Seller-assisted financing’ makes a comeback


Seller-assisted financing’ makes a comeback

NEW YORK – July 28, 2014 – As home sales slow in some markets, more sellers may consider hooking potential buyers by offering to lower their mortgage rate. Mortgage assistance can help offset rising prices and the much-predicted looming rise in mortgage rates.

Some real estate professionals have begun touting "seller-assisted, below-market-rate financing" on for-sale signs outside of listed homes. They're also offering interest rate buy-downs, a marketing technique most commonly used in new-home sales by homebuilders.

Some sellers are offering to lower buyers' long-term monthly mortgage expense – for the life of the loan – by paying money upfront to the buyers' lender to reduce the interest rate. For example, the seller may pay two to three points on the loan; a point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount. This would reduce the buyers' interest rate by about one of half of a percentage point. When sellers pay points, they're paying interest on the loan in advance.

From 2006 to 2009, mortgage rate buy-downs on resales were common, says David H. Stevens, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Oray Nicolai, a senior mortgage banker with Access National Mortgage, assists real estate professionals in structuring and presenting rate buy-downs to sellers and purchasers. Nicolai says that, in some cases, rate buy-downs can help make up for a low offer.

For example, Nicolai says in one incident buyers made an offer $50,000 less than the seller was willing to accept so the sellers bought down the rate by half a percentage point from 4.25 percent to 3.75 percent for a fixed, 30-year mortgage. The sellers were then able to get the price they needed to sell, while the buyers ended up with the same monthly principal and interest payment that they needed. The sellers' buy-down cost them $13,600, allowing them to net about $36,000 more than they would have if they had accepted the buyers' initial lower offer.

While rate buy-downs aren't always the best move for sellers, housing experts say it's one option that real estate professionals, sellers and buyers may want to explore in the interest of saving a deal.

Source: "Mortgage Buy-Downs Can Spur Home Sales," Los Angeles Times (July 27, 2014)

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