## LTV 101: Why Your Loan-to-Value Ratio Matters

If you are planning on applying for a home loan or for a mortgage refinance, you are likely going to want to know your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. This is calculated by dividing the loan principal by the value of the property. It’s an important metric when getting a mortgage approved because it reflects how much of the property’s value you are borrowing. A higher number may be seen as a riskier proposition by prospective lenders.

Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of calculating LTV, why it matters, and how it can have a financial impact over the life of a loan.

## LTV, a Pertinent Percentage

The relationship between the loan amount and the value of the asset securing that loan constitutes LTV.

To find the loan-to-value ratio, divide the loan amount (aka the loan principal) by the value of the property.

LTV = (Loan Value / Property Value) x 100

Here’s an example: Say you want to buy a \$200,000 home. You have \$20,000 set aside as a down payment and need to take out a \$180,000 mortgage. So here’s what your LTV calculation looks like:

180,000 / 200,000 = 0.9 or 90%

Here’s another example: You want to refinance your mortgage (which means getting a new home loan, hopefully at a lower interest rate). Your home is valued at \$350,000, and your mortgage balance is \$220,000.

220,000 / 350,000 = 0.628 or 63%

As the LTV percentage increases, the risk to the lender increases.

## Why Does LTV Matter?

Two major components of a mortgage loan can be affected by LTV: the interest rate and private mortgage insurance (PMI).

### Interest Rate

LTV, in conjunction with your income, financial history, and credit score, is a major factor in determining how much a loan will cost.

When a lender writes a loan that is close to the value of the property, the perceived risk of default is higher because the borrower has little equity built up and therefore little to lose.

Should the property go into foreclosure, the lender may be unable to recoup the money it lent. Because of this, lenders prefer borrowers with lower LTVs and will often reward them with better interest rates.

Though a 20% down payment is not essential for loan approval, someone with an 80% LTV or lower is likely to get a more competitive rate than a similar borrower with a 90% LTV.

The same goes for a refinance or home equity line of credit: If you have 20% equity in your home, or at least 80% LTV, you’re more likely to get a better rate.

If you’ve ever run the numbers on mortgage loans, you know that a rate difference of 1% could amount to thousands of dollars paid in interest over the life of the loan.

Let’s look at an example, where two people are applying for loans on identical \$300,000 properties.

Person One, Barb:

•  Puts 20%, or \$60,000, down, so their LTV is 80%. (240,000 / 300,000 = 80%)

•  Gets approved for a 4.5% interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage

•  Will pay \$197,778 in interest over the life of the loan

Person Two, Bill:

•  Puts 10%, or \$30,000, down, so their LTV is 90%. (270,000 / 300,000 = 90%)

•  Gets approved for a 5.5% interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage

•  Will pay \$281,891 in interest over the life of the loan

Bill will pay \$84,113 more in interest than Barb, though it is true that Bill also has a larger loan and pays more in interest because of that.

So let’s compare apples to apples: Let’s assume that Bill is also putting \$60,000 down and taking out a \$240,000 loan, but that loan interest rate remains at 5.5%. Now, Bill pays \$250,571 in interest;

The 1% difference in interest rates means Bill will pay nearly \$53,000 more over the life of the loan than Barb will. (It’s worth noting that there are costs when you refinance a mortgage; it’s a new loan, with closing expenses.)

💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage loan. When you buy a home, SoFi offers a guarantee that your loan will close on time. Backed by a \$5,000 credit.‡

### PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance

Your LTV ratio also determines whether you’ll be required to pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI helps protect your lender in the event that your house is foreclosed on and the lender assumes a loss in the process.

Your lender will charge you for PMI until your LTV reaches 78% (by law, if payments are current) or 80% (by request).

PMI can be a substantial added cost, typically ranging anywhere from 0.1% to 2% of the value of the loan per year. Using our example from above, a \$270,000 loan at 5.5% with a 1% PMI rate translates to \$225 per month for PMI, or about \$18,800 in PMI paid until 20% equity is reached.

Recommended: Understanding the Different Types of Mortgage Loans

## How Does LTV Change?

LTV changes when either the value of the property or the value of the loan changes.

