In 2011, banks can still finance up to 10 properties (they count 1st and 2nds as one loan in most cases - thank goodness). If it's for a primary residence, there's really no limit to how many mortgages you can have - so long as your normal debt to equity & income ratios, credit, income, assets, etc. still pan out.
One can also use existing assets (notes, equipment, A/R's, home equity or even your stock portfolio) as collateral for other loans - typically at a 50% collateralization rate (that is, banks may take your $100K stock portfolio and be willing to lend you $50K, for example).
No assets to pledge? You'll still need 2 year's worth of W2's and verifiable income (pull out the tax returns) to qualify. And good credit is pretty much a must too in this market. If you want good rates.
Converting a hard money loan into a conventional loan is do-able. BUT, the standards for a refi are just as strict as they are for a new purchase. Keep that in mind. And, typically, you can't pull your money out of the property for at least 6 months on the refi. Gotta wait it out for 6. Dumb rule, I know.
The hard money guys? Make sure they approve the property first. They'll charge a $900 setup fee, 18% interest only, and they'll want 25% as a down payment, no prepayment penalty, but they do require a minimum of 30 days servicing. Make sure you plan your escape before you enter.