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Promissory Note

Promissory Note

What Is a Promissory Note?

A promissory note is a debt instrument that contains a written commitment by one party (the note's issuer or maker) to pay another party (the note's payee) a distinct sum of money, either on-demand or at a predefined future date. A promissory note commonly contains every one of the terms relating to the indebtedness, for example, the principal amount, interest rate, maturity date, date and place of issuance, and issuer's signature.

Albeit financial institutions might issue them โ€” for example, you may be required to sign a promissory note to take out a small personal loan โ€” promissory notes normally allow companies and individuals to get financing from a source other than a bank. This source can be an individual or a company able to carry the note (and give the financing) under the agreed-upon terms. In effect, promissory notes can enable anyone to be a lender.

How Promissory Notes Work

Promissory notes, as well as bills of exchange, are administered by the 1930 Geneva Convention of Uniform Law on Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes. Its rules additionally stipulate that the term "promissory note" ought to be embedded in the body of the instrument and ought to contain an unconditional guarantee to pay.

In terms of their legal enforceability, promissory notes lie somewhere close to the informality of a IOU and the unbending nature of a loan contract. A promissory note incorporates a specific guarantee to pay, and the means required to do as such (like the repayment schedule), while an IOU simply recognizes that a debt exists, and the amount one party owes another.

A loan contract, then again, as a rule states the lender's right to recourse โ€”, for example, foreclosure โ€” in the event of default by the borrower; such provisions are generally missing in a promissory note. While the paper could make note of the outcomes of non-payment or untimely payments (like late fees), it doesn't for the most part make sense of methods of recourse on the off chance that the issuer doesn't pay on time.

Promissory notes that are unconditional and saleable become negotiable instruments that are widely utilized in business transactions in various countries.

Student Loan Promissory Notes

Many individuals sign their most memorable promissory notes as part of the method involved with getting a student loan. Private lenders regularly expect students to sign promissory notes for each separate loan that they take out. A few schools, notwithstanding, allow federal student loan borrowers to sign a one-time, master promissory note. From that point forward, the student borrower can receive different federal student loans as long as the school ensures the student's proceeded with qualification.

Student loan promissory notes frame the rights and obligations of student borrowers as well as the conditions and terms of the loan. By signing a master promissory note for federal student loans, for example, the student vows to repay the loan amounts plus interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. The master promissory note likewise incorporates the student's personal contact and employment information as well as the names and contact data for the student's personal references.

A Brief History of Promissory Notes

Promissory notes have had an interesting history. On occasion, they have circulated as a form of alternate currency, free of government control. In certain places, the official currency is as a matter of fact a form of promissory note called a demand note (one with no stated maturity date or fixed-term, allowing the lender to choose when to demand payment).

In the United States, nonetheless, promissory notes are generally issued exclusively to corporate clients and sophisticated investors. As of late, nonetheless, promissory notes have likewise been additionally seeing expanding use with regards to selling homes and securing mortgages.

A promissory note is typically held by the party owed money; when the debt has been completely discharged, it must be canceled by the payee and returned to the issuer.

Mortgages versus Promissory Notes

Homeowners normally think of their mortgage as an obligation to repay the money they borrowed to buy their residence. However, it's a promissory note they likewise sign, as part of the financing system, that addresses that guarantee to pay back the loan, along with the repayment terms. The promissory note stipulates the size of the debt, its interest rate, and late fees. In this case, the lender holds the promissory note until the mortgage loan is paid off. Dissimilar to the deed of trust or mortgage itself, the promissory note isn't placed into district land records.

The promissory note can likewise be a manner by which individuals who don't meet all requirements for a mortgage can purchase a home. The mechanics of the deal, ordinarily called a take-back mortgage, are very simple: The seller keeps on holding the mortgage (taking it back) on the residence, and the buyer signs a promissory note saying that they will pay the price of the house plus an agreed-upon interest rate in customary portions. The payments from the promissory note frequently bring about positive month to month cash flow for the seller.

Typically, the buyer will make a large down payment to support the seller's confidence in the buyer's ability to make future payments. In spite of the fact that it changes by situation and state, the deed of the house is many times utilized as a form of collateral and it returns to the seller in the event that the buyer can't make the payments. There are cases in which an outsider acts as the creditor in a take-back mortgage rather than the seller, yet this can make matters more complex and prone to legal issues on account of default.

The Tax Perspective

According to the point of view of the homeowner who needs to sell, the sythesis of the promissory note is very important. It is better, according to a tax point of view, to get a higher sales price for your home and charge the buyer a lower interest rate. Along these lines, the capital gains will be tax-free on the sale of the home, however the interest on the note will be taxed.

On the other hand, a low sales price and an exorbitant interest rate are better for the buyer since they will actually want to discount the interest and, after reliably paying the seller for a year or somewhere in the vicinity, refinance at a lower interest rate through a traditional mortgage from a bank. Amusingly, since the buyer has developed equity in the house, they presumably will not have an issue getting financing from the bank to buy it.

