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Owner financing is a type of mortgage agreement made directly between a home seller and home buyer, cutting out traditional mortgage lenders.

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What Is Owner Financing?

Owner financing is a financial agreement between a home seller and home buyer that replaces a traditional bank-subsidized mortgage with a direct payment plan between seller and buyer. Owner financing works similarly to a regular bank loan, but the seller finances the home, and the buyer pays the seller back over a period of time according to the loan terms.

This process will begin with a large down payment made towards the purchase of the house and a monthly loan repayment amount plus interest. Owner financing is usually more expensive than traditional financing from a lending institution. However, it can be a viable option for home buyers who find it difficult to qualify for financing through a traditional lender.

How Does Owner Financing Work?

Here is a general overview of how the owner financing process works.

  • The buyer and seller agree on financing terms. Owner financing begins when the buyer and seller agree on the financing terms in a promissory note. This includes the owner financing terms such as interest rates, amortization schedule (the timeline of regular mortgage payments), and the deadline for the loan to be paid off.
  • The buyer pays a down payment. The buyer places a down payment on the real estate to secure the purchase after both parties agree to financing terms. This upfront payment is typically a higher percentage of the purchase price than with a traditional mortgage lender. This is because the owner will want as much security as possible in light of the financial risk they are taking on.
  • The buyer makes monthly payments on the loan: The buyer will typically off the balance of the home loan in monthly increments. This includes direct property taxes and insurance payments, which are usually tied into a traditional mortgage but are not included in owner financing.
  • The buyer pays off their loan. At the end of the loan period, the buyer will usually need to pay a balloon payment or lump-sum payment to pay off all remaining costs. If the buyer is unable to pay the balloon payment, they may then seek further financing to pay off the seller, taking on a new loan to pay off the balance of the home’s price plus interest.

4 Types of Owner Financing

An owner financing agreement should be recorded in some kind of written contract. There are several ways to structure an owner financing agreement, which include the following.

  1. Promissory note or mortgage: This model is essentially the same as a traditional mortgage deed, in which the buyer signs a document stating that the lender holds a security in their property until a loan is paid off. In this set-up, the buyer receives the title and the mortgage is recorded with the local government.
  2. Deed of trust: This is another form of promissory note that is similar to a mortgage deed. With a deed of trust, the title of the home is held by a third-party trustee. When the terms of the loan are satisfied, the title is released to the buyer.
  3. Contract for deed: In this agreement, the buyer does not receive the deed and title to the property until the loan amount is paid in full. Until then, the seller retains the property deed and title.
  4. Lease-purchase agreement: In a lease-purchase agreement, also called a rent-to-own agreement, the buyer leases the property for a period of time before agreeing to the final terms of buying the home. If the buyer chooses to buy at the end of the lease period, any rent paid during the lease goes toward the sale of the home.