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The Nuances of Your Contract (continued)

Seller Rent Back

It is often the case that when the buyer and seller are unable to agree upon a specified closing date for the transaction, the Real Estate Agent involved will negotiate a "rent back" period. This means the transaction technically closes, the loan funds and ownership of the property is transferred into the buyer's name, but the buyer does not take occupancy of the property until several days later. In this scenario, the buyer sets up a rental agreement, in which the property is leased back to the seller.

An important footnote to this somewhat common strategy is to make sure the seller is not occupying the property in a lease agreement for more than 30 days after the close of the purchase transaction. This would constitute a non?owner occupied purchase in the lender's eyes, and would cause the terms of the loan to change radically.

Seller Contributions

Buyers GuideDepending on the seller's eagerness to close the transaction, the seller of a property will often become aggressive and offer to pay some or all of the non?recurring closing costs and/or origination points associated with the purchase on the buyer's behalf. This common strategy can be very beneficial to the buyer, particularly if the buyer is short on funds to close. It can also be the vehicle that effectively drives the interest rate down and provides the buyer with a more affordable monthly payment. Note that there are limitations on how much the seller is permitted to contribute, depending on the loan?to?value ratio. The typical limitation stipulated by the lender is that the seller contributes no more than 6% of the purchase price on FHA loans and 3% on conventional loans. Seller contributions MUST BE isolated to non?recurring closing costs and/or origination points only. The lender will not permit the seller to contribute funds back to the buyer after the close of escrow to accommodate repairs to the property. Items such as roof leakage, new carpet, new paint, etc., cannot be covered by any seller contribution clause.

Points vs. No Points

Points are often a misunderstood concept for first time home buyers. Points are nothing other than interest paid up front (at the time of closing), to obtain a lower interest rate on a loan. One point is equivalent to 1% of the amount of money borrowed. If you are going to borrow $300,000 on your loan, one point would equal $3,000 up front. This generally generates 1/4 to 3/8 of a percent lower interest rate, depending upon the loan program.

Buyers GuideWhen does it make sense to pay points? Paying points is a prudent financial move, if you are planning to be in the loan for a long period of time. Again, one of the most important questions to address when you borrow money is, "How long do you need to borrow this money?" This will answer the two all?prevailing questions you will have, which are 1) Should I pay points? And 2) What loan program is best for me? Notice that the question is not geared to, "How long do I plan to live in the home?" But more appropriately, "How long am I likely to be in this loan?"

How long you will be in the loan is not only affected by the tenure that you own the home, but also the probability of seeking a refinance at some point in the future. As a general rule of thumb, you will need to be able to recuperate the total cost of the points in a period of time that is less than the amount of time you will need to borrow the money.

When deciding whether or not you should pay points, take into consideration where interest rates are at when you seek financing, and compare that to historical market trends.

When interest rates are at historical lows, it makes much more sense to pay points, especially if you think you will live in the property for an extended period of time. Historically low rates, combined with the fact that you know you do not intend to move would indicate you will have longevity in the loan. It is unlikely rates will go down, giving you incentive to refinance.

Rates are cyclical. When interest rates are off of their historical lows, and higher than they generally are, we know that there is a strong likelihood rates will eventually come down. This is certainly no time to pay points. The chances of refinancing at some point in the future are extremely high, and therefore, you would not need to be in this loan for a long period of time.

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