campaign.

Introductory Email 

Hi (Client’s Name),

My name is (your name), and I am a (job title) from (company name). (Insert one or two introductory sentences about your experience in the industry and your company).

If you are looking for an industry expert and have a loan scenario I can help with, I would love to shop around for you and get you a competitive quote. I’d also be happy to discuss the different lending resources I work with, and if any fit your lending needs.

Contact me anytime via phone (phone number) or email (email address) with any questions or scenarios you may have.

Looking forward to working with you and helping you achieve your investment goals.

Sincerely,

(Signature)

Request for More Information Email 

Hi (Client’s Name),

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me earlier, and letting me know your real estate investing goals and the type of projects you usually work on.

As promised, I have attached additional resources and materials to help you better understand how I can help you reach your goals. (Describe a bit more about the materials attached)

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

(Signature)

Phone Call Follow-up Email 

Hello (Client’s name),

I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about your financing needs. I wanted to follow up with more information on the program I believe can be the best suited to your investing needs:

(Insert a couple of bullet points about your products based on your phone conversation)

Looking to get a quote? Contact me anytime, phone (phone number) or email (email address).

Looking forward to working with you and helping you achieve your investment goals.

Sincerely,

(Signature)

TouchPoint on Cold Clients 

Hi (Client’s Name),

It’s been a while since we last spoke. I hope all is going well on your end.

First of all, I’d like to catch up to hear how you and your business are doing and see if there’s a chance to help you further.

I remembered, last time we spoke, you were interested in (product X). We have made significant progress on this product which has been impressively received by many of our clients.

I would love to share these key updates with you when you have a moment. Please let me know if (date and time) fit into your calendar, if not, feel free to suggest a time that works best for you.

Please let me know if you have any questions prior so that I can have those answers lined up.

Best,

(Signature)

Email Marketing for Mortgage Professionals

Email MarketingIn today’s marketing world, marketers have emphasized the new technologies available such as chatbots, social media, and influencers to reach customers. But these new marketing methods shouldn’t dissuade folks from one of the most effective messaging channels – email marketing.

Folks might be wondering if email marketing is still a worthwhile effort in connecting with current and prospective clients, and well yes, yes it is. According to HubSpot, there are on average 3.9 BILLION daily email users and 80 percent of business professionals believe that email marketing has increased their customer retention.

Here are some important aspects to consider when crafting your next email campaign.

Subject Line

The main items to consider when creating a subject line for your email campaign is to keep it short, limit punctuation, be descriptive, and add some personalization. Low open rates typically show that the subject line is not relevant or interesting enough for your subscribers to want to open the email.

The best way to know what resonates with your clients is to test out different subject lines to increase your open rates. An effective subject line clearly describes what’s inside your email and is intriguing enough to get folks to want to learn more.

To test the subject line craft two to three versions that differ slightly, and then set them up in an A/B Testing Campaign. Most marketing email platforms will have A/B Testing as part of their software, but if not, you can segment your list of contacts evenly, with each list receiving one of the subject lines you are testing. This will allow you to see which subject line had a higher open rate, and you can craft your future emails using this similar style of subject lines.

Email Structure

Get to the point quickly. Most folks will skim through their emails first, so it’s important to keep your email short and right to the point, so it grabs their attention and, they respond right then and there.

Make the email personable. Greet your client by name, add in something you’ve talked about before and thank them for their business.

Provide a Call to Action (CTA). Make it easy for your client to respond or make it clear how you want them to respond. Include a calendar invite with your next planned call, your phone number, and any required information or documents you need.

Building Your List 

Segmenting your client lists can help increase engagement, open rates, and follow-up efforts. You can have folks on more than one list but split the list’s into contacts with similar demographics, interests, lending patterns, and where you met them, so you can send the right content to the right people. Research shows that a segmented email campaign can have a 14 percent higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns.

Additionally, if your combination of contacts in a segment is not receiving the engagement you’d like to see, experiment with the lists until you find the most effective way to reach your contacts.

Overall, emails are necessary to maintain relationships with your current and prospective clients. Email marketing is an increasingly preferred communication method, but like other forms of marketing still works hand-in-hand with phone calls as well to keep your interactions personal.

Meet the Team “Virtually”: Jordan Wells

Let’s meet our Broker Account Manager, Jordan Wells who joined our Bridge Loan Network team in 2020.  Jordan is responsible for fostering and maintaining relationships with brokers who utilize Bridge Loan Network’s suite of software offerings.

Q:  How do you prefer to start your day?

A:  I’d prefer to start my day peacefully, but it usually starts with my dog licking my face uncontrollably.

Q:  What’s your go-to productivity trick?

