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Seller Financing - Six Safety Tips

Why offer seller financing when you sell? A higher price, a good return on your money, a faster sale and to sell a property that is otherwise difficult to sell. Some good reasons, but how do you do it safely?

1. Get a large downpayment. The most obvious way to be safe, and not always possible.

2. Get other security. If they want it with little down, and you like the return you'll get, make it safe by putting a mortgage on other property the buyer owns, to be released when they've paid down the balance to a certain level.

3. Check their credit. Have them pay for and bring you a credit report. Bad credit may be okay, but type of bad credit is important. Unpaid hospital bills they're disputing are not as relevant as unpaid loans.

4. Trust your instincts. If you are usually right about people, give some weight to your judgement of their character. I'd trust a man who felt morally obliged to pay his debts over a playboy that happens to have decent income at the moment.

5. Consider the whole picture. Suppose a bank will loan 90%, and is okay with you taking back a $5,000 second mortgage, allowing the buyer to get in with what cash he has. If you're getting $6,000 more than you expected by accomodating the buyer's needs, where's the loss? You're okay if he never pays the $5,000, right?

6. Talk to a lawyer. Maybe in your area it takes two years to get a foreclosure on a mortgage through the courts, and only six months to foreclose on a "contract for sale." Knowing these things can help you sell in the safest way.

Offering seller financing makes it easier to sell, and to get a higher price. Just be safe about it. Have a real estate lawyer review your paperwork, and use the tips here.

Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit

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