Is Holding A Mortgage A Good Way To Make Money?

You’ve worked hard to pay off your home but the time has come to sell. Whether you are upgrading, downsizing, or moving to a new state — you are in the financial position to “act as the bank” for the new buyers. Offering to hold a mortgage, also known as seller or owner financing, is one way for homeowners to diversify their streams of income.

Is holding a mortgage a good way to make money though? Keep reading to find out!

How Does Owner Financing Work?

The buyer makes an agreed upon down payment and pays monthly loan payments directly to the seller instead of a bank. The financing arrangement usually includes a promissory note regarding the repayment and terms of the loan.

The note includes information such as interest rate, loan period, balloon payments due, and prepayment rules. Penalties, fees for late payments, and default procedures are also usually included in the financing agreement.

A mortgage is also generally written securing the property as collateral for the loan. It may be a requirement to record the mortgage with the local public records office.

It is strongly suggested to have a real estate attorney or other qualified professional complete the necessary paperwork for the financing. They can also review any agreements or contracts you or your real estate agent have generated during the selling process.

Taking precautions at the beginning of the sale is critical to ensuring everything is done properly. It may save you a tremendous amount of time, money, and aggravation should problems arise with the property or loan repayment over the years.

Benefits for Sellers

One of the biggest benefits from owner financing is the monthly income it provides to the seller. Sellers usually accept a down payment at the time of purchase and then receive monthly checks from the buyer that include a principal and interest payment.

For owners not needing a large lump sum of money when they sell their paid off homes, this adds a source of income with an interest rate that may be higher than some of their other financial investments.

Sellers determine the terms of the loan including interest rate and payment terms.

They often require a balloon payment of the entire outstanding loan balance after five or ten years. This allows sellers to collect payments for a number of years but still receive the balance of their money in a much shorter time frame than a traditional 30-year mortgage.

Offering owner financing may attract more buyers to your property and allow you to close the deal more quickly.

If buyer’s don’t have to navigate the mortgage process with a bank, the sale of your house may happen in just a few weeks to a month. In some states, closing can take up to two months or more when mortgages are involved.

A seller may also be able to sell their property at a higher price while avoiding certain repairs that would be required by lenders who won’t issue a mortgage without them being completed.

While the buyer may push back and cancel the deal without some repairs being completed or at least the cost of them being negotiated, the seller ultimately gets to decide about selling “as-is” or refusing the offer.

The ability to foreclose on the property allows the seller to take the property back over if the buyer defaults on payments or walks away from the property. The owner also gets to keep the down payment and any payments made on the property prior to the foreclosure.

Benefits for Buyers

Owners who are willing to hold a mortgage may also have more lenient qualifications than banks or other lenders. This can speed the process and allow buyers to purchase a home they may not otherwise be able to buy.

The down payment may also be less than what is required by a traditional lender. This can help a buyer who doesn’t have as much saved but still wants to buy a house. Buyers may also avoid paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) required by many banks if a 20% down payment isn’t made.

If the owner really wants a fast sale, buyers may be able to negotiate decent interest rates. They may not be as low as a bank offers but seller financing deals often have much lower closing costs for buyers too. If the interest rates aren’t great, buyers may get better rates if they refinance when they qualify for a loan or at the time of the balloon payment.

For buyers who need small mortgages that many banks are not very interested in extending, owner financed purchases help save time and money over searching for a lender.

Drawbacks for Sellers

The biggest concern most sellers have is that buyers will stop making payments and not take care of the property. The seller then has to go through legal proceedings to foreclose on the property. If the buyer can’t pay what is owed, the seller becomes the owner again.

If this happens a few years into the loan, sellers may have thousands of dollars of profit. But the amount of damage could be significant due to years of neglect too.

If a buyer walks away early on, there may be fewer problems. But less money has been paid to cover legal costs and make repairs over this time too. This is why it’s important to get a down payment large enough to cover some major costs.

Another problem for sellers is they tie up a large sum of money that could be used or invested in other ways for a long period of time. Lending practices have also affected some sellers ability to hold mortgages in the last decade.

The financial crisis of 2007–2008 led to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. This legislation was put in place to try to help protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

It would likely not impact a seller who is holding a mortgage for one property but if you plan to offer seller financing, you should discuss this with your attorney and real estate agent.

Drawbacks for Buyers

Buyers also have to think about how they will pay off the balloon payment if one is part of the terms of the financing agreement.

Buyers will either have to come up with the funds or be in the position to be approved for a mortgage. They can’t assume the seller will re-negotiate a new loan with them, even if they have been prompt with payments over the years.

Ways For Seller’s To Protect Themselves

Even if you are selling to family, friends, or someone with stellar credit and a long work history — this is not a time to “DIY” legal documents and hope for the best.

You should also consider getting an appraisal of your house done so you understand the market value. This will help you negotiate purchase offers and determine what is an acceptable amount for a down payment.

Talk with your attorney or real estate agent about using a loan application, completing a credit check, and verifying the employment history and assets of potential buyers. It is also important to check references as part of the application process.

Is Holding a Mortgage a Good Way To Make Money?

Financing the sale of your house and creating a win-win solution for you and the buyer may help you get a competitive price for your home and allow you to earn extra money by collecting interest as part of the loan.

As the seller, if you put in the work and money up front to get the professional help you need, it is possible to find a qualified buyer and make money from seller financing.

There are no guarantees the buyer will follow through, make payments and keep the property up though — so there is risk involved. But many owners feel the money they can make is worth the risk. As with any investment, only you can decide if holding a mortgage is right for you.

Originally published at on September 12, 2018.

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