Seller financing is when the seller allows you to make payments directly to them, bypassing the bank and Fannie Mae. If the seller does not need all their cash immediately, they might be happy to let you make payments and collect the interest for themselves.
Here is how a typical seller-financed loan works:
1) Most sellers will carry the contract for five years. After that, they want to be cashed out. Thus, the loan is amortized for 30 years with a 5-year balloon payment. This gives you the lower payment a 30-year loan would have, but at the five-year mark (or sooner), you would refinance with a bank loan. This gives you plenty of time to get your credit and debt ratio in compliance with Fannie Mae underwriting.
2) Make sure there is no prepayment penalty so you can refinance sooner than five years, if you choose.
3) A typical interest rate for seller financing is 8% to 10%. Remember, the seller is taking a risk that the lender was not willing to accept, so you have to pay for that. This is also why you want to refinance out of seller financing as soon as you can, preferably after one year. On a short term loan, interest rate is not as significant as for a long term loan.
You should have a real estate attorney write up the contract. It should include the amount owed, the interest rate, the principal and interest payment, that it is a fixed rate, that there is no prepayment penalty, what day of the month the payment is due with a 15-day grace period, and what the late penalty is if you are late (typically 5% of the payment). It should also spell out the terms of the 30-year amortization and 5-year balloon payment. Do not sign the documents unless you completely understand all the verbiage.
You should also hire an appraiser to verify the value of the home and a home inspector so you know exactly what the condition of the home is. Do not bypass these important steps.
Seller financing is not for everyone, but it has worked very well for others. One home buyer who could not qualify for bank financing, due to a bankruptcy that was less than two years old, was able to work out seller financing at only 5%. That enabled them to get into a home of their own sooner, and they were very happy as a result.