What Are Non-Recourse Loans?

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 What Are Non-Recourse Loans?

Non-recourse loans are a type of debt where the lender’s only recourse in the case of default is the collateral securing the loan. In simpler terms, if the borrower defaults, the non recourse loan lender can only take the collateral (like a piece of real estate) and not pursue the borrower’s assets to satisfy the loan.

“Default” refers to the failure to fulfill a duty or promise, especially in the context of loans or financial obligations. When a borrower defaults on a loan, it means they have failed to make the required payments on time or have violated another term of the loan agreement.

In the case of a mortgage, for example, default typically means that the borrower has not made their scheduled monthly payments for a certain period. Defaulting on a loan can trigger various consequences, such as late fees, higher interest rates, or, in the case of secured loans like mortgages, the foreclosure of the property used as collateral.

Considering a non-recourse loan definition highlights the limitation on the lender’s ability to seek repayment. This type of loan often appeals to borrowers for its potential to limit personal liability.

Are Non-Recourse Loans Allowed in Every State?

Not all states allow non-recourse loans. The permissibility and conditions of these loans vary depending on state laws. Some states predominantly offer non-recourse loan real estate options, while others might have more restrictions or not permit them. Additionally, non-recourse loan rates might fluctuate based on state regulations and the overall risk associated with these loans.

Here are some examples of how non-recourse loans are treated differently in various states:

  • In California, non-recourse loans are the norm for purchase-money mortgages used to buy a home. However, refinanced loans, home equity lines of credit, and home equity loans are generally recourse loans.
  • In Florida, non-recourse loan mortgages are rare; most mortgages are recourse loans. Lenders can pursue borrowers for the deficiency balance after a foreclosure sale. However, Florida also has a one-action rule that limits lenders to only one lawsuit to collect a mortgage debt.
  • In Texas, non-recourse loans are allowed for home equity loans, which use the borrower’s home as collateral. However, Texas also has strict rules that limit the amount of home equity loans to 80% of the home’s value and prohibit borrowers from having more than one home equity loan at a time.
  • In Florida, non-recourse loans are rare, and most mortgages are recourse loans. Lenders can pursue borrowers for the deficiency balance after a foreclosure sale. However, Florida also has a one-action rule that limits lenders to only one lawsuit to collect a mortgage debt.
  • In Georgia, non-recourse loans are not allowed, and all mortgages are recourse loans. This means that lenders can sue borrowers for the full amount of the debt, plus interest and fees, even after foreclosing on the property. Georgia also does not have a one-action rule so that lenders can pursue borrowers in multiple lawsuits.
  • In New York, non-recourse loans are available for some types of mortgages, such as purchase-money mortgages and FHA loans. However, refinanced loans, home equity loans, and second mortgages are generally recourse loans. New York also has a six-month redemption period, allowing borrowers to reclaim their property after a foreclosure sale by paying the full debt.

How Are Non-Recourse Loans Affected by Anti-Deficiency Laws?

Anti-deficiency laws prohibit lenders from suing borrowers for the difference between the loan amount and the foreclosure sale price. These laws are often tied closely to non-recourse loans.

In states where anti-deficiency laws are strong, lenders are limited in their ability to pursue borrowers beyond the value of the collateral. Thus, non-recourse loan agreements in these states provide a layer of protection for the borrower.

Here are some specific state examples of how these laws work:


California’s anti-deficiency statute primarily prohibits deficiency judgments after a non-judicial foreclosure on a purchase money mortgage (a mortgage used to buy the property).

If a borrower defaults on a loan used to purchase their home, the lender can’t obtain a deficiency judgment. However, this protection doesn’t apply to refinanced mortgages or second mortgages.


Arizona’s anti-deficiency laws protect borrowers with mortgages on properties of 2.5 acres or less that are utilized as a single one-family or two-family dwelling.

If such a property goes through a foreclosure or trustee’s sale, the lender can’t sue the borrower for any remaining balance.


In Nevada, anti-deficiency laws offer protections for borrowers who took out loans to purchase their primary residence.

Lenders can’t obtain a deficiency judgment against a borrower if the property is a single-family home occupied continuously by the borrower and if the lender is a financial institution.


Oregon’s anti-deficiency laws prevent lenders from seeking deficiency judgments after non-judicial foreclosures.

However, a lender can seek a deficiency judgment after a judicial foreclosure, but they must file a lawsuit within a specified timeframe.


Minnesota prevents deficiency judgments in the case of non-judicial foreclosures. However, if a lender opts for a judicial foreclosure, they can potentially pursue a deficiency judgment.


Colorado offers anti-deficiency protection to borrowers under the “Deed of Trust Act.” A deficiency judgment is not allowed if a property is sold through a Public Trustee foreclosure (non-judicial). However, lenders can still pursue a judicial foreclosure and potentially obtain a deficiency judgment.


Washington state prohibits deficiency judgments after non-judicial foreclosures on residential properties. However, lenders might be able to pursue a deficiency judgment for judicial foreclosures.


Montana does not generally permit deficiency judgments. If a mortgage or deed of trust contains a clause that allows for a deficiency, it will be deemed void.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, deficiency judgments are allowed. However, if the loan was a purchase money mortgage (used to buy the property), then the lender cannot obtain a deficiency judgment.

What Happens If I Fail to Pay My Non-Recourse Debt?

If you default on a non-recourse debt, the lender has the right to seize the collateral tied to the loan, like a piece of property, in the case of a non-recourse mortgage.

However, once the collateral is seized and sold, the lender cannot come after your other personal assets or income if the sale proceeds don’t cover the full loan amount. This is where the non-recourse loan’s distinguishing feature comes into play.

For instance, in a non-recourse loan example, if you borrowed $500,000 to purchase a property and later defaulted when the balance was $400,000, but the property only sold for $350,000 at foreclosure, the lender would have to absorb the $50,000 shortfall and couldn’t chase you for it. Additionally, while the lender cannot pursue the difference, the forgiven amount might be considered non recourse loan taxable income.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Non-Recourse Loans?

Given the complexities of non-recourse loan requirements and the legal ramifications, consulting with a professional is always a wise decision. If you’re considering taking out a non-recourse loan or facing challenges related to one, a lawyer who handles cases dealing with mortgages can provide guidance. Through LegalMatch, you can easily connect with a qualified mortgage lawyer who can offer advice tailored to your situation.

Don’t handle the complexities of non-recourse loans alone. Let a professional guide you. Connect with a mortgage lawyer through LegalMatch today.


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