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Homeowner Financing Explained

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Are you thinking of using owner financing to purchase a property? There are many reasons you would; however, you should be aware of plenty of factors before committing.

All types of home loans come with legalities and requirements. In this Property Talk blog, we look at the factors that can affect a homebuyer choosing owner financing, including knowing when to use a promissory note to the many terms related to owner financing.

Owner Financing

Let’s commence with a layperson’s explanation of the term: owner financing.

What Is Owner Financing?

When sellers talk about owner financing, they’re referring to a process in which you can purchase a property without needing a conventional mortgage. When you buy a home through owner financing, the seller will finance the purchase with installments you’ll have to pay until you clear the debt.

When Is Owner Financing a Good Idea?

Owner financing is a good idea when you cannot secure a mortgage. For example, you may consider owner financing if your credit score doesn’t permit you to get a mortgage. Owner financing can make the purchase easier if you want to purchase commercial properties, apartments, or land.

Does Owner Financing Require Legal Documents and Paperwork?

Yes, owner financing requires legal documents and paperwork. Legal documents and paperwork are crucial for safeguarding the seller and yourself when completing the transaction. One of the legal documents you will require is a promissory note.

Another legal document you’re going to need is the deed in trust. This document ensures that if you default on any payments, the seller has a lien on the property (which is the right for the seller to retain possession of the property until you pay the debt you owe).

Are There Different Types of Promissory Notes?

There are a couple of different promissory notes you may want to learn about. The main types are secured and unsecured promissory notes. Let’s consider these two examples now.

What is a secured promissory note?

A secured promissory note is a legal document that your seller may use to establish collateral for the selling property. For example, if you don’t make your repayments on time, the lender will be legally within their rights to reclaim the property they’re selling as collateral.

What is an unsecured promissory note?

An unsecured promissory note is a legal document that your seller may use if no collateral is required when they sell the property. In this case, if you don’t make timely repayments. The seller has the right to go through a small claims court to claim the money you owe them.

What Are the Different Types of Owner Financing?

Not all owner-financing contracts are the same. The most common types include

  • Land contracts
  • Lease-purchase agreements
  • Wraparound mortgages

Land Contracts

Owner financing with a land contract is an arrangement where you’ll pay installments to a land seller. Equitable titles are key for land contracts, which your seller will transfer to you when you fulfill the contract.

Lease-purchase Agreements

Owner financing with a lease-purchase agreement is an arrangement where you’ll make payments to the seller until you can get a mortgage on the amount remaining. You can think of lease-purchase agreements similar to rent-to-buy arrangements under which you’ll receive a full equitable title after paying the remaining balance.


Wraparound Mortgages

Owner financing with wraparound mortgages enables the seller to maintain an initial mortgage you must repay. The wraparound mortgage will equal the unpaid mortgage amount, and the lender expects you to pay extra funds.

Steps To Follow When Arranging Owner Financing?

The process you can follow when arranging owner financing includes agreeing on the terms, paying a down payment, making monthly payments, and paying off the loan.

Agreeing on owner financing terms

To agree on owner financing terms, the seller may arrange to record the details in a promissory note. The promissory note will include interest rate terms, amortization schedules, and loan deadlines.

Making a down payment as a buyer

After you’ve agreed to the financing terms, you will have to make a down payment as a buyer. You can expect this down payment to be a percentage of the purchase price, and it’s usually more than a traditional mortgage setup as the financial risks for the owner are higher.

Making monthly payments as a buyer

Every month you can expect to make a payment towards the home loan. You must pay property taxes and insurance payments to the agency and insurance company.

Paying off the loan

When you reach the end of the loan period, you must make a balloon or lump-sum payment to pay the final costs. You might not be able to make the balloon payment. In that case, you may look for additional financing options to pay off the rest.

Proceeding With Owner Financing

Owner financing is an option for homebuyers keen to include another loan option besides their main mortgage.

Always precede with caution with any loan and seek professional advice before commitment. If you’re confident, proceed with owner financing. Remember that the promissory note is fundamental for your agreement with the seller, and familiarize yourself with the different types of owner financing. Once you’re prepared, make the arrangements and start the owner financing process quickly.