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.

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!

Inflation & Recessions: Success Using Owner Financing

Inflation & Recessions: Success Using Owner Financing

housing recessionThere’s a lot of talk about what’s going to happen if inflation starts to show up in our economy.

With Owner Financing I have found you will not be affected negatively.

The question is, “What is the market?”

The CASH MARKET and OWNER FINANCE MARKET are two completely different markets.

When the recession of 2008 hit I was able to take advantage of both markets. I took back 35% of my owner financed homes. I was able to recapture any appreciation that had happened from the time I bought the house until the time they moved out…some had paid for up to 6 years and then simply disappeared.

When the recession hit, the prices of houses in San Antonio dropped about 15% to 20% in the nice areas and about 10% to 15% in the lesser parts of town, where fewer buyers could qualify for a loan. Then they raised the credit score bar from 580 to 650 to qualify for a long-term government backed loan. Now, NOBODY in the LESSER PARTS OF TOWN could qualify for a loan and the prices dropped 30%.

House prices dropped back to the times I was writing about in my book MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES (I was writing about my real estate dealing between 1996 – 2008).

Here’s the BIG weird dynamic…

  • What happens to rents when no one can qualify for a loan to buy?
  • When people can’t buy, what happens to rents?
  • Do rents go down? …or do rents go up?

Rents go up!

The Owner Financed Value

Suddenly, in the recession, I was buying houses for what I used to pay for them 12 years ago. I was buying with other people’s money (OPM) and then owner financing those houses to renters who wanted to own. I based my sales price on the rents. If a person can pay $850 for rent, then I’d back into my sales price based on that monthly rental payment. The goal was to sell this renter a home for the same monthly payment they were paying for rent.

For the full effect of this example, know that I acquired the property and am “all in” for $35,000.

So, I want to sell my property and I want to establish a viable Owner Financed Value… I establish that the rents in the area for this particular type of house are $850.

$850 rent
– $100 property taxes
– $  50 for Insurance
=$700 left over for Principle + Interest

It’s easy to establish very accurate rent numbers online. You can do it in minutes while sitting in front of a house if you have a smart phone or if you have a laptop with a link to the internet. Use RentoMeter.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com for starters.

$700 payment means the buyer can afford to finance $70,000
(If you use the terms 10.5% for 20 years)
The exact amortization payment is $710.66….close enough!

So if the buyer can afford to FINANCE $70,000, what is the sales price?
Add 10% as a general rule.
$77,000 is the sales price!

So if the goal is to move a person from renting at $850 to buying at $850…
What happens to my sales prices if rents are going up?

That’s right…during the recession my owner financed houses were appreciating as far as I was concerned.

It was the perfect storm; Prices on little houses were falling because no one could get a loan. I was buying those houses with Private Money (Money from Private Lenders) at rock bottom cash prices. But the OWNER FINANCED VALUE of the houses was rising like a rocket because the rental pool was flooded with demand! My spread was getting bigger at both ends; I was buying for less and selling for more.

To top things off, I was getting much better buyers than I had ever seen, and the buyers were better payers and had more down payment than I was use to getting.

REMEMBER: Back then we DID NOT have to get an appraisal to sell a property with owner financing – period! Today, as long as the buyer is a qualified buyer; meaning the buy has enough income to make the payment – Qualified Mortgage (QM). As long as it’s a QM we don’t need an appraisal.

I hate being a landlord so much; I think I’m going to stick to my owner financed model through the upcoming turmoil. I’m thinking, I won’t get rich but I won’t go under either.

My losses to inflation will be offset by the houses I get back and by my ability to double my money when I buy in the down times. Also Rents will go up to the market value and people will still WANT to buy homes even more.

rent or buy owner financing

To believe in this model you have to believe at least 2 things;

#1. People would rather own a home if it costs the same as rent.

#2. There is a line of renters waiting to buy your home if the current payer fails.

And perhaps there is a 3rd thing you need to believe in….

#3. Wealth comes from chaos

About The Author: Mitch Stephen has sold over 1400 homes and is the author of “My Life & 1,000 Houses, Failing Forward to Financial Freedom”. He uses the technique of “Owner Financing” to create cash flow without the hassles of landlording.

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.

 

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.

Seller Financed Notes and Interest Rates

The interest rate a seller agrees to accept when providing owner financing to the buyer has a large impact on the note’s value. Unfortunately, many sellers overlook this important decision.

Why Private Mortgage Note Interest Rates Matter

Inflation Fighter

Each year it seems the cost to buy the basics just keeps going up. It’s not your imagination; it’s inflation.

In fact in July 2008 that inflation rate was 5.6 percent higher than in July 2007 (based on the Consumer Price Index reported by the U.S. Department of Labor on August 14, 2008). Worse yet, some basic items like energy increased 29.3% over that same time frame.

So what does inflation have to do with seller-financed notes? Well a seller would need to at least charge an interest rate equivalent to the inflation rate just to break even!

Return on Investment

Rather than just breaking even, a seller desires a return on their investment. By accepting an IOU or payments from the buyer that money is tied up. Plus, once the property is sold the new owner will be the one to directly benefit from any increase in property value.

The seller is now acting as the bank and should expect a return at least equivalent to the interest rate a bank is charging for a similar loan. The seller does not have the protection of private mortgage insurance that many banks require adding another level of risk that should be rewarded by an increased rate.

Since the buyer is saving the costs a traditional bank might charge for a loan (points, underwriting fees, origination fees, etc.) it is reasonable to expect them to pay an interest rate above what a bank would charge. On average, it is recommended that a seller financed note carry an interest rate of 2-4% higher than bank rates to compensate for these matters.

Improves Resale Value to Note Buyers

If a note holder ever desires to sell their future note payments for a lump sum of cash, they will quickly realize how important the note interest rate is to investors.

While investors look to a variety of factors to determine their pricing, all things being equal, a higher interest rate results in a higher purchase price from a note investor.

For example, a seller holds a note with a balance of $100,000 with monthly payments of $1,110.21. If the note rate is 6% and the investor wants a 9% yield then the offer would be $87,641. Now if the note rate were 4% the offer would decrease to $81,623, but if the note rate were 8% the offer would increase to $95,274.

For simplicity of comparison, these examples assume the monthly payment amount remains the same and there are acceptable credit, equity, and documentation. But you get the idea, the higher the interest rate the more valuable the note.

There Are No Take-Backs!

The time to give serious consideration to the note interest rate is at the time of creation. There are no take-backs or do-overs. The rate you agree to accept at closing stays the interest rate for the life of the note. The only way to change it later is to get the buyer to agree and execute a formal note modification. It’s highly unlikely a buyer or note payer is going to agree to have their interest rate increased at a later date (unless there is some advantage to them).

Be sure to give the amount of interest charged on a seller financed note serious thought. It will affect the value of your note not only today, but also far into the future.