Recourse Loans and Non-Recourse Loans

Recourse Loans Create Personal Risk

Recourse loans are loans that allow the lender to come after you in case you default. You can contrast recourse loans with non-recourse loans, which create more risk for lenders. Let us take a look at recourse loans, how they work, and how to identify them.

Recourse Loans – The Recourse

Recourse loans get their name from the fact that lenders have power. They are allowed to go after you for amounts that you owe – even after they have taken collateral. If you default on a recourse loan, the lender can bring legal cases against you, garnish your wages, levy bank accounts, and try to collect the amount you owe.
A legal action to collect money after foreclosure is generally called a Deficiency Judgment.

  • How Deficiency Judgments Work
  • How Collateral Works
  • Non-Recourse Loans

A non-recourse loan does not allow the lender to pursue anything other than collateral. For example, if you default on your non-recourse home loan, the bank can only foreclose on the home. They generally cannot take further legal actions against you. The bank is out of luck even if the sale proceeds do not repay the loan.
Non-recourse loans create the most risk for lenders. Because they can only collect the collateral – and nothing else, they want to see lower loan to value ratios to reduce their risk. These loans may have higher interest rates than recourse loans.

Identifying Loan Types

You should consult your attorney or tax adviser to be certain whether you have a recourse loan or a non-recourse loan. However, you can use the information below for discussion.
State laws often dictate whether a loan is a recourse loan or not. California is best known as a non-recourse loan state that makes it hard for lenders to sue. Some states give lenders flexibility in how they pursue defaults, but many lenders choose not to sue because defaulting borrowers often do not have much to sue for.

List of State Laws on Recourse Loans

Look up your state and see your country or state’s rules on deficiency judgments.
Refinances, second mortgages, and “cash out” transactions tend to create recourse loans.
Purchase loans for your primary residence are most likely non-recourse loans in non-recourse states.