Is There a Danger of an Alternative Lending Bubble?

4page_img7-bigOnline “alternative lenders” have emerged as a vital source of capital for small businesses. But some of these lenders may be predatory and rising defaults may put the entire industry at risk.

Following the Great Recession small businesses have faced increased difficulty getting loans from traditional banks. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, loans under one million dollars have been declining every year and are twenty percent below pre-recession levels. A plethora of alternative lenders have emerged online, in order to meet the demands of small businesses that need financing. The loans such lenders offer are easy to qualify for but oftentimes can be very expensive. Furthermore this online marketplace is in essence completely unregulated. A lack of regulation and transparency puts many small business owners at risk of taking out loans from predatory lenders.

Unscrupulous lenders can avoid regulation simply by packaging their loans as advances. Because of this usury protections do not apply to these “advances” and there is no ceiling for what can be charged in interest. Triple digit APR is not uncommon in these cases. Many borrowers may be unaware of the total coast of the loan they are being offered. This is because there is no legal standard of disclosure when it comes to commercial lending. This enables predatory lenders to disguise the amount they charge in interest rates and fees. For example a lender may quote a ten percent interest rate, in reality this is only the monthly rate for the loan. The total interest on this loan amounts to one hundred and twenty percent annually. The lack of clear legal standards in the alternative lending industry could lead to a dangerous trend.

The explosion in online lending to small businesses could be following a familiar pattern, with alternative lenders issuing loans to unqualified borrowers in the pursuit of rapid growth.

Some liken the online commercial lending industry to the Wild West The fact that such loans are easy to qualify for ensures consistent demand from small business owners. Securitization of these loans and merchant cash advances in particular ( generally the riskiest and most expensive type of business loan available), could result in a pattern where online lenders issue loans to unqualified borrowers in the pursuit of rapid growth. In addition there is speculation that many online alternative lenders are overvalued, potentially forcing some organizations to justify their value by issuing new loans at all costs

Online alternative lenders are an invaluable resource for small businesses. However more needs to be done to protect both lenders and borrowers.

To begin with the rates on commercial loans issued online need to be competitive and fall within a reasonable standard. There needs to be a minimum amount of disclosure on the part of lenders to inform borrowers what the total cost of the loan will be. This will help borrowers avoid taking out loans they cannot afford. These basic protections will help protect borrowers from default, help lenders manage risk and protect the industry as a whole.

Dennis Dahlberg
Level 4 Funding LLC  Private Hard Money Lender
Arizona Tel:  (623) 582-4444
Texas Tel:      (512) 516-1177 NMLS 1057378 | AZMB 0923961 | MLO 1057378
22601 N 19th Ave Suite 112 | Phoenix | AZ | 85027
111 Congress Ave |Austin | Texas | 78701
About the Author:  Dennis has been working in the real estate industry in some capacity for the last 40 years. He purchased his first property when he was just 18 years old. He quickly learned about the amazing investment opportunities provided by trust deed investing and hard money loans. His desire to help others make money in real estate investing led him to specialize in alternative funding for real estate investors who may have trouble getting a traditional bank loan. Dennis is passionate about alternative funding sources and sharing his knowledge with others to help make their dreams come true. Dennis has been married to his wonderful wife for 42 years. They have 2 beautiful daughters 5 amazing grandchildren. Dennis has been an Arizona resident for the past 40 years.

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