Loan agreements fall into two main types, according to the type of lender, and according to the type of facility. With respect to the type of lender, there are bilateral loans and syndicated loans. Syndicated loans are provided by groups of lenders, and their structuring and arrangement, as well as their administration, are carried out by more than one bank, commercial or investment ones, and the lending banks are also referred to as arrangers.
Always obtain loan agreements in writing and read the fine print. One of the biggest mistakes borrowers make is entering into verbal agreements. If things go wrong there is no evidence to prove the case. Debtors should know the number of deferred payments, payment schedule, fees or penalties, and how the lender reports suspended payments to credit bureaus.
Borrowers should create a folder to store loan document records, along with a record of phone and email correspondence. Always keep track of phone conversations by writing down a summary of the call, date, time, and name of the bank representative spoken with. When important documents are mailed, invest in the extra protection of tracking receipts. Certified letters should be sent with a return receipt request in case it is necessary to provide evidence the documents were received.
Loan agreements, like any contract, reflect an "offer," the "acceptance of the offer," "consideration," and can only involve situations that are "legal" (a term loan agreement involving heroin drug sales is not "legal"). Loan agreements are documented via their commitment letters, agreements that reflect the understandings reached between the involved parties, a promissory note, and a collateral agreement (such as a mortgage or a personal guarantee). Loan agreements offered by regulated banks are different from those that are offered by finance companies in that banks receive a "banking charter" granted as a privilege and involving the "public trust."
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