If you’re a homeowner, the value of your property fluctuates with evolving market pressures. If you thought the value of your property increased significantly since your last home appraisal, you could have another appraisal done to document this. You could also potentially increase your home value through remodels or additions.

The balance of your loan should decrease over time as you make monthly mortgage payments, and this will lower your LTV. If you made a large payment toward your mortgage, that would significantly lower your LTV.

Whether through an increase in your property value or by reducing the loan, decreasing your LTV provides you with at least two possible money-saving options: the removal of PMI and/or refinancing to a lower rate.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

## The Takeaway

The loan-to-value ratio affects two big components of a mortgage loan: the interest rate and private mortgage insurance. A lower LTV percentage typically translates into more borrower benefits and less money spent over the life of the loan.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SoFi Mortgages

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOHL0623069

## What Is Mortgage Amortization?

If you’re looking into getting a mortgage for the first time, congratulations! You’re about to embark on a brave new adventure, full of highs and lows with (hopefully) a wonderful reward, aka your new home, at the finish line.

But before you get there, you’ll need to navigate some challenges. For instance: the somewhat intimidating home-buying terminology: prequalification vs. preapproval, for instance. And what on earth is escrow? And what does amortized mean?

Here, you’ll learn the answer to that last question, quickly and painlessly. Basically, mortgage amortization means that your mortgage loan payments will be spaced out over a period of time (typically 30 years) and will be calculated so that you always pay the same amount per month (if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, not a variable rate mortgage, that is).

That means that if you get a fixed-rate mortgage and your first payment in your first month is \$1,500, you know that you’ll pay \$1,500 in the last month of your mortgage, years later. If you take out a variable rate mortgage, the amount you pay each month will change periodically as the market rate fluctuates.

Also, as you pay your mortgage at first, most of the money paid goes toward interest and a little to the principal, but that shifts over time to the opposite scenario.

## Why Do People Choose Amortized Mortgages?

Mortgage amortization helps ensure that your obligations are predictable, which can make it easier for you to plan. If you take out a 30-year mortgage, then the amortization helps guarantee that in 30 years, you will have finished paying it off. For a fixed-rate mortgage, amortization also keeps all your payments consistently the same amount, rather than different amounts that depend on how much your principal is.

Recommended: The Different Kinds of Mortgages

## How to Calculate Amortization Using Tables

In real life, even if you choose an amortized mortgage, you may never need to figure out your 30 years or so of payments yourself. But it’s useful to see what goes into the table or payments (they’re not arbitrary!) and understand how it’s populated. Calculating your amortized mortgage really puts you on the front lines of homebuying.

Let’s say you take out a \$100,000 mortgage over 10 years at a 5% fixed interest rate. That means your monthly payment will be \$1,061. You can then divide your interest rate by 12 equal monthly payments. That works out to 0.4166% of interest per month. And that, in turn, means that in the first month of your loan, you’ll pay around \$417 toward interest and the remaining \$644 toward your principal.

Next, to calculate the second month, you’ll need to deduct your monthly payment from the starting balance to get the ‘balance after payment’ for the chart. You’ll also need to put the \$417 you paid in interest and \$644 you paid toward the principal in the chart. Then you can repeat the calculation of your monthly interest and principal breakdown, and continue inputting until you finish completing the chart.

Date Starting Balance Interest Principal Balance after payment
Jan, 2023 \$100,000 \$417 \$644 \$99,356
Feb, 2023 \$99,356 \$414 \$647 \$98,709
Mar, 2023 \$98,709 \$411 \$649 \$98,060
Apr, 2023 \$98,060 \$409 \$652 \$97,408
May, 2023 \$97,408 \$406 \$655 \$96,753
Jun, 2023 \$96,753 \$403 \$658 \$96,096
Jul, 2023 \$96,096 \$400 \$660 \$95,435
Aug, 2023 \$95,435 \$398 \$663 \$94,772
Sep, 2023 \$94,772 \$395 \$666 \$94,107
Oct, 2023 \$94,107 \$392 \$669 \$93,438
Nov, 2023 \$93,438 \$389 \$671 \$92,767
Dec, 2023 \$92,767 \$387 \$674 \$92,093

💡 Quick Tip: SoFi’s new Lock and Look* feature allows you to lock in a low mortgage financing rate for up to 90 days while you search for the perfect place to call home.

