3 Ways to Handle Requests for Proof of Funds When You Don’t Have Any

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I write a lot about raising money from others, especially as a way to get started with multifamily investing even if you don’t have your own cash or good credit.

The challenge is that if you’re raising money, chances are that you don’t have the net worth or liquidity to satisfy a seller’s request for proof of funds. As a syndicator, you don’t already have the funds sitting in a bank account. You’re going to raise it from others and deposit the money into an escrow account for closing. But you don’t have it right now.

This can be a real challenge to get a seller to ratify a contract with you. It’s not uncommon for the broker and/or seller to want see proof of funds. This can be a major problem that you need to know how to address, and many sellers won’t accept your contract, even if you offer an outrageous price.

The underlying issue, of course, is that the seller doesn’t really believe you can actually close on the property. This is why they want to see proof of funds.

Related: 4 Priceless Contract Negotiation Tips to Keep You in Control of the Deal

While showing the seller actual proof of funds would certainly satisfy them, there are other things you can do instead. Here are 3 tips you can follow when you get the request to show proof of funds.

3 Ways to Handle Requests for Proof of Funds When You Don’t Have Any

Tip #1: Push Back

A request for proof of funds is a question of trust — or rather a lack of it. If the seller knew for sure you were going to be able to close, they wouldn’t ask you for this.

The first thing you should do is to push back with something like this:

“I understand you’re concerned about our ability to close since we will be raising the money. But I already have the verbal commitment from my investors for the money we’ll need to do the deal. It’ll be in the escrow account when we close, but I don’t have it in a bank account right now. So I can’t give you a proof of funds.

But how about this? Why don’t we get together and get to know each other? If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with moving ahead with us, we’ll part as friends. What do you say?”

If you’re feeling gutsy, you could add:

“If your seller insists on a proof of funds, we’re going to have to move on. I have another 4 deals I need to look at today.”

People do business with people they like and trust.

The best way to build trust is with an in-person meeting with the broker and/or the seller. This gives you a chance to build rapport, tell them what you’ve done and what you want to do, and share with them the team members you have around you.

If you can’t meet with the broker or seller in person, then you’ll need to do it remotely with a phone call and email. If only email is possible, create a cover letter that provides an overview of your accomplishments and how you will be raising money to complete the deal. Include a bio of yourself and the investor package for this deal.

Do the best you can to make the seller comfortable with moving forward with you.

If Tip #1 fails and you still want to get into the deal, here are two more tips for you to satisfy the seller’s request for proof of funds.

Tip #2: Demonstrate Intent by Your Investors to Invest

Another thing shy of an actual proof of funds is to offer to the seller letters of intent signed by each of the investors that indicates their interest to invest and the amount they are interested in investing.

I’ve done this with at least a couple of offers recently, in addition to a cover letter and bio, and it has satisfied the seller.

To the investors, the letter of intent is not legally binding in any way, and it doesn’t cost them anything to sign it; however, it adds significant credibility to your cause.

Tip #3: Get Proof of Funds From One of Your Investors

If Tip #2 doesn’t satisfy this obstinate buyer and you’re intent on getting into the deal, there is yet a third option. And that is to get one of your investors to give you a proof of funds.

Proof of funds can take different forms: It can be a bank or brokerage statement, or it can be a letter from the investor’s banker or broker. Many times investors prefer the latter because it doesn’t disclose exactly how much they have, but only confirms the amount that you need to show.

Related: The Simple, Effective Way to Build Seller Trust & Land More Deals

If you want an example of such a letter, just message me through my profile and I’ll email it to you.

A proof of funds statement or letter doesn’t cost the investor anything. It’s not legally binding, and it doesn’t require the investor to invest any money at all. So there is no obligation whatsoever on the part of the investor.

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon for a seller to want to see proof of funds. It’s the BEST way for the seller to stave off the riff-raff from tying his property up for the next 60 days without the ability to actually close. If you’re faced with a request for proof of funds, push back and try to make the seller comfortable with your ability to perform. If that fails, show the seller letters of intent signed by your potential investors. If even THAT fails, ask one of your investors to provide the proof of funds.

If you follow these tips, you’ll never get stumped by a proof of funds request again.

What strategies have you used when asked for proof of funds that you can’t necessarily provide?

