Gift of Equity FHA Loan Rules. Buyers Could Use Equity to Buy from Family!

Are you buying a home from a family member?  Family transactions may have pluses for both the buyer and seller.  A major benefit to buyers is a gift of equity.  So what is a gift of equity?  It is a little known rule which allows equity in a family member’s house to be used as the buyer’s down payment.  Basically, the seller passes along part or all of the equity in the house to the buyer.  FHA guidelines, among other mortgages, allow the seller to pass along equity as a gift.  But, it must be done correctly!

gift of equity fha buying from family

Buyer Benefits of a Gift of Equity Purchase

Finding the right house and then learning everything about it could be a daunting task.  But what if you have known the sellers and the property forever?  On top of that, what if the seller will help you out with down payment?  This could be quite the win-win!  Although there are wonderful low to no down payment financing options, a gift of equity scenario could be quite the plus.  Additionally, the seller may even pay for the buyer’s closing costs.  Traditional sellers cannot provide a down payment to the buyer.  Thus, potentially a no money down purchase is available for the buyer!  Plus if there is a higher amount of gifted equity, it could even lower the mortgage insurance.  Therefore a lower monthly payment.

Do you have a potential interest in buying a family member’s house?  Give us a call.  You need a lender and loan officer who can walk you through the correct steps for gifts of equity.  Even if you are receiving a monetary gift from family, there are strict procedures for this.  So get the gift steps up-front by talking to our expert loan officers today.

Do you still want to look at other houses?  Ask us for a referral.  We work with great realtors in many markets.  Also see which realtors do a great job in your area on such resources as Zillow or Trulia.

Why Would Sellers Give a Gift of Equity?

Besides the fact the buyer is family, there are seller benefits to passing along the equity in the home as a gift.  First of all, family transactions typically do not involve a real estate agent.  Therefore the seller saves up to 6% in commissions paid.  Rather than pay a commission, how about pass along that as equity or down payment to your family?  Plus, there may be the benefit of a quicker sale rather than waiting for a buyer.

While calculating the price and the seller’s net, there are costs to keep in mind.  These costs vary by state so ask your lender or real estate attorney.  Typical seller side costs could include the following:

  • Mortgage payoff(s) including home equity loans
  • Prorated property taxes for current year
  • Deed preparation
  • Transfer taxes and/or deed stamps
  • Judgments or liens against the property
  • Contract preparation fee by attorney (if applicable)

Potential Disadvantages

Although there are benefits for sellers, there could be some potential disadvantages.  Since there is not a realtor, someone will need to prepare the offer to purchase and contract.  Since it is a legal and binding contract, we suggest hiring an experienced real estate attorney.  Typically the seller pays this fee in lieu of paying a realtor and we see contract prep fees in the range of $150 – $200.  However you complete the contract, involve your mortgage professional.  There is specific language required in a purchase contract and especially in these scenarios.  Furthermore it is important to speak with your tax professional.  Make sure to ask about any potential tax implications.  Gifts of real estate could trigger an IRS gift tax.

Gift of Equity Requirements

Here are some of the main requirements for these family of equity letter requirements

  • Contract must include specific language
    • State the relationship of the parties
    • Gifted equity amount
    • Any seller paid closing costs
  • Completed and signed gift of equity letter.  We provide the gift letter
  • Close family member
  • Equity in the property

Gift of Equity Letter Requirements

Besides the required family relationship, the gift letter is very important.  Mortgages have specific requirements for terminology in gift letters.   The gift letter must show the donor’s name, address, phone number, dollar amount of the gift, relationship between the borrower and the donor, plus state that no repayment is required.  Here is an approved gift letter format

Here’s another important tidbit.  A gift of equity is not allowed when the seller is an estate.  This is even true when the buyer is family of the deceased.  In order to use a gift of equity, see the deed requirements for an estate.  Even if a gift of equity may not work out in this case, there are plenty of other ways to buy from an estate.

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Options other than FHA for Gift of Equity

FHA is not the only loan program which allows for this gift.  Conventional mortgage guidelines allow this as well.  Actually if the property has a lot of gifted equity, this may be the preferred way to go.  For instance, if there is 20% equity then the buyer could avoid PMI.  Then the mortgage payment is lower and saves money each month.  FHA always requires PMI, even if the loan amount is under 80% of the price.

We hope you find this article helpful and we encourage you to reach out to our dedicated team of loan officers.  Let us help you buy your next home!

Follow our writer, Russell Smith, on ActiveRain.  ActiveRain is a site that real estate professionals, buyers, and sellers may use to gain helpful knowledge.

Posted by Dietchi Thomas on


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