These days many of the FHA Borrowers that I work with require Sellers to pay most of their Closing Costs, so I need to be on top of what the FHA Guideline On Seller Paid Closing Costs are. The FHA Guideline On Seller Paid Closing Costs are very specific, but could cause some last minute surprises if not explained correctly, and completely understood by the Borrower.
FHA does not require that a Buyer put any of his or her own money towards Down payment and/or Closing Cost. All of the money for Down payment and Closing Costs can come from an acceptable gift source such as a:
- Family member
- Non Profit
- State Program like DCA in Georgia
FHA will not allow a Seller to contribute ANY money towards Down payment, but they will allow the Seller to contribute up to six percent of the Sales Price towards the Buyers Closing Costs. This sounds good and it is, and, I now see the Seller actually pay all the Buyers Closing Costs including their settlement charges. In the negotiation process the price agreed to will determine the amount the seller is willing to contribute. Don’t forget, the property will have to appraise.
This means that even though the Buyer can receive up to six percent towards Closing Costs, they should not request any more than the actual amount of Closing Costs that the Seller will be allowed to pay at the Closing. If the Buyer asks for more money than the Seller will be allowed to contribute towards Closing Cost, the Seller gets to keep the difference, and the Buyer ends up paying more for the house than they needed to. This means that before a Buyer or their Realtor asks for Seller Paid Closing Costs, they need to talk to their Loan Originator, and have him or her give them a very close estimate of what the Total Closing Cost will actually be including all settlement charges. I always guarantee my estimates and promise that there will be no surprises at the closing table.
In figuring the Estimated Closing Costs, the Loan Originator will need to take into account the Closing Cost that FHA will not allow the Seller to pay, and subtract them from the Total Closing Cost Estimate. The Closing Costs that will need to be deducted from the Total Closing Costs are any Closing Costs that are paid before the Closing. Those will include any fees paid to the Lender or other vendors prior to the Closing.
Possible items that maybe required to be paid before of the Closing are:
- Appraisal Fee
- Condo Questionnaire
- HOA Clear Letter
There are other fees that could possibly be required to be paid before the Closing, but these are the most common ones. However, even though I have included Homeowners Insurance in the list above, there is a way to include them into the costs that the Seller will contribute at the Closing.
All Lenders will require that the Borrower obtain an insurance binder before the Closing, but they do not require that the premium be paid prior to the Closing as long as a check will be sent to the insurance company at the time of the Closing. I have heard of angry Buyers that did not find out until the Closing that they could not be reimbursed for the items that they paid before the Closing. That is not the type of surprise that anyone wants at the last minute. I make sure that my Borrowers understand this when I am Pre-Qualifying them, when I am doing the Mortgage Application with them, and after the loan is approved. Homeowners insurance should be decided on early in the process as the premium needs to be accounted for in the underwriting process, any change or increase will require that the loan be re-underwritten. I want them to take advantage of ALL the funds that the Seller has agreed to contribute, and I don't want an angry phone call from my Borrowers after the Closing.
This is something that cannot be explained enough, and should be reinforced at every appropriate opportunity. FHA Guideline On Seller Paid Closing Costs are very clear, and need to be followed, because FHA does not provide any flexibility when it comes to this issue.