5 Reasons Owners Offer Seller Financing

Why would a seller allow a buyer to make payments over time for the purchase of property?

Wouldn’t the seller rather get paid now and require the buyer to obtain a bank loan?

Here are 5 reasons property owners offer seller financing:

1. Reduced Marketing Times

What is the first thing a real estate agent does when property is not moving and has been on the market for 60 to 90 days? They reduce the price and add the tagline “price reduced” to all advertising and signs. Rather than reduce the price, it might be beneficial for the seller to offer financing. Buyers provided with financing can certainly pay full price in exchange for the many benefits they receive with owner financing, including the money they save by not paying expensive loan fees, origination fees, and points.

2. Increased Inventory of Prospective Purchasers

By offering owner financing, the seller increases marketability with a wider group of available purchasers. Statistics show that almost 40 percent of the American population is unable to qualify for traditional bank financing. While not all of the “unqualified” group would be an acceptable risk for owner financing, it still widens the market of prospective buyers considerably. Anyone who has added the words “Owner Will Finance” or “Easy Terms” to a For Sale ad or Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing knows the phone will ring off the hook with interested prospects.

3. Reduced Closing Times

Another advantage of offering owner financing is substantially lower closing times. A closing involving a third-party conventional lender can take six to eight weeks while closing a seller-financed transaction through a reputable title company can take as little as two to three weeks. This is due to the reduced paperwork and less restrictive due diligence process.

4. Investment Strategy for Hard to Finance Properties

There are many properties that encounter financing difficulties including mixed use property, land, mobile and land, non-conforming, low value, and others. Investors realize excellent returns by paying a reduced cash or wholesale price on a hard-to-finance property and then reselling at a higher retail price with easy financing terms.

5. Interest Income

Why let the banks earn all the interest? Sellers can keep the property-earning income even after they sell by offering owner financing. For example, a $100,000 mortgage at 9 percent with monthly payments of $804.62 will pay back $289,663.20 over 30 years. That additional $189,663.20 (over the $100,000 mortgage) is power of interest income!

Work with Owner Financing Specialists

If considering seller financing, be sure to consult with a qualified professional to properly document the transaction.

It also helps to speak with note investors to gain insight on appealing terms and structuring techniques. This assures top-dollar pricing should you ever want to convert the payments to cash by assigning your note, mortgage, deed of trust, or contract to an investor.


Avoid Three Seller Financing Mistakes

Would you rather have $97,000 to sell your $100,000 note or only $80,000? The difference in usually comes down to the big three. Here’s the three biggest mistakes note sellers make and how to avoid flushing money down the drain.

Mistake #1 – Failing to Check Credit

The payer’s credit report lets you know how timely they have paid bills in the past. This is a good indicator of how they will pay on a seller-financed note. It also has a huge impact on how much an investor is willing to offer, should the seller ever decide to sell the note payments. Sadly, many sellers never check credit when offering owner financing.

The seller financing solution?

Have the buyer fill our a simple one page application that grants permission to pull their credit upfront or ask the buyer to pull their own credit and provide the report. Whenever possible, avoid accepting owner financing from any buyer with a credit score below 650 (above 700 is ideal).

Mistake #2 – Charging a Low Interest Rate

Money today is worth more than money tomorrow. A simple look at escalating food and gas costs will show a dollar today won’t buy as much next year or the year after! This concept, known as the time value of money, plays a large role in investor note pricing.

All factors being equal, an investor will pay more for a higher interest rate note. We’ve seen sellers charge 5% or less on notes. Imagine the discount when an investor wants a 10% yield!

The seller financing solution?

Charge at least two to four percent above the standard bank loan rate for a similar loan transaction. Be sure to take into consideration the credit, property type, and down payment, which may justify further increases in the interest rate.

Mistake #3 – Low or No Down Payment

The down payment determines how much equity the buyer has in the transaction. The greater the equity, the less likely a buyer will default. There is a reason banks require mortgage insurance whenever a buyer puts down less than 20%!

In desperation, some sellers will even accept a zero down payment. Unfortunately, these buyers have even less at stake than a renter. A renter at least has a security deposit along with the first and last months rent!

The seller financing solution?

Require a down payment of at least 10% to 20% at closing.

So these are the BIG three when it comes to valuing a seller financed note. Sure other things come into play (including property type, seasoning, terms, etc) but these are the three that impact pricing the most.

While a seller might not be able to find a buyer that meets the ideal in each category, they can attempt to compensate for any deficiencies. For example, a lower credit score might result in a higher down payment and interest rate. A great credit score might result in a more favorable interest rate.

Just remember that when the buyer receives a break, it’s coming out of your pocket as the seller!

Seller Financing – How Much Can The Buyer Afford?

Many sellers accept owner financing without any idea of how much the buyer can actually afford to pay.

