Business Purpose Loans to Individuals Secured by Residential Property

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Business purpose loans to individuals secured by residential property represent a niche, yet significant, segment of the private lending market. These loans differ from traditional owner-occupied dwelling mortgages as they are intended for business, investment, or commercial purposes rather than personal, family, or household use. Understanding the intricacies of such loans is essential for lenders, borrowers, and legal practitioners to navigate the regulatory landscape and ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Definition and Scope

A business purpose loan is a loan made to an individual or entity primarily for commercial, investment, or business purposes. When such a loan is secured by residential property, it means that the borrower’s residential property serves as collateral for the loan. Despite the collateral being residential, the loan’s intent distinguishes it from consumer mortgages. Typical purposes for these loans include financing business operations, investing in rental properties, or other commercial ventures.

Regulatory Framework

The regulatory landscape for business purpose loans secured by residential property is complex, as it straddles the lines between commercial and residential lending. Key regulations and laws include:

1. Truth in Lending Act (TILA)

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) primarily aims to protect consumers in personal credit transactions. However, it provides exemptions for credit extended primarily for business, commercial, or agricultural purposes. To determine if a loan is for business purposes, lenders can apply the 7-part test established by the Federal Reserve Board. This test considers the following factors:

  1. The relationship of the borrower’s primary occupation to the acquisition: If the borrower’s primary occupation is directly related to the purpose of the loan, it is more likely to be deemed a business purpose loan. For example, a loan to a real estate investor to purchase rental properties would likely qualify.
  2. The degree to which the borrower will personally manage the business: Loans intended for businesses that the borrower will actively manage are more likely to be considered business purpose loans.
  3. The ratio of income from the business to total income of the borrower: If a significant portion of the borrower’s income comes from the business, this supports a business purpose determination.
  4. The size of the transaction: Larger transactions are more likely to be considered business purpose loans.
  5. The borrower’s statement of purpose for the loan: A clear and detailed statement from the borrower explaining the business purpose of the loan can help in classification.
  6. Whether the loan is secured by the borrower’s residence. While not determinative, if the loan is secured by the borrower’s primary residence, it is typically scrutinized more closely.
  7. The amount of income derived from the property: If the property generates significant income, such as rental income, it supports the business purpose classification.

Lenders must diligently document and verify these factors to ensure the loan qualifies as a business purpose loan under TILA.

2. State Regulations

State laws and regulations may impose additional requirements or restrictions on business purpose loans secured by residential property. These can vary significantly from state to state, with some states having more stringent regulations. Lenders must be aware of and comply with relevant state laws to avoid legal complications.

Underwriting and Documentation

Underwriting business purpose loans secured by residential property requires a different approach compared to traditional residential mortgages. Key considerations include:

1. Purpose Verification

Lenders must thoroughly verify that the loan’s primary purpose is business-related. This involves a multifaceted approach, including reviewing the borrower’s business plan, financial statements, and the intended use of the loan proceeds. Clear documentation demonstrating the business intent is essential to satisfy regulatory requirements and mitigate risk. Borrowers can support this verification process by providing specific representations to the lender under penalty of perjury, ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of their statements. Key steps in the purpose verification process include:

2. Business Plan Review

The borrower could submit a detailed business plan outlining the intended use of the loan proceeds. This plan should include the nature of the business, projected financials, and a timeline for achieving business milestones. The borrower must represent under penalty of perjury that the business plan is accurate and that the loan proceeds will be used exclusively for the stated business purposes. This should also be documented and represented as true and accurate by the borrower.

3. Financial Statements

The borrower should provide recent financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, to demonstrate the financial health of the business. These documents help the lender assess the viability of the business and the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. The borrower must represent under penalty of perjury that these financial statements are true and correct to the best of their knowledge.

4. Intended Use of Loan Proceeds

The borrower should explicitly detail how the loan proceeds will be used, specifying business-related expenditures such as equipment purchases, operating expenses, or property investments. The borrower must represent under penalty of perjury that the funds will not be used for personal, family, or household purposes.

5. Business Purpose Affidavit

The borrower should sign a business purpose affidavit, a legal document affirming that the primary purpose of the loan is for business activities. This affidavit, executed under penalty of perjury, serves as a formal declaration of the loan’s intended use, and reinforces the borrower’s commitment to using the funds for business purposes.

6. Supporting Documentation

Additional documentation, such as contracts, invoices, or purchase orders related to the business activities funded by the loan, can further substantiate the business purpose. The borrower must represent under penalty of perjury that these documents are genuine and accurately reflect the business transactions.

7. Ongoing Compliance

 The borrower should agree to provide periodic updates and financial reports to the lender throughout the loan term. These updates ensure that the loan proceeds continue to be used for the intended business purposes. The borrower must represent under penalty of perjury that these updates are accurate and reflect the true status of the business.


Business purpose loans to individuals secured by residential property are a unique financial product that blends elements of both commercial and residential lending. Understanding the regulatory framework, underwriting requirements, and risk management strategies is essential for lenders and borrowers alike. Properly navigating these loans ensures compliance with applicable laws, mitigates risks, and promotes successful business outcomes. As this niche segment continues to evolve, staying informed and adapting to regulatory changes will be key to maintaining a robust and compliant lending practice.

Contact the team at Geraci LLP for all questions regarding business purpose loans.

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