## How to Calculate Amortization Using a Calculator

So you can see that it’s not so difficult to calculate your amortized payments as it is time-consuming. Fortunately, you can save yourself the trouble by using an online amortization calculator . All you have to do is input info about your mortgage, including the amount you’re borrowing, your term length, and the interest you’re paying, and the calculator will do the math for you.

## What Are the Pros of an Amortized Mortgage?

Here are some of the benefits to consider:

•   You’ll slowly but surely pay off the mortgage principal of your home loan. With every month, you’ll get closer to owning your home outright!

•   It ensures that you pay a set amount for each payment over the life of your loan. With some loans you may end up paying more at the beginning or the end. A balloon mortgage, for example, requires you to pay interest charges monthly during the regular term. You then pay off large parts of the principal at the end of the loan period. (Thus, your payment literally balloons.)

•   You can often get better terms with an amortized loan. And you’ll save money in the long run by paying less interest over the life of your mortgage.

Recommended: What Is PMI and How to Avoid It

## What Are the Cons of an Amortized Mortgage?

Next, consider the downsides:

•   Amortized mortgages may favor borrowers who are putting down a larger down payment. To qualify for a competitive interest rate, you’ll probably need to put down 10% (if not 20%).

•   You might not be able to qualify to borrow as much money via an amortized mortgage as you would through an alternative mortgage, such as an interest-only mortgage or a balloon mortgage.

💡 Quick Tip: Your parents or grandparents probably got mortgages for 30 years. But these days, you can get them for 20, 15, or 10 years — and pay less interest over the life of the loan.

## The Takeaway

An amortized mortgage can be a good option for many homebuyers. It provides a steady way to pay down the principal of your home loan.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

*Terms and conditions apply. Applies to conventional purchase loans only. Rate will lock for 90 calendar days at the time of pre-approval subject to payment on 60th day of the fee below. If you submit a fully executed purchase contract within 30 days of the initial rate lock, SoFi will reduce the interest rate by an additional 0.125% at no cost. If current market pricing has improved by .75 percentage points or more from the original locked rate, you may qualify for an additional rate reduction. If you have not submitted a fully executed purchase contract within 60 days of your initial rate lock, you will be charged \$250 to maintain the rate lock through the 90-day period. The \$250 fee will be credited back to you at the time of closing. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate this offer at any time with or without notice to you.
*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

SoFi Mortgages

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

SOHL0623055

## What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows homeowners to turn part of their home equity into cash. Available to people 62 and older, a reverse mortgage can be set up and paid out as a lump sum, a monthly payment, or a line of credit, which can then be used to fund home renovations, consolidate debt, pay off medical expenses, or simply improve one’s lifestyle.

While older Americans, particularly retiring baby boomers, have increasingly drawn on this financial tool, reverse mortgages aren’t for everyone. Find out how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, and alternatives you might consider instead.

## How Does a Reverse Mortgage Work?

Usually when people refer to a reverse mortgage, they mean a federally insured home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). That being said, there are two other types of reverse mortgages (more on those below).

To qualify for an HECM, all owners of the home must be 62 or older and have paid off their home loan or have a considerable amount of equity. Borrowers must use the home as their primary residence or live in one of the units if the property is a two- to four-unit home. Certain condominium units and manufactured homes are also allowed. The borrower cannot have any delinquent federal debt. Plus, the following will be verified before approval:

•   Income, assets, monthly living expenses, and credit history

•   On-time payment of real estate taxes, plus hazard and flood insurance premiums, as applicable

The reverse mortgage amount you qualify for is determined based on the lesser of the appraised value or the HECM mortgage loan limit (the sales price for HECM to purchase), the age of the youngest borrower or the age of an eligible non-borrowing spouse, and current interest rates. Generally, the older you are and the more your home is worth, the higher your reverse mortgage amount could be, depending on other eligibility criteria.