The last thing a seller wants is to stress over receiving monthly payments or worse, getting the property back through foreclosure.

3 Ways to Calculate Payment Affordability Before Accepting Seller Financing

The amount a buyer can afford to spend on a house depends on their income, overall debt, cash they can put down, credit rating, and the mortgage terms.

There are three different calculations that are traditionally used by mortgage companies to determine how much house a buyer can afford. These are known as the Income Rule, the Debt Rule, and the Cash Rule. While owner financing does not require the strict use of these rules, it makes sense to utilize the standard as a guideline. (Better safe than really sorry, right?)

1. Income Rule

If you ask a real estate agent or lender for an estimate of how much house a buyer can afford, they’ll typically use a version of the Income rule. The Income Rule says that the monthly housing expense — which is the sum of the mortgage payment, property taxes, and homeowner insurance premium — cannot exceed a percentage of income.

This is often referred to as the front-end ratio and ranges from 27 percent to 30 percent for most lenders.

If the maximum percentage is 28 percent, for example, and the monthly income is $4,000, the monthly housing expense can’t exceed $1,120 (4,000 x .28 = 1,120). If taxes and insurance on the home are $200 per month, the maximum monthly mortgage payment is $920. At 7 percent interest for a 30-year loan, that payment will support a loan of $138,282. Assuming a 5 percent down payment, the maximum price of the home this buyer can afford would then be $145,561.

2. Debt Rule

The Debt Rule says that the total debt expense – which is the sum of the total mortgage payment plus monthly payments on existing debt like cars, credit cards, etc. – cannot exceed a percentage of income.

This is often referred to as the back-end ratio and ranges from 36 percent to 43 percent.

If this maximum is 36 percent, for example, and the monthly income is $4,000, the monthly payment can’t exceed $1,440 ($4,000 x .36 = 1,440). If taxes and insurance are $200 a month, and existing debt service is $240, the maximum mortgage payment the buyer can afford is $1,000. At 7 percent interest and a 30-year loan, this payment will support a loan of $150,308. Assuming a 5 percent down payment, the maximum price of the home would then be $158,218. (You’ll notice that’s significantly higher than what we calculated using the Income rule.)

3. Cash Rule

The Cash Rule says that the buyer must have cash sufficient to meet the down payment requirement plus other settlement costs.

If the buyer has $12,000 and the sum of the down payment requirement and other settlement costs are 10 percent of the sale price, then the maximum sale price using the cash rule is $120,000 (12,000 divided by .10 = 120,000).

Since this is the lowest of the three maximums in this example, it would be the affordability estimate that is safest to use for this scenario.

Putting It All Together for Seller Financing

How much house a buyer can afford is easy to overestimate if you ignore one of the three rules. Don’t make the same mistake as many of the mortgage lenders that ignored these standards in past years.

Granting loans to buyers that could not afford the payment played a large role in the current sub prime toxic mortgage mess that is currently in the headlines. There is no federal bailout program for sellers accepting owner financing.

Play it safe and be sure the buyer can afford the house payment before accepting payments over time.

Sell Property Fast With Owner Financing

When a property isn’t selling most real estate agents are quick to suggest a reduction to the sales price. It is common to see the tag line “Price Reduced” added to for sale signs, listings and ads.

Rather than just reducing price…

consider offering owner financing to sell a property quickly!

In today’s real estate market obtaining a mortgage can be a large stumbling block to home ownership. In the midst of this sub prime mortgage meltdown it is difficult to obtain a loan, especially for anyone with less than A+ credit and a 20% down payment.

While there are many reduced priced properties for sale few are offering a solution to the financing challenges. By offering owner financing the seller can reduce marketing time and maximize price while providing the buyer an economical alternative to bank loans.

The buyer makes a down payment and the seller accepts payments over time from the buyer. In essence the seller becomes the bank and is able to collect interest on the balance financed at the agreed upon rate.

Rather than collect payments for 20 to 30 years most sellers will prefer a balloon payment provision that requires the buyer to refinance and payoff the seller in 3 to 5 years. The seller also has the option of selling all or part of the payments to a note investor for cash now.

Back in the 1980’s the use of owner financing increased when interest rates were in the teens and borrowers had troubles qualifying based on the high monthly payments. Seller financing is now offering a similar solution to the financing challenges caused by the mortgage crisis.

Offering owner financing can be a very effective way to reduce marketing times, provided a property is priced at fair market value using comparable sales. Simply add the words “Owner Will Finance” to the advertising and watch the inquiries increase.

Safe Seller Financing Tips

It’s a tough time to sell a house.

Hoping to stand out from the crowd, sellers are advertising “Owner Will Finance!”

Accepting payments over time provides buyers an alternative to bank financing. Of course sellers don’t want to trade a house that won’t sell for a buyer that won’t pay.

Before you agree to “Be the Bank” read these 7 Tips For Safe Seller Financing!

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