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What Is a Vendor Note?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 August 2014
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Also known as a seller note, a vendor note is form of financing that a vendor will sometimes extend to a buyer. With this arrangement, the vendor accepts the order from the buyer and, instead of requiring immediate payment, extends a type of in-house financing to the customer. Typically, a vendor note is secured in some manner, either with the goods purchased or some other asset that the client is willing to pledge as collateral for the note.

The structure of a vendor note may vary, depending on the type of lending terms that the seller is willing to extend to the buyer. In some cases, the arrangement will call for assessing a rate of interest on the outstanding balance, often with an annual compounding of that interest. When this is the case, the buyer may agree to remit a series of regularly scheduled payments to retire the debt over time, with the frequency ranging from monthly to quarterly or semi-annually. There are usually provisions that govern the early payoff of the note, specifically in relation to any type of penalties or fees for early settlement.

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In terms of duration, a vendor note is usually a long-term financing approach, with some notes structured to allow as much as five years to settle the outstanding debt. This makes the arrangement viable for start-up businesses that may have solid backing and owners with impeccable reputations in the industry, but not much in the way of working capital. Under the best of circumstances, the resources acquired with the aid of a vendor note allow the business to begin generating revenue early on, and becoming profitable well before the note is due for settlement.

Sellers who choose to provide vendor note financing for clients typically require some sort of background and credit check before approving that financing. This is because vendors who use this method take on a great deal of risk, especially if the buyer happens to be a new business enterprise with no real history or credit firmly established. Typically, the rate of interest will be competitive with other financing options and will reflect the vendor’s assessment of just how much risk is being assumed. Vendors also tend to take into consideration the type of collateral that is pledged as security, including the possible resale value of that collateral in the event that the buyer should default before the vendor note is settled in full.

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