Private Lenders asking for a "retainer" or "due diligence" fee

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Are lenders who are asking for a "retainer" or "due diligence" fee a real thing?  Sounds, like another scam for real estate investors who are looking for money or need money as easy prey.  Can someone explain that process or is it just smoke???

Any money you're asked to pay upfront to a private lender should be a red flag.

Very common, though it's not unreasonable to try to say you will pay it at closing. That being said, it's also standard for a conventional lender to take a commitment fee, so if you consider it the same thing, it's not a big deal. Just make sure you vetted the private lender and their reputation before using them to make sure it's not a scam.

99% of those you find on line saying they are private lenders are private off shore scammers.. your money is gone.

There are a few lenders now asking for a small application fee. Like COGO Capital. Mainly because they have a lot of borrowers who end up shopping the terms and they complete like 3/4 of the steps and don't go through them so it covers some of those expenses. 

I think it's $199.00