Assuming Seller Concessions On Loan Quotes

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I recently received an email asking about a Good Faith Estimate on a $200k loan. The person asking my opinion attached the actual "estimate" to the email. In addition to a point of origination and a point of discount and $3000 in other closing costs plus $2500 in alleged government charges separate from the $3500 in FHA's initial mortgage insurance premium, it just assumed a 6% seller credit of $12,000 which made it look like the loan wasn't going to need much more than the down payment money to close the loan. They just automatically assumed that the seller would offer that much or be willing to pay that much, because the FHA says they will permit the seller to do so.

Ladies and gentlemen, the FHA allowable limit on seller-paid closing costs may be 6%, but that doesn't mean every transaction has 6% concessions - or any at all, for that matter. I don't think I've heard about any where the seller concession was maxed out - and I have heard of a couple FHA loans recently where they was no seller concession. Keep in mind that on FHA loans there is no mandatory concession, unlike VA Loans which prohibit the veteran from paying some very real and necessary transaction costs that buyers and borrowers traditionally pay. Nor does it change the fact of how expensive the loan is. If you had a less expensive loan, it would be even less net money out of the seller's pocket.

It also makes it appear as if their loan was less costly because of lowered requirements for cash to close. People are often stupid about cash, because they understand that this is real money which they accumulated in their bank account little by little. Loan amounts, not so much - at least not until they've been paying on them for a while. This has the effect of low-balling the cash necessary to close, and the buyer possibly ending up shy on cash to close.

The loan referenced was a damned expensive loan, but by playing "let's pretend someone else is going to pay this" with the consumer and pretending that consumer weren't going to have to pay these costs, they hope to assuage consumer skepticism. But you always pay these costs. If there's a $10,000 seller concession for whatever in the cost, any well-advised seller would also take $10,000 less with no concession, as they will end up with more money in their pocket. This loan officer was pretending to give with the right hand while taking with the left - the standard lender game of making it appear as if their loan is lest costly than it is so you sign up with them and not the competition. By subtracting that 6% of the sales price off the loan cost, they are making their loan look more attractive than it really is.

Except for VA loans, I would advise people to never accept estimates or figures that assume a seller concession. Even with VA loans, you're paying for it one way or another, so I would want to know the real cost of the loan without seller concessions. After all, if the seller is going to pay $5000 more of the proceeds if he accepts my offer than if he accepts someone else's offer, he's going to want at least $5000 more in sales price in order to accept my offer over the other guy's. That is, assuming his agent has anything like a clue - and I never assume the other side is stupid or clueless until they prove it. Even if there are no competing offers, they should accept an offer of $5000 less without the $5000 in costs you're asking them to pay. I get the same amount of money to start, but then I don't have to pay for higher commissions, higher title and escrow fees, or anything else. Subtracting the amount of the needed concessions from your offer and submitting it without a demand for such is always superior to an offer that may be for the higher amount, but has more givebacks to compensate. Seller concessions cost the buyer/borrower money - it just might not leap off the page in black and white.

The higher purchase price necessitated by seller concessions in this manner has a possible consequence that may completely torpedo your loan: If the property doesn't appraise for the required amount. Something between forty and fifty percent of all purchase transactions are hitting this iceberg right now. Sometimes it can be fixed by the buyer coming up with more cash, occasionally by the seller agreeing to take less money. I haven't been hitting the issue where I'm the buyer's agent for several reasons, but it still could happen. There is also the issue of the higher purchase price causing your property taxes to be higher.

Finally, unless you have a fully negotiated purchase contract, you have no idea whether a given seller will actually be willing and able to give those concessions. Many times, the lenders in short sales will disallow them even if the purchase contract price reflects those concessions. Asking for closing costs says two things to those in the know - you don't have a lot of cash and there is a high risk the transaction won't actually close. Neither one of those is a signal you want to send to sellers or listing agent if you can help it. On lender owned properties, it can cause the lender to bypass your offer in favor of a lower offer without that request, because the one thing that costs them even more money than accepting a lower offer is accepting an offer that doesn't close. Even on "regular" sales, a competently advised seller is going to know they're risking a lot of money because of the likelihood of you not having enough cash to close.

Caveat Emptor

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on June 17, 2020 7:00 AM.

How to Avoid A Repeat of the Housing Market Mess was the previous entry in this blog.

Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance or Regular PMI? is the next entry in this blog.

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