What is Seller Financing?

When a seller allows a buyer to make payments over time for the purchase of property, it is known as owner financing or seller financing. This private financing by the seller can take the place of a bank loan or be in addition to a conventional mortgage.

The payment amount, interest rate, and other terms are agreed upon between the buyer and seller. The amount financed by the seller will depend upon the buyer’s down payment and whether there are any bank loans.

Here’s an example of how it works.

An owner advertises his or her house for sale, either on her own or through an agent.

A buyer makes an offer, and they agree upon a sales price of $175,000 with a 10 percent down payment of $17,500.

Rather than requiring the buyer to obtain a bank loan, the seller carries back the balance of $157,500 in the form of a note and mortgage. It could also be a note and deed of trust or a real estate contract, depending on the customary documents for that state. A title company or real estate attorney is often used for the closing.

The note spells out the terms of repayment. In this case they agree upon 8.5 percent interest at $1,211.04 per month based on a 360-month amortization. The seller doesn’t really want to wait a full 30 years for payments, so the note requires payment in full, known as a balloon payment, within seven years.

Because the buyer is making payments to the seller rather than an institutional lender, the legal arrangement is called a private mortgage, seller carry-back, installment sale, or owner financing.

The seller has the same mortgage rights as a bank, so if the buyer does not make payments, the seller can foreclose and take the property back.

When the seller prefers cash today rather than payments over time, the rights to future payments can be sold or assigned to a note investor on the secondary market.

Protect Your Mortgage Note

A buyer failing to make payments on the mortgage note isn’t your only worry.

Understandably, a buyer that stops making payments is a major concern when using owner financing. After all, a seller-financed note is a very valuable asset.

Unfortunately many sellers fail to protect their asset when it comes to another area…verifying current property insurance and taxes.

more “Protect Your Mortgage Note”

Payment Histories Increase Note Values

Want top dollar when selling mortgage notes?

Increase the value with payment histories!

Keeping an accurate record of the payments received on a mortgage note is essential for knowing how much the buyer still owes.  This also establishes a record of their payment habits – with an added benefit.

The value of a note can be improved by presenting note buyers a verifiable payment history!

There are two main ways to keep track of payments on seller-financed mortgage notes: 1) outside serviced, or 2) seller direct.

Professional Mortgage Note Servicing

The first and easiest is to let a professional handle it. The payments are made to a third party servicing agent that keeps track of the balance and sends the money along to the seller. They will also send out the annual 1098 Mortgage Interest Statements and can hold original documents in safe keeping.

The DIY Approach to Collecting Payments

If a seller chooses the “Do-It-Yourself”’ method over a third party pro they will need to follow these steps:

1. Place original note and other original documents in a safe deposit box.

2. Make a copy of each check or money ordered received. Accepting cash is not recommended since it is hard to verify the payment history without a paper trail.

3. Deposit the payment and keep a copy of the bank record of deposit.  It is best to deposit each payment separately rather than combining with other checks.

4. Create a ledger or spreadsheet reflecting the date and amount of payments received.

5. Calculate the amount applied to interest, principal, late fees (if any), and the resulting principal balance. An amortization schedule or financial calculator can be helpful. Once calculated, record in the ledger.

6. Send out an annual statement to the buyer or payer along with the IRS1098 Mortgage Interest Statement.

7. Verify the real estate taxes and property insurance are being kept current. Consider establishing a tax and insurance escrow where the buyer pays 1/12th of the annual amount into a reserve account each month.

8. Send collection letters as necessary for late payments, lapsed insurance, or delinquent real estate taxes.

Why Note Buyers Want Payment Histories

When an investor agrees to purchase a note they will request a payment history. A verifiable payment history can improve the value of a note as it provides proof of timely payments. A payment history is considered verified when it is either provided by a third party or is backed up by the documents and records outlined above.

Unfortunately many sellers fail to keep track of the payments received. When they go to sell the note, contract, or trust deed they try to recreate the history from memory. Without any proof of payments received, a note buyer has to go on faith. Sometimes a payment history affidavit can substitute for a payment record but it still doesn’t add the value of verifiable proof.

Protect the value of your mortgage note! Set up a payment tracking method today.

Safekeeping the Original Mortgage Note

Can you easily locate the original mortgage note?

This important legal document should be kept in a safe place, and here is why!

The promissory note is a promise to pay or IOU from the property buyer. It spells out the amount due and terms of repayment. In legal jargon it is known as a negotiable instrument. Similar to a check, the original must be presented to collect or prove ownership.

If the seller desires to sell and assign the payments to a note buyer, the investor will ask for the original note to be provided at closing. The promissory note is then endorsed over to the investor. Similar to endorsing a check, the holder signs on the back of the note.

Sample Note Endorsement on Back of Original Mortgage Note

Pay to the order of, (Insert name of investor), without recourse.

 

Dated this ____ day of _______, 2011.

(Seller Signs and Dates)

Sometimes the note endorsement is executed on a separate piece of paper, also called an allonge. The allonge is then attached as a permanent rider to the original note. The endorsement enables the investor to prove they are a holder in due course, with the same rights of repayment as the original note holder.

An investor may also ask for the original recorded mortgage or deed of trust at closing. However, if this original is lost, an investor will usually accept a certified copy from the county recorder’s office.

A lost original note, on the other hand, can cause a problem. In most states the note is not recorded. If the original note becomes lost a note investor may ask for a duplicate or replacement note to be signed by the payer or maker. This means going back to the person that owes you money and asking them to resign. This relies on their cooperation and can cause delays.

The investor will also ask for a lost note affidavit from the seller or note holder, stating the note has been lost and it will be presented if found at a later date.

Some investors will consider accepting just the lost note affidavit with a copy of the original note.  However, this is increasingly rare as a lost original note can create problems foreclosing should the buyer stop making payments.

The best option is to avoid losing the note by keeping it in a safe deposit box or a fire and waterproof safe. Some sellers elect to have the original held by their attorney or a third party servicing agent for safekeeping.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to keep the original mortgage note in a safe place that is easily located!