Wednesday, June 11, 2014 / by Fra Jamir
When home prices in Charleston, SC are on the rise, one side effect is that first-time homebuyers may run into a financing obstacle. Although the stricter lending standards of the past few years have been easing somewhat, it still can be difficult for some folks (younger buyers, especially) to purchase the Charleston area home they have in their sights.
In that situation, an alternative to a traditional bank mortgage is seller financing. Many prospective buyers know little about the details that make up a seller financing agreement, and how it can–or cannot—help them secure a home.
What Seller Financing Is…
It’s as simple as the words themselves. When part or all of the purchase price of a property is carried by the current owner rather than a bank, it is considered to be “seller” or “owner” financed. Buyer and seller reach agreement on the loan details, including the monthly repayments, term of the loan, and interest rate. The security for the loan is the property itself—a fact which is documented on public records for the safety of both parties.
The Benefits of Seller Financing…
For the buyer, the principal benefit of seller financing is avoiding the requirements that are the hallmarks of traditional bank loans. Motivated sellers, who may be anticipating having trouble selling their home in a timely manner, be willing to advance a loan to buyers who do not traditionally qualify for a loan. Another benefit for the seller is having an investment which returns a fixed rate of return—one that is secured by the property. In the case that the buyer defaults on the loan the seller can foreclose on the property. With seller financing of a Charleston, SC property, the buyer will often compensate for a lower-than-bank-required credit score by agreeing to pay an above-market interest rate (another inducement for the seller).
Financing Part of the Purchase Price…
In some cases, the buyer may be able to secure a traditional loan for only part of the full purchase price. In that case, the buyer can ask the owner if they would be willing to finance the missing piece. Again, the buyer may sometimes offer an interest rate that is above current market rates as an inducement. It’s often possible for the buyer to plan on refinancing the ‘missing piece’ at a later time when the credit picture has improved, hoping to lower the combined interest rate.
These advantages are so clear, you might expect that Charleston seller financing arrangements would be very common. There are several reasons why that’s not true. First, owner financing can only be offered by sellers who own their property outright. Second, should a buyer fail to live up to his or her side of the agreement, foreclosing on the property can be a lengthy and expensive process—during which it’s likely that no money will be paid by the buyer in default.
In Charleston area, seller financing can be a deal-saving alternative for buyers who may not meet lending standards set by banks, but who can nonetheless afford to service a mortgage. Not all sellers will consider owner financing—but for those who are willing to support the added risk, it can meaningfully expand the pool of prospective buyers. Seller financing is just one of many possible strategies. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Charleston, SC, give me a call as soon as possible to take advantage of this summer’s market opportunities!
Interested in selling your Charleston area home? Visit: www.jeffcookrealestate.com
Interested in buying a Charleston area home? Visit: www.discovercharlestonareahomes.com
Jeff Cook Real Estate