Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate

Seller Financing Real Estate 101

Written by Paul Esajian

Key Takeaways:

As a real estate investor, it is crucial to keep all of your options in mind when selling or buying a new property. Numerous non-conventional financing methods can offer unique benefits, no matter what side of the deal you are on. Among these opportunities is seller financing, a process that essentially eliminates the middleman and allows buyers and sellers to negotiate more directly than a traditional loan. Keep reading to find out if this strategy is something you should look for in the future.

What Is Seller Financing?

Luckily seller financing is exactly what it sounds like: the seller provides the financing rather than a bank or mortgage lender. Seller financed homes will be paid for by the buyer the same way any other property is bought and sold, except without directly going through the bank. Instead, the previous owner will act as the bank and will receive payments directly from the seller. On a surface level, the process may not look dramatically different to a buyer. They are granted a loan and timeframe to purchase the property, although there may be lower entry barriers than a traditional mortgage. What is unique about a seller financing mortgage on the other side of the spectrum is that it provides sellers with incremental cash flow rather than a lump sum when a property sells.

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What is seller financing

Seller Financing Calculator

When calculating the payments for a seller-financed mortgage, the most important thing to remember is that the terms will depend on what the buyer and seller agree on beforehand. Therein lies one of the biggest perks owner financing offers: flexibility. Buyers and sellers alike will have the opportunity to negotiate the details of the contract and loan.

That being said, a seller financing contract will be different than a conventional mortgage in terms of requirements and stipulations; however, it can still be just as straightforward. In fact, determining the payment amounts for a seller-financed loan is as simple as plugging the terms of the loan into an existing mortgage calculator.

To fully make use of a seller financing calculator, you will need certain information at hand. Be sure to determine the basics, including the loan’s purchase price, interest rate, and time frame. The goal is to find an agreement that benefits both the buyer and seller. So while some of these factors are negotiable, keep in mind that both parties will be acting to protect their bottom line.

How Does Seller Financing Work?

When it comes to seller financing, the buyer will typically sign a promissory note to the seller with information on the interest rate, repayment schedule, and default consequences. Sellers will often not require buyers to jump through the same hoops compared to getting a loan through a bank. However, this strategy usually takes less time than traditional mortgages.

To find owners willing to finance a sale, investors should lookout for a seller financing addendum added to property listings. If you are an experienced investor, you may know this is uncommon. That means buyers on the hunt for seller-financed properties should be prepared to ask, even if this strategy is not offered upfront. It is also important to consider that this type of financing can sometimes come with higher interest rates or balloon payments. So while you can avoid the requirements of a traditional mortgage, owner financing is not to be taken lightly.

There are some other stipulations; the biggest is commonly known as a seller financing clause or a “due on sale clause.” This is a legal portion of mortgages that grants banks the right to demand the loan immediately, in full, if a property is sold. So what does that mean for the parties involved? If the seller does not fully own a property, they will have to pay out the bank for the existing mortgage upon selling the house. Therefore, owner financing typically does not work if there is already an existing mortgage on the property in question. As a buyer, you should focus on sellers who don’t have a mortgage.

With these factors in mind, you may be asking yourself an important question: Why choose seller financing? The answer is that, despite the possibility of an owner financing clause gone wrong, there are numerous benefits to this form of financing for both the buyers and sellers. Owner financing should be thought of as one of many options you have as an investor.

Seller Financing As A Buyer: The Benefits

When you elect to purchase a property through seller financing, you eliminate the need to go through a bank. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of buying a home through owner financing is that you will not be forced to meet the same eligibility requirements. This can mean the difference in becoming a homeowner for a lot of people. All things considered, the seller will likely require good credit history, but it can be easier to work something out directly rather than going through traditional financing.

  • Opens up possibility of purchasing more properties

  • Owner financing does not appear on your credit report

  • Prospect of a smaller or nonexistent down payment

  • Closing process is made easier, faster and often cheaper

By opting for owner financing, the debt will often not appear on your credit report. For investors with a less than stellar credit history, or even those with multiple investments, this could open up the opportunity for multiple investments in the future. Similarly, by negotiating directly with the seller, there is the possibility for a smaller or nonexistent down payment. Depending on the seller’s financial situation and wishes, you may not be required to put down the same amount of money typically asked by banks.

Without the bank, owner financing can also mean an all-around easier closing process. There will be time for the buyer and seller to negotiate the terms of the deal; however, these will not be the same hold-ups one encounters when applying for a loan through a bank. This can save busy investors from the headache of a complex closing negotiations.

Seller Financing As A Seller: The Benefits

If you are having trouble selling a property, perhaps one of the most important benefits of seller financing is that it can attract new attention to your listing. While it may not be what you initially had in mind, seller financing can help sell a property that won’t go. Investors are attracted to seller-financed properties for several reasons. Therefore, it could create multiple offers for your property and even help secure you a better interest rate. Like I’ve said before, there is no need to go through a bank for seller-financed homes, meaning you can negotiate the terms of the deal more directly and efficiently.

  • Seller financing can make your listing stand out

  • Possibility of a better interest rate

  • Monthly income

  • Spread out tax payments

One of the biggest perks involved in seller financing is the prospect of monthly income. For investors looking to take a step back, seller financing can provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Buyers will be making direct payments to you, and the property is completely out of your hands. It can be helpful to think of it as a passive income situation.

Finally, another great benefit to seller financing is that your tax payments may be spread out accordingly. When you traditionally sell a home, sellers will be taxed accordingly for the amount of money. Lucky enough, the IRS has tax regulations in effect for seller-financed properties or installment sales. This can benefit sellers by requiring them to pay off small portions of the tax bill each year as the loan is being paid off, rather than all at once.

Seller financing mortgages

This should not serve as an exhaustive list of benefits for buyers and sellers, nor should it convince you to choose owner financing for every deal moving forward. Instead, seller financing should be thought of as another tool in your toolkit as an investor. Non-conventional financing often represents increased opportunities for investors, and it should be considered as such. You have options for buying or selling a home; you need to make sure you know how to use them.

Disadvantages Of Seller Financing

The disadvantages of seller financing fall primarily on the shoulders of buyers. However, the most notable of the drawbacks buyers may face is the increased likelihood of paying a higher interest rate. While not guaranteed, buyers participating in a seller-financed deal will almost certainly pay a higher interest rate than institutional bankers will charge. Not only do institutional banks have the flexibility and capital to offer non-conventional loans, but sellers will want to mitigate the risk they are taking on by increasing the interest rate.

In the end, the buyer may actually end up spending more on interest than they save on avoiding closing costs. It is also worth pointing out that buyers won’t avoid many fees by choosing to pursue a seller-financed deal. In fact, buyers should still expect to pay for things like a title search, survey fees, document stamps, and taxes. While not necessarily a disadvantage, some buyers may forget to account for the more synonymous fees with traditional financing methods.


Seller financing has become a powerful tool for today’s investors to have in their back pocket. With it, the potential to usher a deal to the closing table is magnified. Therein lies the true benefit of owner financing: optionality. With one more option to complete a deal, investors are far more likely to realize success when seller financing is used to complement other closing strategies. That said, seller financing isn’t intended to be used on every deal, and it’s just as important for investors to know when not to use it. If for nothing else, there are pros and cons to seller financing that must be weighed against each other before every deal. Hopefully, this will help investors know when to deploy a seller-financed strategy and when not to.

Have you ever opted for owner financing? Were you a buyer or a seller? Let us know your thoughts on owner financing in the comments below.

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