A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Promissory Note Investment
Writing a check to invest in a promissory note begins the investing process that will provide you with future income and possibly capital gains. After your check is cashed, numerous administrative functions are necessary, on an on-going basis, to protect your investment and maximize its profitability. The administrative functions are called “Loan Servicing”.
Unfortunately, the Loan Servicing function is little understood by many and neglected by most. This neglect causes a discount and devaluation of your investment. Let’s learn how to increase your promissory note investing success and protect the investment through intelligent Loan Servicing.
Definition of ‘Loan Servicing’
Promissory note loan servicing provides administrative services for the loan from the time the proceeds are dispersed until the loan is paid off. Loan Servicing includes: sending monthly payment statements, collecting monthly payments, maintaining records of payments and balances, collecting and paying taxes and insurance, managing escrow and impound funds accounts, remitting funds to the note holder, and following up on payment delinquencies.
Promissory Note Loan Servicing Reports
Monthly and Annual Reports: gross income collected, real income collected, taxable income collected, and repayment of principal collected must be all be tracked separately and reported. Regular payments, partial payments, late payments, late fees, and service fees must be recorded and reported.
Year-end IRS Report Forms: 1096, 1098, 1099-A, and 1099-C must be prepared and remitted.
Loan Servicing Pitfalls and Traps
Realizing the specialization and complexity of the Loan Service function is the first step in dealing with it intelligently. Realizing that neglecting it will discount and devalue your investment is your wake-up call to handle it professionally and carefully. Doing Loan Servicing on scratch paper, or on the back of an envelope, will not satisfy the local State laws, Federal laws, or IRS rules and regulations-a good software Loan Servicing program is needed.
Many uninformed note investors do not realize their exposure to being sued by disgruntled borrowers, State Attorneys General, or by Federal law enforcement agencies. The legal expenses to defend one law suit, or one investigation, can wipe out a year’s investment income or more—even if you win; if you lose, it can be many times more costly.
Tips for Investing Success
The first rule for investing success: understand the details of the investment; understand its risks and rewards; understand your responsibilities and your rights; understand what you will do when an unexpected negative event happens.
The second rule for investing success: understand the details of administering the investment. Who does the Loan Servicing? Is that person or entity experienced and capable? How often will you receive reports on your investment? If you intend to do the Loan Servicing yourself you must realistically and objectively evaluate your own experience, capabilities and computer software facility.
Don’t underestimate the time and effort required; don’t overestimate your own capabilities.