Contracts for Deed & Assignable Mortgages

Last Fall, Edina Realty’s excellent legal department identified FHA loans and short sales as the two, big looming issues for Realtors to prepare for in 2009.

Good call.

So, what is Edina legal predicting will be big in 2010?

Alternative financing.

As in, contracts for deed and mortgage assumptions.

Expected: Higher Interest Rates

Both are likely to be more common in the housing market in the coming year(s), for four reasons:

One. Higher interest rates. The Fed’s ginormous, $1.25 trillion(!) buy-down of mortgage rates (yes, it’s been happening all year) is slated to be phased out early in 2010.

Without that subsidy, rates are expected to float higher. In fact, they already are.

Contracts for deed are are a time-tested alternative to more expensive, less available bank financing.

Two. A continued weak economy.

Consumers who’ve lost a home to foreclosure typically can’t qualify for a mortgage for at least three years.

But if they have steady income, there’s no reason why they can’t make payments on a contract for deed.

Three. Continued, volatile investing climate.

As investors know all too well, the interest rate on short-term savings is now effectively zero (and has been for over a year). Just because banks are expected to charge more for mortgages doesn’t mean that savers can expect to earn more on their balances.

Meanwhile, many investors’ appetite for stocks is, shall we say, diminished.

Contracts for deed provide an attractive alternative to home sellers with considerable equity.

And guess what?

Something like two-thirds of homeowners over 60 years old own their homes free and clear!

Four. Buyer and Sellers will assume and assign, respectively, below-market rate mortgages . . . because they can.

Fully 50% of the mortgages made in 2009 have been comprised of FHA and VA loans — both of which are assumable.

If rates hit 7%-8% in the future, as many expect, being able to step into your seller’s 4.75% interest rate is a no-brainer.

P.S.: one more way U.S. taxpayers are going to get shellacked if/when interest rates rise: all those assumable FHA and VA loans will have to be written down by the tens of billions.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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