Why You Should Pull Credit Reports for Seller Financing

by | BiggerPockets.com

We think about credit scores when getting a car loan, or getting a traditional mortgage for our home, but what about as an investor looking to qualify a potential home owner for your seller financed property sale? In short, you should always pull credit on potential applicants but you need to be aware of the Fair Credit Reporting Act as a decision maker in the approval or denial of a prospective borrower.

Here are a few considerations from the federal level that you need to be aware of to stay in compliance:

  • Disclosed to the consumer that an investigative consumer report will be made by your inquiry. This disclosure should be in writing and mailed or delivered within 3 days of the request to pull credit. The consumer should also be made aware of additional rights that they have related to the credit inquiry including things like, the full scope of why the credit was pulled
  • A printed copy of the credit report should be given to the consumer. In addition they have the right to get additional reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Compliance with RESPA and Truth and Lending guidelines including literature of home ownership financing

In addition to some of the guidelines mentioned above there could also be additional restrictions built into the terms of the sale that you can provide. Here are a few of the examples:

  • A limitation to the dollar amount or percentage of the payment that can be charged on late fees
  • Late fees that have given reasonable consideration to making a timely payment.
  • Not prohibiting the purchaser from pledging the property as security against a future loan (HELOC)
  • No pre-payment penalty
  • Interest rates that exceed state mandated caps. For example in Indiana, a contract cannot be more than 6% above conventional financing for residential properties. Personal property (mobile homes) would not be restricted by this cap.

Now as you review the list above, there is applicability in all cases to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but state specific jurisdictions are best investigated with an attorney before originating the seller financed sale. If you end up in court to foreclose on the purchaser, you want to make sure you have not violated any state or federal law so that your contract can be enforced and you can demand possession of the asset. A contract that fails to follow these guidelines is at risk on not being enforced in the courts leading to more legal and financial consequences. When it comes to offering seller financing, your best opportunity to protect yourself, is to do so before the transaction.

Photo Courtesy:  AlphaTangoBravo

About Author

Kevin Kaczmarek is President of Capital Blueprints, LLC. Serving a national and international client base, Kevin helps clients achieve their personal goals for long-term stability and solid financial growth through Self Directed IRA Investments and individualized Passive Income Strategies.


  1. Kevin,

    What is the interest rate for Georgia??

    “For example in Indiana, a contract cannot be more than 6% above conventional financing for residential properties.”

    Say I am in the market for a private loan of 40,000 to 50,000 if the person doesn’t live there does that count against the interest rate limits??

    Let me give you an example.I am looking at a place for my mom.The going FHA rate is 3.85.I have calculated that even an 8% with a private loan the payment would be in the 400’s per month.

    I can get a small rancher for my mom with no stairs in a good area.If she rents they want 750 for a 1 bed and the apartment rents go up each year.I figure a private investor would much rather make 8 percent as a lender instead of 1 percent in a CD or savings account.

    My mom cannot qualify for FHA.She is retired but has a great pension and social security.

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