This happens when the buyer agrees to a higher contract price, but the seller also agrees to credit back a set amount to the buyer, so the net purchase price is lower.
For example, if the buyer wants the house for $250,000, they would set the contract price at $300,000 with a side agreement that the seller would credit $50,000 on the closing statement, effectively making the price $250,000.
Why not just a price reduction?
Co-ops (and sometimes condos and homeowners’ associations) want the closing price to be (artificially) higher to maintain their average price per square foot. They don’t want records to show that a unit sold for significantly less than other units, because, in theory, it will eventually drag down the value of the building. Even though a lower price is reasonable for a probate property that needs major renovations, it doesn’t benefit the co-op.
Sometimes cash buyers and investors want the recorded price to be higher, so they can show flip buyers a slimmer profit margin. For example, an investor pays $250,000, hoping to flip it for $350,000. When the investor goes to sell the property, the buyer can check the public records to see what the investor paid. It will show that the investor is trying to make a $100,000 gain. If the records show that the investor paid closer to $350,000, it won’t look like he’s making a large profit.
What can a seller credit be used for?
Non-professional executors and heirs are sometimes worried that the situation seems sketchy. They wonder if they are really allowed to give a seller’s credit. No worries; it is legitimate and fairly common.
In non-probate situations, it is most often used as an incentive to the buyer to cover some repairs or pay for closing costs. Sometimes repairs need to be done for the property to be sellable. It’s a way of putting the repairs on the buyer instead, when the estate is cash-poor or the executor just doesn’t have time.
Usually cash buyers only
A seller’s credit is mostly used for cash buyers for a few reasons.
There are often small credits for something like a broken stove. But sometimes there are legal issues with the property or major renovations are needed. If the credit is a large amount, greater than 10% of sale price, it makes the closing figures look non-traditional. Banks don’t handle that situation well, so a seller’s credit is usually not a good option for a buyer who needs to take out a loan.
Selling a probate property has many nuances; it’s not the same as a regular house sale. You may have sold your home once or twice and figure that selling probate real estate is easy. The reality is that probate real estate can be very different.
To learn more about what to expect during probate, check out my book, “How Probate Works, “ available on Amazon.
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