Many borrowers that have “hair” on their potential commercial loan are forced to look at both the commercial stated income loan or the commercial hard money loan. Although both loans fit within the commercial “sub-prime” category, both fall into different niches. Neither option is ideal for the borrower, but either loan can be a viable option for borrowers that have been declined by traditional banks.What’s the difference?Commercial Stated Income Loans, as the name implies require less documentation than normal, and allow the borrower to essentially “state” their income and not provide tax returns. These loans are designed to be more of a long term hold for the borrower where as hard money is more short term. Fixed periods are typically 3-7 years (Can be as long as 30 years) and amortization periods are between 25-30 years. Prepayment penalties are stiff ranging from 5% for 5 years to 10% for 10 years.In addition, some stated income lenders require lock out periods for as long as 5 years. Currently (2008), rates range from 8.5% -13% with 1 – 2 points for the typical commercial stated income loan. On the positive side, loan to values on purchases can go up to 90% and up to 80% on refinances. Personal credit scores are very important with this loan program as well.Commercial Hard Money Loans in contrast, are designed to be more of short term solution as borrowers try to improve their situation. Lenders are very concerned with the borrowers exit strategies and want to be paid off within 6 -36 months. Rates are high at between 12%-16%, interest only, with 3-6 points on the front of the loan. Most hard money lenders do not have prepayment penalties – although a few do, they call them “exit fees”. Loan to values are a critical component, which are much lower with this program being typically capped at 50%-60%. Personal credit score are relevant but not as important as loan to value or the exit strategy.Which is the better option?Without oversimplify the situation, the borrowers loan to value, credit score and planned holding period, often decide this question for them. For example, if the borrower is attempting a cash out refinance at 75% loan to value, there are simply no hard money lenders that will fund that deal. The borrower would be forced to consider the Stated Income Loan. Another example would be if the borrower’s credit score was low at say 550. There are no stated income commercial lenders that would consider this transaction. However, many hard money lenders would still fund that deal if the rest of the details fall into line.If the borrower situation allows them to pick which route to go, the choice normally boils down to the expense of either loan. The rate and points are especially high with hard money, but the borrower can sell or refinance (once stabilized) the property without penalty in the near future. On the other hand the points and rate are lower with stated income but the prepayment penalties can be very expensive. If the borrower is planning on selling the property within the prepayment penalty period he should be very aware of this cost and be assured that the loan can afford it.