Types of Promissory Notes

Corporate Credit Promissory Notes

Promissory notes are regularly utilized in business for the purpose of short-term financing. For instance, when a company has sold numerous products however has not yet collected payments for them, it might turn out to be low on cash and unable to pay creditors. In this case, it might ask them to acknowledge a promissory note that can be exchanged for cash at a future time after it gathers its accounts receivables. On the other hand, it might ask the bank for the cash in exchange for a promissory note to be paid back from here on out.

Promissory notes likewise offer a credit source for companies that have exhausted different options, as corporate loans or bond issues. A note issued by a company in this situation is at a higher risk of default than, say, a corporate bond. This likewise means the interest rate on a corporate promissory note is probably going to give a greater return than a bond from a similar company โ€” high-risk means higher expected returns.

These notes generally must be registered with the government in the state where they are sold and additionally with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Regulators will audit the note to conclude whether the company is capable of meeting its commitments. In the event that the note isn't registered, the investor needs to do their own analysis with regards to whether the company is capable of servicing the debt. In this case, the investor's legal roads might be to some degree limited on account of default. Companies in desperate straits might hire high-commission brokers to push unregistered notes on the public.

Investment Promissory Notes

Investing in promissory notes, even on account of a take-back mortgage, implies risk. To assist with limiting these risks, an investor needs to register the note or have it authenticated so the obligation is both publicly recorded and legal. Likewise, on account of the take-back mortgage, the purchaser of the note might even venture to such an extreme as to take out an insurance policy on the issuer's life. This is completely acceptable since, supposing that the issuer passes on, the holder of the note will assume ownership of the house and related expenses that they may not be prepared to handle.
These notes are simply offered to corporate or sophisticated investors who can handle the risks and have the money expected to buy the note (notes can be issued for as large a sum as the buyer will carry). After an investor has agreed to the conditions of a promissory note, they can sell it (or even the individual payments from it), to yet another investor, similar as a security.

Notes sell for a discount from their face value in view of the effects of inflation eating into the value of future payments. Different investors can likewise do a partial purchase of the note, buying the rights to a certain number of payments โ€” indeed, at a discount to the true value of every payment. This allows the note holder to collect a lump sum of money rapidly, as opposed to waiting for payments to accumulate.

Investing in Promissory Notes

By bypassing banks and traditional lenders, investors in promissory notes are facing the risk challenges the banking industry without having the organizational size to limit that risk by spreading it out more than great many loans. This risk translates into larger returns โ€” given that the payee doesn't default on the note.

In the corporate world, such notes are rarely sold to the public. At the point when they are, it is ordinarily at the command of a striving company working through corrupt brokers who will sell promissory notes that the company will be unable to respect.

On account of take-back mortgages, promissory notes have turned into a valuable device to complete sales that would somehow be held up by a lack of financing. This can be a mutually advantageous arrangement for both the seller and buyer, as long as the two players completely comprehend what they are getting into.

In the event that you are hoping to perform a take-back mortgage purchase or sale, you ought to sit down to chat with a legal professional and visit the notary office before you sign anything.


  • A promissory note is a financial instrument that contains a written commitment by one party (the note's issuer or maker) to pay another party (the note's payee) an unequivocal sum of money, either on demand or at a predetermined future date.
  • A promissory note commonly contains every one of the terms relating to the indebtedness, for example, the principal amount, interest rate, maturity date, date and place of issuance, and issuer's signature.
  • In terms of their legal enforceability, promissory notes lie somewhere close to the informality of an IOU and the unbending nature of a loan contract.


What Are the Pros and Cons of a Promissory Note?

A promissory note can be invaluable when an entity is unable to track down a loan from a traditional lender, like a bank. Be that as it may, promissory notes can be a lot riskier on the grounds that the lender doesn't have the means and scale of resources found inside financial institutions. Simultaneously, legal issues could emerge for both the issuer and payee in the event of default. Along these lines, getting a promissory note authorized can be important.

What Is an Example of a Promissory Note?

One illustration of a promissory note is a corporate credit promissory note. For this type of promissory note, a company will be normally seeking a short-term loan. On account of a developing startup that is low on cash as it grows its operations, terms of the agreement could follow that the company pays back the loan once its accounts receivable are collected.There are a number of other various types of promissory notes including investment promissory notes, take-back mortgages, and student loan promissory notes.

What Does a Promissory Note Contain?

A form of debt instrument, a promissory note addresses a written commitment with respect to the issuer to pay back another party. A promissory note will incorporate the agreed-upon terms between the two parties, for example, the maturity date, principal, interest, and issuer's signature. Basically, a promissory note allows elements beside financial institutions the ability to give lending components to different substances.