The reverse mortgage loan and interest do not have to be repaid until the last surviving borrower dies, sells the house, or moves out permanently. In some cases, a non-borrowing spouse may be able to remain in the home.

### Loan Costs

An HECM loan may include several charges and fees, such as:

◦   Upfront fee (2% of the home’s appraised value or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lending limit, whichever is less)

◦   Annual fee (0.5% of the outstanding loan balance)

•   Third-party charges (an appraisal fee, surveys, inspections, title search, title insurance, recording fees, and credit checks)

•   Origination fee (the greater of \$2,500 or 2% of the first \$200,000 of the home value, plus 1% of the amount over \$200,000; the origination fee cap is \$6,000)

•   Servicing fee (up to \$30 per month if the loan interest rate is fixed or adjusted; if the interest rate can adjust monthly, up to \$35 per month)

•   Interest

Your lender can let you know which of the above fees are mandatory. Many of the costs can be paid out of the loan proceeds, meaning you wouldn’t have to pay them out of pocket. However, financing the loan costs reduces how much money will be available for your needs.

The servicing fee noted above is a cost you could incur from the lender or agent who services the loan and verifies that real estate taxes and hazard insurance premiums are kept current, sends you account statements, and disburses loan proceeds to you.

💡 Quick Tip: With SoFi, it takes just minutes to view your rate for a home loan online.

## What Is the Most Common Kind of Reverse Mortgage?

The most common type of reverse mortgage is the HECM, or home equity conversion mortgage, which can also be used later in life to help fund long-term care. HECM reverse mortgages are made by private lenders but are governed by rules set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The current loan limit is \$1,089,300.

To qualify for this kind of reverse mortgage loan, you must meet with an HECM counselor, which you can find through the HUD site. When you meet with the counselor, they may cover eligibility requirements, potential financial ramifications of the loan and when the loan would need to be paid back, including circumstances under which the outstanding amount would become immediately due and payable. The counselor may also share alternatives.

The reverse mortgage loan generally needs to be paid back if the borrower moves to another home for a majority of the year or to a long-term care facility for more than 12 consecutive months, and if no other borrower is listed on the loan.

However, a new HUD policy offers protections to a non-borrowing spouse when a partner moves into long-term care. The non-borrowing spouse may remain in the home as long as they continue to occupy the home as a principal residence, are still married, and were married at the time the reverse mortgage was issued to the spouse listed on the reverse mortgage.

In 2021, HUD also removed the major remaining impediment to a non-borrowing spouse who wanted to stay in the home after the borrower’s death. Now they will no longer have to provide proof of “good and marketable title or a legal right to remain in the home,” which often meant a probate filing and had forced many spouses into foreclosure.

## Two Other Types of Reverse Mortgages

The information provided so far answers the questions “What is a reverse mortgage?” and “How do reverse mortgages work?” for HECMs, but there are also two other kinds: the single-purpose reverse mortgage and the proprietary reverse mortgage.

### Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgage

This loan is offered by state and local governments and nonprofit agencies. It’s the least expensive option, but the lender determines how the funds can be used. For example, the loan might be approved to catch up on property taxes or to make necessary home repairs.

Check with the organization giving the loan for specifics about costs, as they can vary.

### Proprietary Reverse Mortgage

If a home is appraised at a value that exceeds the maximum for an HECM (\$1,089,300), a homeowner could pursue a proprietary reverse mortgage.

Counseling may be required before obtaining one of these loans, and a counselor can help a homeowner decide between an HECM and a proprietary loan.

Typically, proprietary reverse mortgages can only be cashed out in a lump sum. The costs can be substantial and interest rates higher. This type of reverse mortgage, unlike an HECM, is not federally insured, so lenders tend to approve a lower percentage of the home’s value than they would with an HECM.

