Yes, nearly all hard money loans are interest-only, with only a few having a fully amortizing payment structure.
Hard money loans are mostly short-term loans used by real estate investors to bridge the gap during renovations, or for owners leasing out a building with tenants to qualify for long-term bank financing. The hard money lender will structure the loan with interest-only payments, since the duration is so short. A borrower can choose to make an additional principal payment to pay down a portion of the loan balance. However, principal payments are usually not required.
Interest-only payments on a $500,000 loan look like this:
The only place I’ve seen fully amortized hard money loans are on cannabis production properties. The reason hard money lenders offer fully amortized as opposed to interest-only loans on these niche property types is the lack of institutional financing options for cannabis growers, now and for the foreseeable future. Therefore, lenders give borrowers the option of paying off the loan over 15 years, rather than issuing new bridge loans that need to be paid off or rolled over (with new loan fees) every few years.
I consider the fully amortizing cannabis grow loans as occasional one-offs that happen every few years.
In all likelihood, if you’re seeking a hard money loan, interest-only payments will apply. You’ll have 11 interest-only payments with a final balloon payment due at maturity for the loan amount plus one payment.