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4 Types of Business Collateral Used to Secure Loans
November 17, 2020
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4 Types of Business Collateral Used to Secure Loans

When you take out any type of loan, you’re putting your business’s reputation, profits, and credit score on the line. With a secured loan, collateral is also at risk. However, unlike your reputation, profits, and credit history, you have choices when it comes to choosing the type of collateral you’re willing to risk.

That’s because there are several types of business collateral that can be used to secure a loan. Of course, as with any financing-related choice you make, there are benefits and drawbacks related to the collateral you choose.

In this post, we’ll review four types of collateral you could use to secure a loan. In addition, we’ll explore how your choice of collateral will affect your business.

What Types of Collateral Can You Submit For a Secured Business Loan?

1. Real Estate

As you may know, using a home as collateral for a small business loan is a viable option for many entrepreneurs. For lenders, real estate is an attractive way to secure a loan because it holds its value well. Entrepreneurs may also benefit because real estate is generally worth at least a couple hundred thousand dollars, which gives owners a chance to secure larger loans.

However, while real estate may be a convenient choice, it’s also a risky one. For example, if you put up your primary residence as collateral and default on your loan, you’ll lose your home. Of course, you could also use other real estate you use to run your business, but that’s a risky move as well, especially if you rely on that property for income.

Ultimately, risk is relative; if you own real estate that’s less critical to your life or business, it may be worth using if your lender requires collateral to get approved.

2. Equipment

Equipment can be used as collateral to secure a loan, but it depends on a few notable factors.

First, you’ll need to consider the value of the equipment, not just the price. For example, heavy machinery may technically be valuable, but if it’s difficult to find a buyer, it won’t be viewed as valuable to the lender. Similarly, computers or other hardware tend to become obsolete fairly quickly, so their value depreciates over time.

Still, if the loan amount is relatively low, equipment may be a great option to use as collateral. As the borrower, though, you should contemplate the consequences of losing that equipment to decide whether it’s worth the risk.

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3. Inventory

One of the most common forms of collateral that business lenders will accept is inventory. In fact, from a lender’s perspective, many of the considerations for equipment, such as liquidation value and future depreciation, apply to inventory as well. As a result, the amount and cost of your loan may vary by lender and how they value your inventory.

Again, by putting up inventory as collateral, you’ll risk losing it if you default on your loan agreement. As you can imagine, this can create a difficult scenario, especially if you have other debts (such as credit card debt).

In the event of loan default, your inventory will be gone, and you may have no other ways to generate a profit, pay off other debts, and keep your business in good standing.

4. Invoices

Waiting for monthly payments on outstanding invoices can cause major cash flow challenges for small business owners. However, you can put those invoices to work by using them as collateral for a business loan. If you choose to use invoices as collateral, you’ll receive cash from your lender and when it comes time, they’ll collect on the outstanding invoices. This is also known as invoice financing.

In this type of agreement, you’ll receive cash up front and won’t have to worry about waiting for the cash from your invoices to come in. However, you’ll have to pay fees or other costs to the lender which means your business will earn less money than it would if you collected the invoices yourself.

Finally, because the loan amount will be capped somewhere below the total value of your invoices, there will be a ceiling on how much you can borrow.

Which Loan Collateral Will Help You Borrow Money, Without Risking Your Business?

While deciding which type of collateral to use is by no means easy, it’s a fairly simple decision that comes down to one primary consideration; what are you willing to lose? Regardless of the personal or business assets you use as collateral, you need to live with the possibility that you could lose it, even if the chances of default are relatively low.

Once you answer that question, you can narrow your choices down based on what you need and the terms you’re likely to receive based on the type of collateral. For example, if you need a loan of over $100,000, most equipment won’t be worth enough to serve as collateral for a loan that large.

After understanding your needs, risk tolerance, and the limitations of different types of collateral, you’ll know which type of collateral best serves your business.

Of course, it’s also important to remember that unsecured loans are also an option. With an unsecured loan, you won’t have to offer collateral to be approved. Instead, a personal guarantee might be required.

Still, these loans often come in smaller amounts and can be more challenging to qualify for (especially if you have bad credit or an overall poor financial history). Ultimately, it’s crucial to consider both options, and make the choice that will best protect your company’s future.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in November 2020.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].