One cost a borrower wouldn’t have to pay with a proprietary mortgage: upfront mortgage insurance or the monthly premiums. In some cases, the costs associated with this type of mortgage may cause a homeowner to decide to sell the home and buy a new one.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

## Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgages: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons

•   No monthly payments

•   Flexibility on how you get money

•   Can pay back the loan whenever you want

•   The money counts as a loan, not as income

•   An HECM can be used to buy a new primary residence

•   Rates can be higher than traditional mortgage rates

•   Generally requires reducing your home equity

•   Must keep up with property taxes, insurance, repairs and any association dues

•   Interest accrued isn’t deductible until it’s actually paid

If you’re nearing retirement, it’s easy to see why reverse mortgages are appealing. Here are some of their pros:

•   Unlike most loans, you don’t have to make any monthly payments. The HECM loan can be used for anything, whether that’s debt, health care, daily expenses, or buying a vacation home (although this is not true for the single-purpose variety).

•   How you get the money from an HECM is flexible. You can choose whether to get a lump sum, monthly disbursement, line of credit or some combination of the three.

•   You can pay back the loan whenever you want, even if that means waiting until you’re ready to sell the house. If the home is sold for less than the amount owed on the mortgage, borrowers may not have to pay back more than 95% of the home’s appraised value because the mortgage insurance paid on the loan covers the remainder.

•   The money from a reverse mortgage counts as a loan, not as income. As a result, payments are not subject to income tax. Social Security and Medicare also are not affected.

•   An HECM can be used to buy a new primary residence. You’d make a down payment and then finance the rest of the purchase with the reverse mortgage.

Then again, here are some cons of reverse mortgages to consider:

•   Reverse mortgage interest rates can be higher than traditional mortgage rates. The added cost of mortgage insurance also applies, and, like most mortgage loans, there are origination and third-party fees you will be responsible for paying, as described above.

•   Taking out a reverse mortgage generally means reducing the equity in your home. That can mean leaving less for those who might inherit your house.

•   You’ll need to keep up property taxes and insurance, repairs, and any association dues. If you don’t pay insurance or taxes, or if you let your home go into disrepair, you risk defaulting on the reverse mortgage, which means the outstanding balance could be called as immediately “due and payable.”

•   Interest accrued on a reverse mortgage isn’t deductible until it’s actually paid (usually when the loan is paid off). And a deduction of mortgage interest may be limited.

## Alternatives to Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage payout depends on the borrower’s age, the value of their home, the mortgage interest rate and loan fees, as well as whether they choose a lump sum, line of credit, monthly payment, or a combination of those options.

If the payout will not provide financial stability that allows an individual to age in place, there are other ways to tap into cash, including:

Cash-out refi: If you meet credit and income requirements, you may be able to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value with a cash-out refinance of an existing mortgage. Closing costs are involved, but this product lets you turn home equity into cash and possibly lock in a lower interest rate.

Personal loan: A personal loan could provide a lump sum without diminishing the equity in your home. This kind of loan does not use your home as collateral. It’s generally a loan for shorter-term purposes.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC): A HELOC, based in part on your home equity, provides access to cash in case you need it but requires interest payments only on the money you actually borrow. Sometimes a lender will waive or reduce closing costs if you keep the line open for at least three years. HELOCs usually have a variable interest rate.

💡 Recommended: What Are Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)?

Home equity loan: A fixed-rate home equity loan allows you to borrow a lump sum based on your home’s market value, minus any existing mortgages. You make a monthly principal and interest payment each month. Again, lenders may reduce or waive closing costs if you keep the loan for, usually, at least three years.

## The Takeaway

A reverse mortgage may make sense for some older people who need to supplement their cash flow. But many factors must be considered, including the youngest homeowner’s age, home value, equity, loan rate and costs, heirs, and payout type. As homeowners are weighing the pros and cons, remember there are other options.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Mortgages

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.

SOHL0623076

## What Is a Reverse Merger?

In a traditional merger, a company may acquire another that is in a similar or complementary business in order to expand its footprint or reduce competition. A “reverse merger” works quite differently, and investors are eyeing the assets of a private company.

The acquiring company in a reverse merger is called a public “shell company,” and it may have few to no assets. The shell company acquires a private operating company. This can allow the private company to bypass an initial public offering, a potentially lengthy, expensive process. In essence, the reverse merger is seen as a faster and cheaper method of “going public” than an IPO.