A: Writing down all my tasks in my notepad and crossing them off as I complete them. There’s something oddly satisfying about crossing tasks off once they’re finished.

Q:  How did you start working for Bridge Loan Network?

A: For almost six years I worked at an event ticketing company that struggled once the pandemic hit and I lost my job. I applied and interviewed for a job at Bridge Loan Network and the rest was history!

Q:  What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

A: My top accomplishment is hearing from brokers that use our software how much they appreciate the training and support that is provided to them by the Bridge Loan Network team.

Q:  What was your first job?

A: Cashier at Bob’s Stores

Q:  Are you an early bird, or night owl?

A: Night owl.

Q:  If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

A:  Ability to fly.

Q:  If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

A: Spotify, Instagram, and Waze.

Q:  What’s one song you have completely memorized?

A: Reminder – The Weeknd

Q:  What’s your most used emoji?

A: The shrugging emoji.

Q:  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: Commercial pilot.

Useful Apps for Real Estate Investors

There are many advantages to using a smartphone, both for personal and work use. With upgraded technology nowadays, there’s an app for almost everything! Have you thought about apps that might benefit you as a real estate investor to download? With numerous options to choose from, here are a few categories every real estate professional should think about downloading.

Edit Your Photos

Capturing the work you’ve done on fix & flips is extremely important. Photos are one of the best ways to market your product. But what do you do if you took the photos on a day with overcast? Or if they’re close to perfect but not quite there yet? This is when photo editing comes into play. Of course, you never want to mislead potential clients and completely distort the photos. However, minor touch-ups here and there can transform your photo from good to great. Great apps to use include Snapseed, VSCO, and Adobe Lightroom just to name a few. With a photo editing tool, you’ll be able to control exposure, adjust sharpness, and crop to your liking in no time!

Keep Track of Your Expenses

Tracking expenses is extremely important to stay within budget. With numerous purchases of materials that can occur during a fix and flip, maintaining a log of everything you’ve bought will only help you in the long run. Doing multiple projects at once? Even more of a reason to keep track of the expenses each project requires. QuickBooks is an extremely popular app many real estate professionals use. It’s also worth taking a look at Freshbooks and Xero among others to choose which app works best for you.

Scan Your Documents

Lots of paperwork can be overwhelming to deal with, which is why having a digital copy and filing it into folders can be very helpful. What’s even more convenient is being able to scan a document using your phone! Notable document scanning apps include Adobe Scan, Scanbot, Genius Scan, and CamScanner. Forget the photocopier and just grab your phone!

There are many more apps out there that can benefit you as a real estate investor. Start with these categories and see what additional apps can best suit you!

COVID Changing Renters Needs

Now more than ever our homes have become a top priority as the pandemic has shifted our day to day life in every aspect. Our homes have become office spaces, classrooms, workout studios, restaurants and more. And as COVID-19 has proven how folks are fully capable of working remotely, the work from home trend is expected to hold strong and consequently, will continue to shift home design trends for the remainder of 2020 and into the new year.

Well-designed living areas, outdoor areas, and designated spaces are at the top of everyone’s list as people are spending more time at home. With this in mind, here are three things remote workers are looking for in their rental properties.

Designated Spaces

As schools, offices, and gyms have all closed their doors, having spaces for these in our homes have become the top item on peoples wish-lists. The open floor plan of the past is no more, as renters are looking for designated, and flexible spaces within their homes. Extra bedrooms that double as a home office, finished basements for a home gym and space for the kids to hunker down and do their schoolwork. Specifically advertising these areas in your listing can help draw in more prospective tenants.

Additionally, outdoor living areas and backyards have become more sought after and something to still consider when looking for your next rental property even in the winter months. More renters are leaving their current homes for properties with more outdoor spaces.

Location

The lure of rental properties surrounded by bars, restaurants and shopping areas in larger cities is now being outweighed by homes in smaller cities with more space. According to the National Association of Realtors Research Group’s November Report, rents declined in the larger city of Dallas, while being up in Waco and Arlington, Texas. Additionally, rents declined in Los Angeles, while they rose in Bakersfield.  Smaller cities are seeing more surges as folks are flooding out of the crowded major cities.

Pet Friendly

Pet adoptions since March have surged as people are spending more time at home, and have taken the next step into pet ownership. Rental units and landlords who are more flexible about allowing cats and dogs will see more tenant applications than those who do not allow pets into their rental properties.  Plus, you can make more money by adding in a pet-rent fee or non-refundable security deposit upfront as well.

