What is the difference between a recourse and a nonrecourse loan in commercial real estate?

May 09, 2024

Recourse vs. Nonrecourse Loans: Understanding the Key Differences in Commercial Real Estate Financing

When it comes to financing commercial real estate, there are various options available to investors. Two common types of loans are recourse and nonrecourse loans. Understanding the differences between these loan types is crucial for making informed decisions and mitigating risks. In this article, we will explore the key differences between recourse and nonrecourse loans in commercial real estate financing.

Recourse Loans

A recourse loan is a type of loan where the lender has the right to pursue the borrower's personal assets in case of loan default. In other words, if the borrower fails to repay the loan, the lender can go after the borrower's personal assets, such as their home or savings, to recover the outstanding debt.

One advantage of recourse loans is that they typically have lower interest rates compared to nonrecourse loans. This is because the lender has additional security knowing they can recover the debt from the borrower's personal assets if necessary. However, this also means that borrowers assume more personal liability.

recourse loan

Nonrecourse Loans

Unlike recourse loans, nonrecourse loans do not allow the lender to pursue the borrower's personal assets in case of default. Instead, the lender's only recourse is the collateral provided for the loan, usually the property itself. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can seize the property but cannot go after the borrower's personal assets.

Nonrecourse loans are often considered less risky for borrowers because their personal assets are protected. However, this added security comes at a cost. Nonrecourse loans typically have higher interest rates compared to recourse loans due to the increased risk for the lender.

nonrecourse loan

Key Differences

Now that we understand the basic concepts of recourse and nonrecourse loans, let's delve into the key differences between the two:

  1. Personal Liability: With recourse loans, borrowers have personal liability, meaning their personal assets can be seized in case of default. Nonrecourse loans, on the other hand, do not hold borrowers personally liable.
  2. Interest Rates: Recourse loans generally have lower interest rates compared to nonrecourse loans due to the added security for lenders.
  3. Loan Approval Criteria: Nonrecourse loans often have stricter approval criteria compared to recourse loans. Lenders may require higher credit scores and larger down payments for nonrecourse financing.
  4. Loan Size: Recourse loans are typically available for larger loan amounts compared to nonrecourse loans. Nonrecourse loans are more commonly used for smaller commercial real estate transactions.

loan comparison

Choosing the Right Loan Type

When deciding between recourse and nonrecourse loans, it is essential to consider your risk tolerance, financial situation, and the specific details of your commercial real estate project. If you are comfortable assuming personal liability and want to benefit from lower interest rates, a recourse loan may be suitable. On the other hand, if protecting your personal assets is a priority, a nonrecourse loan might be the better option, even with higher interest rates.

Ultimately, consulting with a financial advisor or a commercial real estate professional can help you make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances and goals.

decision making


Recourse and nonrecourse loans are two distinct options for financing commercial real estate projects. While recourse loans offer lower interest rates, they come with the risk of personal liability. Nonrecourse loans, on the other hand, provide asset protection but often at higher interest rates. Understanding the key differences between these loan types is crucial for selecting the most suitable financing option for your commercial real estate venture.