## Reverse Merger Meaning

As mentioned, the meaning of the term “reverse merger” is when a group of investors takes over a company, rather than a competing or complementary business acquiring or absorbing a competitor. It’s a “reverse” of a traditional merger, in many ways, and appearances.

A reverse merger can also act as a sort of back door in. It can also be a way for companies to eschew the IPO process, or for foreign-based companies to access U.S. capital markets quickly.

## What Is Investors’ Motivation?

Investors may purchase units or shares in a shell company, hoping their investment will increase once a target company is chosen and acquired. This can be good for values of stocks when companies merge, netting those investors a profit.

In other cases, investors may own stock in a publicly traded company that is not doing well and is using a reverse merger to boost share values for shareholders through the acquisition of a new company.

In either case, shareholders can vote on the acquisition before a deal is done. Once the deal is complete, the name and stock symbol of the company may change to represent that of the formerly private company.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that opening a brokerage account typically doesn’t come with any setup costs? Often, the only requirement to open a brokerage account — aside from providing personal details — is making an initial deposit.

## How Do Reverse Mergers Work?

A shell company may have a primary purpose of acquiring private companies and making them public, bypassing the traditional IPO process. These types of companies can also be called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) or “blank check companies,” because they usually don’t have a target when they’re formed.

They may set a funding goal, but the managers of the SPAC will have control over how much money they will use during an acquisition.

A SPAC can be considered a sort of cousin of private equity in that it raises capital to invest in privately traded companies. But unlike private equity firms, which can keep a private company private for however long they wish, the SPAC aims to find a private company to turn public.

During its inception, a SPAC will seek sponsors, who will be allowed to retain equity in the SPAC after its IPO. There’s a lot to consider here, such as the differences and potential advantages for investors when comparing an IPO vs. acquisition via SPAC.

The SPAC may have a time limit to find a company appropriate to acquire. At a certain point during the process, the SPAC may be publicly tradable. It also may be available for investors to buy units of the company at a set price.

Once the SPAC chooses a company, shareholders can vote on the deal. Once the deal is complete, managers get a percentage of the profits from the deal, and shareholders own shares of the newly acquired company.

If the SPAC does not find a company within the specified time period — or if a deal is not voted through — investors will get back their money, minus any fees or expenses incurred during the life of the SPAC. The SPAC is not supposed to last forever. It is a temporary shell created exclusively to find companies to take public through acquisition.

## Are Reverse Mergers Risky?

Investing in a SPAC can be risky because investors don’t have the same information they have from a publicly traded company. The lack of transparency and standard analytical tools for considering investments could heighten risk.

The SPAC itself has little to no cash flow or business blueprint, and the compressed time frame can make it tough for investors to make sure due diligence has been done on the private company or companies it plans to acquire.

Once a deal has gone through, the SPAC stock converts to the stock of the formerly private company. That’s why many investors rely on the reputation of the founding sponsors of the SPAC, many of whom may be industry executives with extensive merger and acquisition experience.

💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

## What Are the Pros and Cons of Reverse Mergers for Investors?

For investors, reverse mergers can have advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a rundown.

### Pros of Reverse Mergers

One advantage of a reverse merger — being via SPAC or some other method — is that the process is relatively simple. The IPO process is long and complicated, which is one of the chief reasons companies may opt for a reverse merger when going public.

As such, they may also be less risky than an IPO, which can get derailed during the elongated process, and the whole thing may be less susceptible to the overall conditions in the market.

### Cons of Reverse Mergers

Conversely, a reverse merger requires that a significant amount of due diligence is done by investors and those leading the merger. There’s always risk involved, and it can be a chore to suss it all out. Further, there’s a chance that a company’s stock won’t see a surge in demand, and that share values could fall.

Finally, there are regulatory issues to be aware of that can be a big hurdle for some companies that are making the transition from private to public. There are different rules, in other words, and it can take some time for staff to get up to speed.