Overall, as flipping properties has decreased since March, rental units are being sought after by real estate investors. The National Association of Realtors Research Group’s November Report shows that the median apartment rent rose 12 percent in Q3 of 2020, and though some areas are showing signs of occupancy lose average rents have remained stable. When looking for your next rental property or renovating a current one, keep in mind how folks are spending more time at home and are looking for specific needs.

 

Meet the Team “Virtually”: Pamela Blakes

Let’s meet our Broker Account Manager, Pamela Blakes who joined our Bridge Loan Network team in 2020.  Pamela specializes in building and maintaining broker relationships, and providing education and support for Bridge Loan Network’s software platform. She loves gathering interesting tidbits about her clients, or a life lesson they have learned. She will be happy to add yours to her book of “Information I Could Learn from or Use to Help Someone Else”.

Q:  How do you prefer to start your day?

A:  I really like to just grab my coffee and get my day started, except weekends, haha.

Q:  What’s your go-to productivity trick?

A:  Honestly I just make sure I stay organized, and check things off the list as I go.

Q:  How did you start working for Bridge Loan Network?

A:  They found my resume online.

Q:  What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?

A:  My client relations. Creating a bond and being able to take that relationship and create great business together while relying on one another. Creates great success for both parties involved.

Q:  What was your first job?

A:  I worked in a hair salon.

Q:  Are you an early bird, or night owl?

A:  Early bird, all the way!

Q:  If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

A: Hmmmm, Let me think about that. I may be better as a Care bear. Power would be JOY!

Q:  If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

A:  Text, Music apps, Email.

Q:  What’s one song you have completely memorized?

A:  The Clash – London Calling

Q:  What’s your most used emoji?

A:  Heart, close second Cartwheel!

Q:  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  Rock Star!

Take Listing Pics like a Pro

Take Listing PicsAfter the renovations of your fix and flip have been completed, capturing the moment is essential! Not only to hold all the hard work you’ve done in a tangible form, but also for marketing. Don’t have a professional camera? Not a problem! With the right steps, you can take amazing photos with just your phone. Additionally, marketing your rental is also key to making a profit. And it starts with the perfect photos to share with potential clients.

Lighting

Good lighting can make or break any photo. If there isn’t enough lighting, the rooms can appear gloomy and overall give off a bad appearance. The goal of these photos is to give prospective clients the feel that they can see themselves in the space. Therefore, warm and inviting light helps create the illusion as well as opens up the space. Capitalize on getting the most amount of light into the room by taking photos on bright sunny days, opening the blinds, and turning on all the interior lights. Natural light is your friend so be sure to take full advantage of it. Although when taking photos be careful of shadows that can be cast. Shadows often come into play but can be dependent on the angles you take the photo.

Angles

Take a variety of photos from different angles. You don’t have to use them all, but it gives you an abundance of photos to work with. Not only can different angles give a variety, but the quality of the photos can change when factoring in other variables such as shadows. Keep in mind taking photos from corners opens up the room and adds dimension compared to straight-on photos that can make the room appear smaller.

Outside

Of course, capturing the rooms inside is essential, but so is capturing the outside! Outdoor living space can be a major attraction to prospective clients. Again, lighting will be a major component of getting the perfect photo. Be sure no personal belongings are in the shot such as your car in the driveway. And don’t get too caught up in the season you shoot! Although spring or summer may seem like the best options for blossoming flowers, fall and winter can be just as beautiful! Taking an outdoor photo with a fresh blanket of snow on the property or the fall foliage surrounding your fix & flip can add the perfect charm to your array of photos.

Shooting your fix and flip should be fun! All of your hard will pay off in these photos, so you want to be sure to capture the beauty. With these tips in mind, you will be able to take beautiful photos on a budget.

AAPL Annual Hybrid Event

Las Vegas AAPLBridge Loan Network is excited to be exhibiting at the upcoming Hybrid American Association of Private Lenders’ (AAPL) 11th Annual Conference. The Hybrid AAPL Conference is taking place November 15th through 17th both in Las Vegas and virtually and is the leading real estate lending conference connecting private lenders, brokers, crowd funders, and service providers.

The agenda for the conference is filled with captivating speaking sessions and ample networking opportunities (both virtually and in-person), including an opening night cocktail hour.

“I am very excited to attend my third AAPL Conference in November,” says Business Development Specialist, Jacob Therrien. “The quality of conversations, exhibitors, and attendees at the AAPL Conference is what makes this conference the best of the year. This event gives us an opportunity to meet the new companies in the industry, as well as, connect and strengthen long-standing relationships with other industry professionals.”

Stop by our Bridge Loan Network booth at the conference and online to learn how our Loan Origination Software can help take your Private Lending business to the next level!

For more details on the AAPL Annual Conference, click here.