Pros and cons of an assumable mortgage


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When people are planning to buy a home and don’t have enough cash, they plan to apply for some of the common types of mortgages. For one reason or another, most of them fail to consider a type of mortgage called assumable mortgage. As the name implies, this is a type of mortgage in which the buyer can take over the seller’s mortgage. Stated differently, the assumable mortgage is an agreement in which the outstanding mortgage balance, along with the repayment period, interest rate, and other terms, is transferred to the buyer. Thus the outstanding mortgage and its terms are assumed by the buyer.  Therefore there is no need for the buyer to take out a new mortgage. It should be pointed out that lender approval is needed. The assumable feature is available with FHA loans and VA loans.

It could be stated that an assumable mortgage is an interesting instrument for financing your home purchase. It is an interesting instrument because it allows you to acquire a mortgage originally approved by the seller. However, it should be mentioned that while in the past assumable mortgage was used often, and nowadays they are sporadic. They were often used during rising interest rates until the banks realized that they are losing money, so to say. Namely, you are not concerned about the current interest rates by transferring the original mortgage and its terms. This is so because you continue to make the payments of the original mortgage and not a mortgage approved under the current market terms.

Going through the assumable mortgage explanation, you should also consider the different benefits and drawbacks of this type of mortgage.

Benefits of an assumable mortgage

The interest rate on outstanding mortgages – might be lower than the current interest rate charged by banks. For this reason, the buyer may want to take over the current mortgage instead of applying for a new mortgage with a higher interest rate. The attractiveness of assumable mortgages can increase in times of rising interest rates.

Lower closing costs – assuming a mortgage to buy a home can lower the buyer’s closing costs.

Selling point – offering the possibility for an assumable mortgage can be a way to attract more buyers or to sell a property faster. Assumable mortgage possibility can be attractive for buyers because of the numerous benefits that come along with it.

Easier process – assuming a mortgage has a much simple process than taking on a new mortgage. The process of changing it to a new buyer is fairly simple. The standard, time-consuming closing procedure is avoided. In addition, the hassle of property appraisal is usually avoided. Keep in mind that the lender should approve the new buyer as well.

Drawbacks of an assumable mortgage

Limited possibility to select the lender – keep in mind that you don’t have the possibility to choose a lender when assuming a mortgage. Because of the need for lender approval, you have to qualify and get approved by the issues of the original mortgage. In case when the lender doesn’t give consent to the buyer, the process of assuming the mortgage can not be performed.

The level of seller’s equity – could influence the level of down payment. Meaning that if the seller has a high level of equity, then the buyer should make a bigger down payment.

For instance, imagine a home selling for $300,000, where the remaining mortgage balance is $120,000. This means that the buyer should have $180,000 to pay for the seller’s equity. In simple words, the buyer should cover the difference between the property price and mortgage amount. If the buyer doesn’t have the needed cash, he/she can take on another mortgage or loan in general. The new loan could have a major impact on the buyer’s financial situation.

Liability issues – although an assumable mortgage can speed up selling a property, it has some liability issues. Namely, the seller could remain accountable for the debt after the mortgage is assumed. This means that the seller’s credit score might decrease in cases where the buyer fails to meet its monthly payments. The seller should make sure that he/she is exempt from any liability issues after the loan is assumed.

Things you need to know for an assumable mortgage

Not all mortgages are available as assumable mortgage – while in the past more types of mortgage were available as assumable mortgage as well, this is changed in today’s market. Because of tighter regulations and economic changes, an assumable mortgage is hard to come by, but not impossible though. The most common types of loans offering assumable mortgage clauses are FHA loans and VA loans.

It is worth mentioning that VA loans are associated with a veteran’s entitlement, which means that the seller’s entitlement will continue to be associated with the loan even after the assumption process is completed. This means that the seller will not be able to utilize the entitlement for another mortgage. An exception to this is under the circumstance that the buyer (veteran) is using his/her entitlement to buy a home.

Know the type of loan and date for an FHA loan – while FHA loans offer the possibility for assuming, the process of assuming this type of loan depends on the date of the original loan. Loans originated before December 1, 1986, can be executed under the “Simple Assumption Process” without the need for a credit check or approval from the lender. If the original mortgage is approved after the abovementioned date, the assuming process is performed under the “Creditworthiness Assumption Process.” Therefore, under this process, the buyer should qualify for a new FHA loan, and lender approval is needed as well.

Considering the advantages of an assumable mortgage, it is obvious that this type of mortgage can offer numerous benefits for both the seller and the buyer. As a buyer, you can benefit from lower interest rates and better mortgage terms.

But at the same time, it is followed by some drawbacks as well. For instance, depending on the seller’s equity, you may have to pay a higher amount as a down payment. Thus, before jumping into the process of assuming a mortgage, you should go through the details of the agreement. Moreover, maybe you should consider other available mortgages to ensure that you have chosen the most adequate type of mortgage.

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