Land Contracts. A Good Deal or a Potential Disaster?

Real Estate Agent with Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI

Land Contracts. A Good Deal or a Potential Disaster?

While buying a house on Land Contract sounds like a great idea, here are a few potential pitfalls to think about:

There are a few things to consider before going after a land contract home.

First, they usually require a 20% down payment or more. Most of the time, the lack of funds is the reason that you can't get a mortgage in the first place. The homeowner will require a credit check, references, W-2's, etc, just like a mortgage company would. So, if you've recently had a bankruptcy or foreclosure, it's going to be extremely hard for the seller to take a risk on you.

Second, will you keep second guessing your decision? It's not like renting. If you leave, you'll be out the monthly payments, your substantial down payment and could be sued by the original owner for not purchasing, because you already have a legal contract in place.

Third, what if the original owner stops making payments and your "new house" gets forecloses on? The bank/investor who holds the mortgage on the property doesn't care that you've been making payments to the owner, they just know that they weren't getting them. After the third missed payment, the foreclosure process starts. The only way to save the house after that is to pay the entire loan off before the redemption period is over.

"Land Contract" seems to be the latest buzz-word. If you want to buy a house, give me a call or send an email and we can talk. I have a few lenders that can check your credit and if it's not up to par, they'll let you know what to do to get your scores up in the least amount of time so you can buy a house as soon as possible. If you still want to buy a house on Land Contract, we can work with you on that, too.

*This is a partial list of things that could go wrong with a Land Contract. There are also way to ensure that you don't go through these. Contact me and we can discuss this in more detail.


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Debbie Reynolds 06/24/2012 05:23 AM
ActiveRain Community
Real Estate Trends
Buyer Information - What Buyers Need to Know in Today's Market
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Nicholas Crane
Crane Forest and Property Management - Cadott, WI
Managing & Appraising Forest Land

Thanks Eric for this post I think that too many potential home buyers dont have a clue before they decide to waste sellers time. 

Jun 23, 2012 11:39 AM #1
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Nicholas, it's not just a matter of wasting the homeowners time, they really need to understand that buying a land contract is a serious thing.

Jun 23, 2012 11:42 AM #2
Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady!
Keller Williams Realty Boise - Nampa, ID

Oh boy...our office doesn't allow an agent to do them....they are so very risky!  I love the way you explained it! 

Jun 23, 2012 11:48 AM #3
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Deborah, thanks. I do what I can to help people, but way more often than not, they rent until they can buy.

Jun 23, 2012 12:00 PM #4
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I am afraid I still do not know what a land contract is.  It doesn't sound like a good idea though.

Jun 23, 2012 12:03 PM #5
Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

One of my first investing strategies was to use land contracts as they didn't trigger the "due on sale" clause. The best advice I can give people is to look into Bill Gatten's land trust technique. All potential risks, for both parties, are addressed and protected.

Jun 23, 2012 12:43 PM #6
Jackie Connelly-Fornuff
Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY - Babylon, NY
"Moving at The Speed of YOU!"

Thanks for shedding light on land contracts. I think it is also best to rent until you can buy. It's safer.

Jun 23, 2012 01:26 PM #7
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Hey, someone got a Gold Star before I could punch the Suggest button!  Great coverage on a topic that's pretty confusing to many.

Jun 23, 2012 01:41 PM #8
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Land contracts should only be done if its purely owner financing.  Would probably work for vacant land in this economy.

Jun 23, 2012 02:46 PM #9
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Land contracts have been around for DECADES - in fact, longer than BANKS and they are very common for raw land purchases.  

A knowledgable attorney is a MUST

Jun 23, 2012 08:10 PM #10
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

There was a time when this concept was on point and being used....I haven't seen or heard of a deal like this for some time...If it can help someone get in or get out of Real Estate, so be it...I agree with Wallace my learned friend in summer cubicle #10  however. Attorney a must here

Jun 23, 2012 11:58 PM #11
Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

All things that are true, but there are way to protect yourself. Use a 3rd party escrow company that pays the underlying mortgage and taxes first, then remaining money goes to the seller. Two, make sure you record the sale with the county and get the title put in your name. (Most people can't sell on contact if they don't have the mortgage paid off - Mortgage company wants to be paid off "Due on Sale"

The owners I deal with on these types of sales, really don't care what type of credit you have if you can come up with the down payment. They know they get the 20% down and the home back if you stop paying.

Also, this can be great for you the real estate agent as it puts sales in your pocket from people that can't qualify with the banks.

Jun 24, 2012 12:05 AM #12
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

Hey Eric,


Good stuff. A lot of borrowers/buyers in this situation also don't realize they have to pay a higher interest rate. Here it's about 6%.

Jun 24, 2012 12:18 AM #13
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Eric, This is a great blog with valuable information. In fact I am going to reblog it. Thanks.

Jun 24, 2012 05:17 AM #14
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

Land Contracts are becoming popular here in Indy as well...but our attorney advised that the seller's mortgage can be "called" if they sell on land contract so many of our sellers won't take that risk.

Jun 24, 2012 09:57 PM #15
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Thanks for all the comments.

The one thing I wish I would've mentioned in the initial post is what Todd Clark brought up. Most mortgages have a "Due on Sale" clause, meaning that if the owner has a mortgage, and they "sell" the house on land contract, the mortgage company wants ALL their money right then.

Jul 11, 2012 08:32 AM #16
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Eric Michael

Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519
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