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Utilising A Chattel Mortgage for Business Finance

A Chattel Mortgage loan is a simple yet effective finance option designed for business plant and equipment purchases. Here are six rules to consider when arranging finance for your business that will ensure that you retain full control over the loan process and save money in the process.
A well constructed Chattel Mortgage loan can give you a real competitive edge! The six rules to follow when negotiating a Chattel Mortgage are set out below.

Rule #1

Understand the mechanics of a Chattel Mortgage.
Basically, the Lender takes a security over the assets to be financed. The borrower owns the assets. A Chattel mortgage loan is a very old financial instrument and is well proven and documented. If you are going to finance your house or business, it's worth-while doing the research on chattel mortgages - and finding out more about them.
The difference between a hire purchase loan and a chattel mortgage loan is . .
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  • with a chattel mortgage, the ownership of the goods stay with the borrower ... i.e. the assets must be owned by the client.

    This is similar to a property mortgage loan. The borrower owns the property and the lender registers an interest in the property by having the mortgage loan registered in the title.
  • with a hire purchase loan, the lender owns the asset/s until the borrower has repaid the loan with interest. The borrower has full use of the asset but does not own it. The borrower also has contractual obligations in relation to the maintenance, insurance, etc. of the asset.

Rule #2

Understand the difference between a well-constructed Chattel Mortgage and a dealer-bundled loan offering.
The best way to buy goods is to separate the purchase of the goods from the loan that finances them. Obviously not all, but many in-house loan finance deals can be very expensive - and they are not transparent.
It can be quite difficult, even if you know what you are looking for in ascertaining how much interest you are paying, to establish the true cost of the goods that you are borrowing against.
What often happens is, the loan interest rate is discounted - so it appears to offer savings ... and then the dealer margin is loaded back up into the goods ... or the other way around. Unless you can unbundle a package from the seller of the dealer be very careful of the package.
What may seem like a bargain could turn out to be very expensive when you unravel the transaction and look at the individual components.

Handling trade-ins in a dealer or sellers bundled loan solution.
It's important that you do not allow the trade-in to be put into the loan bundles solution. This is where dealers and sellers make a lot of money at your expense. If there are well established second-hand markets for the goods that are being bought (Gumtree, Ebay, etc.), then the buyer should ascertain the market value of the goods to be traded. Once this is established then you are in a position to negotiate with the trade in value. It'll help you see how much flexibility that the seller really has on price - and how the deal is being structured.
If the purchase amount is significant (if you need to finance the purchase, we'll assume it's significant) then it would be a good idea to run the numbers past your accountant. There can be some significant tax implications if the deal is not well-structured.
Better still, talk to a finance or mortgage broker. He or she will know precisiely how to structure a deal to your specific business needs.

Rule #3

Get pre-approval for the loan before you buy the stuff!.
No instructions here ... this is simple, contact a Mortgage Broker to design the right package for you - and he/she will be able to lodge an application for 'assessment'. Having the finance pre-approved will also give you a bit more control in negotiating the purchase.

Rule #4

Understand the T&Cs.
It's important that you know and understand the terms and conditions of your Chattel Mortgage loan, particlarly as they relate to your obligations under the loan contract.
The lender has a clear claim to the goods in the event of default - and has many rights as the borrower has obligations! If you are involved in a large transaction, you should seek legal advice to explain the roles and obligations on all parties t the transaction. The cost of the advice could be very cheap compared to the cost of litigation of a loan that goes bad.
The fact that a Chattel mortgage loan is registered with a Government or Financial regulator under a Bill of Sale gives some idea of the legal structure and status of a Chattel Mortgage loan.
As with Hire Purchase loans, the loan period can be negotiated - usually somewhere between 12 and 60 months. However, in larger transactions, they can be for negotiated for longer periods of time.

Rule #5

Structure your payments to suit your cash flow.
One of the biggest mistakes when applying for loan finance and, particularly with Chattel Mortgage loans, is in not knowing the flexibility the lender can have on your specific circumstances.
Many businesses and householders are subject to seasonal, variable or contract payments. If this is you, ask your broker if the the repayments for the Chattel Loan can vary to fit around your seasonal income.
A lender can adjust the loan repayment schedule quite easily. There may or may not be an adjustment in interest on the loan ... but for the convenience of marrying your loan payment to your cash flow is something worthy of consideration.
At the first interview (with your broker and/or the lender), have evidence of your receipts on the pattern of income payments over a few years. Bank statements showing deposit and any contracts stating terms and conditions of payment will be necessary for a lender to consider.The reason for doing it at the first interview is - it sets the posture and they will be more inclined to look at it in a positive light.

Rule #6

Consider a balloon payment to keep your monthly loan payments down.
As with a Hire Purchase loan, or an equipment lease agreement, balloon (aka residual) payment options should be available.  A balloon, or residual payment is the last payment in a loan that can represent a substantial portion of the original loan. Loans can be structured this way to keep your payments low. This is because you are paying off only a smaller portion of the loan in your monthly repayments.
However there are some traps:
Ensure that the sale cost of the goods at the end of the loan is likely to be at least equal to the balloon payment. This is a common mistake made by many. It can lead to you having to re-finance the goods at the end of the initial loan - when they may be only half the value of the loan. Worse still, having to financing goods that you do not own!
Always seek financial and taxation advise when entering into a legal agreement. A Chattel Agreement is a legal document and you need to obtain the correct financial advice at all times.
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Knowledgebase
Mortgagor:
A person who offers to assign an asset as security (e.g. real estate) under a mortgage loan contract. The lender (mortgagee) holds the legal ownership of the security until the loan is repaid and the mortgage is discharged.