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The Seller Finance trap begins with a seller who is having trouble finding a buyer. Maybe the park’s vacancy is too high, maybe the location is too rural or in obvious decline. Whatever the cause, the seller can either sit on the park for an eternity, or find a creative way to attract a buyer. And what can be more attractive to a buyer than an easy to qualify, below market interest rate loan.

Thomas Conway
Connemara Fee Only Planning, LLC
(301) 998-6595
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW - 7th Floor
Washington, DC
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Retirement Planning & Distribution Rules, Retirement Plan Investment Advice, Investment Advice without Ongoing Management, Estate & Generational Planning Issues, Planning Issues for Business Owners, Planning Concerns for Corporate Executives
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NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®, JD

James Ludwick
MainStreet Financial Planning, Inc.
(202) 448-9032
1425 K St. NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC
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Cash Flow/Budgets/Credit Issues, Middle Income Client Needs, Real Estate Investments, Retirement Planning & Distribution Rules, Planning Issues for Unmarried & Same-Sex Couples
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NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®

Lisa Kirchenbauer
Omega Wealth Management, LLC
(703) 387-0919
200 North Glebe Road, Suite 812
Arlington, VA
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Retirement Plan Investment Advice, Advising Entrepreneurs, Women's Financial Planning Issues, Ongoing Investment Management
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NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®

Paul Cocozza
Cocozza Financial Planning, Ltd.
(703) 276-1243
3400 21st Avenue North
Arlington, VA
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Marjorie Burnett
MAB Financial Planning
(703) 528-3205
2739 N. Radford Street
Arlington, VA
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Jeffrey Zures
Sanchez & Zures, LLC
(703) 349-0330
700 12th Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC
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NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®, CPA

Claire Emory
Clarity Financial Planning
(703) 465-5116
1655 Fort Myer Drive, Suite 700
Arlington, VA
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Carolyn Walder
Lifetime Wealth Planning and Management LLC
(703) 519-1254
120 Waterfront Street, Suite 410
National Harbor, MD
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Carolyn Walder
Lifetime Wealth Planning and Management LLC
(703) 519-1254
211 North Union Street, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA
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NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®

Timothy Wesling
Wesling Financial Planning Services Corp.
(703) 535-8280
101 N. Columbus Street, Suite 402
Alexandria, VA
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Beware of the Seller Finance Trap

BEWARE OF THE SELLER FINANCE TRAP
Sat 08/15/09 08:48:07 pm
by Frank Rolfe

There are few things more attractive about the mobile home park business than seller financing. Non-recourse seller financing allows the buyer to escape the hassle and scrutiny of bank lending, while at the same time offering some degree of insurance against fraud (you have not yet paid the seller in full), the ability to give the park back and walk clean in the event of catastrophe, and often includes a below-market interest rate and longer loan term.  

That being said, there is a trap often used by sellers that is baited with seller financing, and it is important to always be aware of, and stay clear of, this danger. 

The trap begins with a seller who is having trouble finding a buyer. Maybe the park’s vacancy is too high, maybe the location is too rural or in obvious decline. Whatever the cause, the seller can either sit on the park for an eternity, or find a creative way to attract a buyer. And what can be more attractive to a buyer than an easy to qualify, below market interest rate loan. 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a below-interest rate seller note. But not when it is used as a trap. And many times, that’s exactly what is being set. 

You see, the seller knows that the park will never hold up to the scrutiny of a bank – the appraisal, the independent review of the numbers, even the negative logic of the loan officer. To keep you from finding out that the park is overpriced, Do the Search or in a bad neighborhood, or basically completely unable to be financed, the seller offers to carry the loan and cuts the bank out of the loop day one. That’s the first leg of the trap.

The second part of the trap is to bait the deal with a super low interest rate to make the park look like it is a profitable investment, even though it could never carry a regular bank debt load of the same size. If a park is a 4% cap, then what better way to disguise the poor performance than with a 2% interest rate on the mortgage? The seller is effectively cooking the books with the buyer’s blessing. When you accept a cash-on-cash return that is spiked by ridiculously low interest rates, then you may be getting into trouble.

The final part of the seller trap is to offer only a short loan term, maybe two to five years, and the below-market interest rate for only the first year or so. What this does is to put the buyer in a negative cash- flow situation almost immediately, and force the round of bank loan requests that normally end in nothing but rejection. Faced with the loan coming due, and no bank loan prospects, the buyer often gives the park back to the seller, less his 20% down payment. There are sellers out there who have sold the same park two or three times under this framework, garnering 60% of their purchase price in down payments, and still owning the park. 

So how do you avoid ...

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