Let’s discuss in the comments section below!

About Author

Michael Blank

Michael Blank’s passion is being an entrepreneur and helping others become (better) entrepreneurs. His focus is buying apartment buildings by raising money from private individuals. He’s been investing in residential and multifamily real estate since 2005. He is the creator of the Syndicated Deal Analyzer and the eBook "The Secret to Raising Money to Buy Your First Apartment Building".

21 Comments

  1. Steven Francis

    Very new to all of this. If my question seems simple, or you have already answered it, I apologize. When a broker is requesting prof of funds, are they only looking to see that you have the percentage needed for down payment? I may be talking apples and bananas, excuse if I’m mixing up ideas.

  2. CK Hwang

    Actually, jus to add one more technique, depending on the deal structure with the investor, odds are that if a person was borrowing money from an investor, there would be a loan document created ahead of time (normally by an attorney) that needs to be given to escrow in order to generate a trust deed to secure the investor’s funds. This document is pretty much like a cover letter issued by the bank indicating their willingness to lend, this could be used as proof of funds as well.

  3. Johnson Ejalu

    Nice post but I think it depends on the deal….If you are pursuing a institutional deal, lets say Fannie Mae for example you will be required to have 10% down for cash and/or a pre-approval letter if financing. Anything short of that and your offer will most likely be trashed.
    Tip 1 & 2 will probably work with non-institutional motivated sellers but even in such cases your chances of winning the seller’s trust is low especially if your competition is willing to show the money. Also some sellers may require a significant deposit as a result.
    What is your success rate in the DMV market without having to produce POF?

    • Michael Blank

      Hi Johnson – for Fannie, they require proof of liquidity of about 10% of the loan balance and a net worth equal to the loan balance. I don’t address these specifically in this article, but you could use an investor to satisfy these. But if you do, then that investor would need to be a signor on the loan docs.

  4. GLORIA DULAN-WILSON on

    That was extremely helpful – I’m still on the info gathering, not yet getting my feet wet stage – but there are some properties I am scheduled to see, and I don’t yet have any private money lenders lined up. I thought the letters of intent were the most helpful of the three recommendations – I don’t know if I’m at the point where I could bluff my way into getting around a seller wanting to see Proof of Funds. Thanks Michael, your information is always helpful and on point.

  5. Susan Maneck

    Since I often buy from HUD or Fannie Mae I have always had to give proof of funds for a cash deal. I don’t deal with private investors but I have been known to buy houses on my credit card. So what do I produce for proof of funds? My retirement accounts. Now aside from my solo401K which has been used to buy three houses, I have no intention of buying a house with my other retirement funds, but my use of them as proof of funds has never been questioned.

  6. Aaron Ramm

    Thanks for the good read Michael! I never thought of using an LOI in place of POF. As William stated, many hard money and private lenders will write you a POF letter for the amount you ask for to help you get it under contract.

  7. Jack Tyler

    I am brand new to REI (zero experience yet), but I have been trying to read up as much as possible too. I recently came across some information where, for a monthly fee, you can get a “proof of funds” statement. Is this legal, and/or ethical? I just want to make sure that when the time comes, I am acting legally and ethically, and don’t want to do anything that creates that “shady deal”. Thanks for the info!

  8. Jack Tyler

    I came across a video (advertisement) for a proof of funds service. Basically, you pay a monthly fee (I think this one was $29 or $39, don’t remember) and when you go to purchase a property, you can show them this proof of funds letter to show that you have access to funds. Since I’m new, I didn’t know if this is what most people do, meaning it is legal and ethical, or if this is something that might be “shady looking” at the very least. I believe the name and account numbers were blacked out. I guess it can make sense, especially for me, since I have no money, but through investing networks, technically the money is there (obviously not for me to just run down to an ATM and make a withdrawal). But I just wanted to get other experienced investors input to make sure it something that can be done legally and ethically. Sad part is though, right now I don’t have the money to do that anyway, I would just post a deal for other investors and let them work it out for now…after all, I’m as new to investing as it gets at this point lol

  9. Even if you use a proof of funds letter from an outside source and am able to get the property under contract, wouldn’t most lenders want, “YOU,” the investor to come up with 10% liquid cash to put into the deal? How are we as investors able to do so to accomplish 100% financing?

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