Owner financing is a very common real estate purchase structure which has really come into the forefront of buying and selling in a buyers market. So I decided I would put together a quick overview of what owner financing is, since most buyers, sellers and even real estate professionals are usually unfamiliar with the term and the types of contracts involved. Remember structuring owners financing deals works for all types of real estate transactions big and small; home or commercial buildings.
Owner Financing Overview:
Owner financing is when all or part of the agreed upon purchase amount is held by the seller. I always tell people to look at it in the terms of a bank, the seller is holding the financing in the same way a bank would. The seller receives the monthly payments based on an agreed upon rate and term with a future balloon date for full pay off. This type of real estate transactions is very common in a buyer’s market like we are seeing now, and even more common now that lenders have tighten their underwriting guidelines and or have completely stopped lending. These sets of circumstances have created a smaller buyers pool, however the amount of property owners that still want and need to sell is still there. Seller financing can be a great way to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers.
Owner Financing Term Length:
The length of an owner financed property can differ between the time lines of both the buyer and seller. Almost all owners financed monthly payments, no matter if they are commercial purchasers or home purchases are amortized over 30 years. A typical contract balloon term is a minimum of two – three years, since 24 months is a key number for most lenders to see that you have been making on time payments on this property before lending on the buyers purchase/refinance of the owner financed contract. In addition it allows the buyer to clean up any credit or financial issues that are dragging them down from buying, if that is the buyer’s personal situations. But what is even more important in this market is that allowing the financial lending markets to stabilize and open back up. This has been the major factor for owner financing.
Down Payment or No Down Payment:
The subject on providing a down payment on the owner financing contract is always a sticky one. From the sellers stand point they usually want as much down payment as possible, why? Because, if the buyer has some “skin in the game” they are less likely to walk away from the property and contract. From the buyers stand point they always want to come in with as little a down payment as possible, thus limiting their risk.
This is one of the reasons I love owner financing. It allows sellers to charge a higher interest rates thus possibly receiving monthly cash flow from the property. If there is a mortgage on the property it is very normal depending on the type of real estate to charge an interest rate to the buyer that is higher then what is currently being charged by the bank. We have seen rates all over the board including interest only payments, staggered payments and payments that are equal to the current underlying mortgage payment from the bank. The key is to at least cover the current mortgage payment on the property if there is one.