Pros and Cons of Reverse Mergers for Investors

Pros

Cons

Simple Homework to be done
Lower risks than IPO Risk of share values falling
Less susceptibility to market forces Regulation and compliance

## An Example of a Reverse Merger

SPACs have become more common in the financial industry over the past five years or so, and were particularly popular in 2020 and 2021. Here are some examples.

Snack company UTZ went public in August 2020 through Collier Creek Holdings. When the deal was announced, investors could buy shares of Collier Creek Holdings, but the shares would be converted to UTZ upon completion of the deal. If the merger was successful, shareholders had the option to hold the stock or sell.

But sometimes, SPAC deals do not reach completion. For example, casual restaurant chain TGI Fridays was poised to enter a \$380 million merger in 2020 through acquisition by shell company Allegro Merger — a deal that was called off in April 2020 partially due to the “extraordinary market conditions” at the time.

Allegro Merger’s stock was liquidated, while the owners of TGI Fridays — two investment firms — kept the company.

## Investor Considerations About Reverse Mergers

Some SPACs may trade in exchange markets, but others may trade over the counter.

Over-the-counter, or off-exchange, trading is done without exchange supervision, directly between two parties. This can give the two parties more flexibility in deal terms but does not have the transparency of deals done on an exchange.

This can make it challenging for investors to understand the specifics of how a SPAC is operating, including the financials, operations, and management.

Another challenge may be that a shell company is planning a reverse merger with a company in another country. This can make auditing difficult, even when good-faith efforts are put forth.

That said, it’s a good idea for investors to perform due diligence and evaluate the shell company or SPAC as they would analyze a stock. This includes researching the company and reviewing its SEC filings.

Not all companies are required to file reports with the SEC. For these non-reporting companies, investors may need to do more due diligence on their own to determine how sound the company is. Of course, non-reporting companies can be financially sound, but an investor may have to do the legwork and ask for paperwork to help answer questions that would otherwise be answered in SEC filings.

## Investing With SoFi

Understanding reverse mergers can be helpful as SPACs become an increasingly important component of the IPO investing landscape. It can also be good to know how investments in reverse merger companies can fit financial goals.

Many investors get a thrill from the “big risk, big reward” potential of SPACs, as well as the relatively affordable per-unit price or stock share that may be available to them.

Due diligence, consideration of the downsides, and a well-balanced portfolio may lessen risk in the uncertain world of reverse mergers. If you’re interested in learning how they could affect your portfolio or investing decisions, it may be a good idea to speak with a financial professional.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to \$1,000 in the stock of your choice.

## FAQ

### What is an example of a reverse merger?

A SPAC transaction is an example of a reverse merger, which would be when a SPAC is founded and taken public. Shares of the SPAC are sold to investors, and then the SPAC targets and acquires a private company, taking it public.

### Why would a company do a reverse merger?

A reverse merger can be a relatively simple way for a company to go public. The traditional path to going public, through the IPO process, is often long, expensive, and risky, and a reverse merger can offer a simpler alternative.

### How are reverse mergers and SPACs different?

The term “reverse merger” refers to the action being taken, or a company being taken public through a transaction or acquisition. A SPAC, on the other hand, is a vehicle or business entity used to facilitate that acquisition.

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## The Difference Between Secured vs Unsecured Debt

Debts fall into two broad categories: secured debt and unsecured debt. Though both types of debt share some similarities, there is one key difference. Secured debt is backed by collateral, and unsecured debt isn’t.

It’s important for borrowers to understand how secured and unsecured debt work. That’s because the type of debt you choose could impact such things as loan terms and interest rate and whether you can get credit, and can be one tool to help you determine the order in which you’ll repay the debt.

## What Is Secured Debt?

Secured debts are backed, or secured, by an asset, such as your house. This asset acts as collateral for the debt, and your lender is what is known as the lien holder. If you default on a secured debt, the lien gives your lender the right to seize the asset and sell it to settle your debt.

Mortgages and auto loans are two common types of secured debt. A mortgage loan is secured by the house, and an auto loan is secured by the vehicle. You may also encounter title loans, which allow you to use the title of your vehicle to secure other loans once you own a car outright.

