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How a Mortgage Assumption Agreement Works and How to Get One

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Think back to the last time you made an assumption. Maybe it was at work with your boss or at home with your spouse. In any case, you assumed something to be true rather than seek clarification.

You can find yourself in quite the predicament when you assume. But when we’re discussing home loans, an assumption turns out to be a positive thing. Let’s dive into the ins and outs of a mortgage assumption agreement. 

What is a mortgage assumption agreement?

It’s actually pretty self-explanatory. A person who assumes a mortgage takes over a payment from the previous homeowner. Basically, the agreement shifts the financial responsibility of the loan to a different borrower.

Consider the following scenario. You’re interested in buying a home yet want to avoid obtaining an entirely new loan. As long as you understand that you’ll be on the hook for someone else’s debt, a mortgage assumption agreement could be a viable option.

Now for the follow-up question: Why would you decide to assume a home loan instead of getting your own mortgage?

It really depends on the situation. If rates are unfavorable for buyers and the current homeowner has a significantly better rate, then it makes sense to explore a mortgage assumption. Just know that only certain loans are assumable and that you will need to learn about restrictions. 

How long does it take?

By no means is mortgage assumption an easy process. You’ll be asked to provide extensive documentation, much like you would when securing financing the traditional way. That’s why it’s important to have copies of pay stubs and W-2’s ready ahead of time.

Keep in mind that the average loan assumption takes anywhere from 45-90 days to complete. The more issues there are with underwriting, the longer you’ll have to wait to finalize your agreement. Do yourself a favor and get the necessary criteria organized in advance. 

How to assume a mortgage from a family member

Say one of your family members plans to move into a larger house in the near future. Knowing you’re in the market for your own place, they ask you about assuming their mortgage. Here’s what you should do before accepting their offer.

Confirm the type of mortgage they have

As we mentioned earlier, not all home loans are assumable. The good news is that conventional and government-backed loans, such as FHA, VA, and USDA, allow for transfers between borrowers. Other mortgages require the seller to pay off the loan when they hand over the property.

Have enough saved for a down payment

While you may not have to worry about closing costs with a mortgage assumption, you’ll still have to come up with a down payment. These funds essentially pay off the original borrower’s equity. So if the seller previously took out a $300,000 loan and has since paid it down to $250,000, you would pay them $50,000 in cash for their equity.

See if you benefit from a refinance

Not exactly thrilled with the terms of your family member’s loan? You could refinance and enjoy significant savings if you have your credit in order. What’s more, today’s mortgage rates are some of the lowest we’ve ever seen. 

Does it hurt your credit?

We should mention that the seller’s payment and credit history have no impact on this transaction. That said, be prepared for a lender to check your credit score and employment status. Doing so helps them determine if you are, in fact, able to assume the mortgage. 

Pros and cons

Not all aspiring homeowners should opt for a mortgage assumption. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.

Pros

  • Possible lower rate - A lower interest rate could save you hundreds of dollars a month or more. It’s why many hopeful buyers jump at the chance to assume a loan that was originated in a low-rate environment.

  • Pay less in closing costs - We touched on this earlier. Since you won’t need a lender to generate a new loan, you won’t have to worry about typical underwriting fees.

  • Smaller mortgage amount - Not sure you can stomach a 30-year mortgage but don’t earn enough income to manage a 15-year mortgage? You’ll likely find yourself somewhere in between when you take on another person’s loan. This potentially translates to fewer payments and less of your hard-earned money going toward interest.

Cons

  • Higher down payment - This is the biggest drawback when entering into a mortgage assumption agreement. With home prices continuing to rise, equity amounts are at all-time highs. Unless you have a sizable savings account, your best bet may be to research down payment assistance programs for your own home loan.

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