Seller Financing

Although any loan used for buying real estate is strictly called a purchase money mortgage, the term is often employed for seller financing, those transactions in which you "take back" a mortgage as part of the purchase price. These arrangements are suitable, of course, only when you do not need your proceeds immediately toward the purchase of another home.

Taking back financing could make your property easier to sell during a difficult mortgage market. You might hold out for a higher sale price or interest rate, because your buyers will have fewer closing costs than usual. And sometimes your income tax situation, particularly with investment property, makes it advantageous to receive the proceeds over a period of years.

But seller financing is sometimes sought by buyers who cannot qualify for regular financing, and then the question arises: if a bank won't trust them with a loan, why should you?

A large down payment, of course, represents some safety. If you ever had to foreclose, the debt might be covered by the sale of the property. And asking for a large down payment serves to separate strong buyers from those who are weak financially – unless, of course, they're going out and borrowing the down payment elsewhere. In that case they could end up with unmanageable payments, which would put your loan in danger.

So you should insist on an analysis of the borrower's financial position, just as a bank would. Your lawyer, accountant or broker can obtain a credit report on prospective buyers. You'll be able to see how seriously they take paying their bills.

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Analyze the buyers' present debts and income to ensure that they're not getting in over their heads. Look for job stability ..

If you do go ahead, have your own lawyer draw up or at least review the mortgage or trust deed documents they will sign. And be sure the mortgage is promptly entered into your county's public records, to establish the priority of your lien, your financial claim, on the property.