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.

Learn the Value of Your Mortgage Note

Wondering just how much your mortgage note is worth?

The value of a note or contract is affected by many factors including the:

  • Down Payment
  • Terms of the Note
  • Buyer’s Credit Rating and Payment History
  • Type of Property Sold and Its Current Value

Since each transaction is unique, we offer a free note analysis based on your individual situation. more “Learn the Value of Your Mortgage Note”

How to Sell Your Mortgage Note

Want freedom from collecting payments for the next 10, 20, or even 30 years?

Prefer a lump sum of cash today?

If you sold property with seller financing chances are you’ve wondered about selling the real estate note. Here’s how to sell a mortgage note, trust deed, or contract in 7 easy steps.

more “How to Sell Your Mortgage Note”

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.

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!