### What Are the Possible Benefits of Secured Loans?

Because lenders can seize an asset to pay off the debt, secured loans are considered less risky for the lender than unsecured loans. “Low risk” for a lender can translate into benefits for borrowers. Secured loans generally offer better financing terms, such as lower interest rates.

Secured loans may also be easier for borrowers to qualify for. For example, secured loans may have less stringent requirements for credit score compared to unsecured loans, which generally rely more on the actual credit and income profile of the customer.

### What Are the Stakes?

The stakes for borrowers can be pretty high for secured loans. After all, consider what happens if you stop paying these debts. (Timeframes for secured loan default can vary depending upon the type of secured debt and lender terms.) The bank can seize the secured asset, which might be the house you live in or the car you need to drive your kids to school or yourself to work.

Failing to pay your debt, or even paying it late, can possibly have a negative effect on your credit score and your ability to secure future credit, at least in the shorter term.

## What Is Unsecured Debt?

Unsecured debt is not backed up by collateral. Lenders do not generally have the right to seize your assets to pay off unsecured debt. Examples of unsecured debt include credit cards, student loans, and some personal loans.

### What Are Some Benefits of Unsecured Loans?

Unsecured loans can be less risky for borrowers because failing to pay them off does not usually result in your lender seizing important assets.

Unsecured loans often offer some flexibility, while secured loans can require that you use the money you borrow for very specific purposes, like buying a house or a car. With the exception of student loans, unsecured debt often allows you to use the money you borrow at your discretion.

You can buy whatever you want on a credit card, and you can use personal loans for almost any personal expense, including home renovations, buying a boat, or even paying off other debts.

### What Are the Stakes?

Though unsecured loans are less risky in some ways for borrowers, they are more risky for lenders. As a result, unsecured loans typically carry higher interest rates in comparison.

Even though these loans aren’t backed by an asset, missing payments can still have some pretty serious ramifications. First, as with secured loans, missed payments can negatively impact your credit score. A delinquent or default credit reporting can make it harder to secure additional loans, at least in the near future.

Not only that but if a borrower fails to pay off the unsecured debt, the lender may hire a collections agency to help them recover it. The collections agency may hound the borrower until arrangements to pay are made.

If that doesn’t work, the lender can take the borrower to court and ask to have wages garnished or, in some extreme cases, may even put a lien on an asset until the debt is paid off.

## Managing Secured and Unsecured Debt

Knowing whether a loan is secured or unsecured is one tool to help you figure out how to prioritize paying off your debt. If you’ve got some extra cash and want to make additional payments, there are a number of strategies for paying down your debt.

You might consider prioritizing your unsecured debt. The relatively higher interest typically associated with these debts can make them harder to pay off and could end up costing you more money in the long run. In this case, you might consider a budgeting strategy like the avalanche method to tackle your debts, whereby you’d direct extra payments toward your highest-interest rate debt first. (Be sure you have enough money to make at least minimum payments on all your debts before you start making extra payments on any one debt, of course.)

You can also manage your high-interest debt by consolidating it under one personal loan. A personal loan can be used to pay off many other debts, leaving the borrower with only one loan — ideally at a lower interest rate. Shop around at different lenders for the best rate and terms you can find.

Be cautious of personal loans that offer extended repayment terms. These loans lengthen the period of time over which you pay off your loan and may seem attractive through lower monthly payment options. However, choosing a longer term likely means you’ll end up paying more in interest over time.

## The Takeaway

Secured debt is backed up by collateral, such as a house. Unsecured debt doesn’t require collateral. The type of debt a borrower chooses may impact things like the cost of a loan and whether they can get credit. It can also help determine the order in which debt is repaid. Since unsecured loans could have higher interest rates or fees, you may decide to consider prioritizing paying down that debt first. A budgeting strategy like the avalanche method may make sense, as it calls for directing extra payments toward highest-interest rate debt first. Consolidating high-interest debt under one personal loan, ideally at a lower interest rate, is another strategy.

If you are thinking about taking out a loan to consolidate your debt, a SoFi unsecured personal loan could be a good option for your unique financial situation. SoFi personal loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

See if a personal loan from SoFi is right for you.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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