It’s Important To Follow These Specific Steps When Using Gift Funds For Your Down Payment

It's Important To Follow These Specific Steps When Using Gift Funds For Your Down PaymentAs lenders tighten mortgage guidelines for Maine home buyers, minimum down payment requirements are increasing.

Several years ago, you could finance a home with nothing down. Today, most conventional mortgages require at least 5 – 10 percent.

Incidentally, these guideline changes have led to an increase in the number of home buyers accepting cash gifts from family.

Gifts are allowed in most cases but the problem is, if you don’t accept the gift in a “lender-friendly” way, the mortgage underwriter could reject it, and negate it.

Three Steps To Success With Your Down Payment Gift Funds

You can’t just deposit a cash gift into your bank account. You have to follow a series of steps and keep records.

  1. Provide an acceptable gift letter signed by all parties
  2. Provide documentation of the gifter’s withdrawal of funds via teller receipts
  3. Provide documentation of the giftee’s deposit of funds via teller receipts

Lenders require these 3 steps for two basic reasons.  First, they want to make sure that the cash gift is “clean” (i.e. not laundered).  Second, they want to make sure the gift is really a gift and not a loan-in-disguise. It’s why lenders typically require that the loan application be accompanied by a signed, dated letter.

For example:

I am the [relationship to recipient] of [name of recipient] and this letter serves as evidence that I am gifting [name of recipient] [amount of gift] to be used for the purchase of the home at [complete address of property]. This is a gift — not a loan — and there is no expectation of repayment. Signed, [Signature of gifter]

Keep The Cash Gift Funds Separate From Your Other Money

As an additional step, home buyers receiving cash gifts should make sure that gifted funds are not commingled at the time of deposit.

If the cash gift is for $10,000, therefore, the bank’s deposit slip should indicate that a $10,000 deposit was made — nothing more, nothing less. Don’t add a random $100 deposit to the transaction, in other words. The $100 deposit should be a separate transaction.

It’s also worth noting that gifting funds between family members can create both legal and tax liabilities.

If you’re unsure about how donating or receiving a gift may impact you, call or email me directly. If I can’t help you with your questions, I can refer you to somebody that can.

These Overlooked Issues Can Become Deal-Killers For Your Maine Mortgage Application

These Overlooked Issues Can Become Deal-Killers For Your Mortgage ApplicationA mortgage loan approval is never final until it’s funded. And that means after you’ve signed the final paperwork and the bank has wired funds to escrow.

Mortgages are made up of many moving parts, any of which might “go wrong” while your home loan is underway.

Some are in your control, like deciding to purchase new items on credit during the mortgage process, many more are not. These “not in your control” items are the ones that you may not be thinking of.

Just being aware of some potential pitfalls could help save your loan down the road, and your peace of mind today.

What Many Mortgage Articles Don’t Say

Many mortgage related articles offer similar things like buying a car before closing, or opening a bunch of new credit cards, but there are  more uncommon factors that can lead to a similar loan turndown.

For example, a home not be able to get approved if it’s unsuitable, or unsafe, for human habitation — a condition you may not discover until after a thorough home inspection’s been made.

Broken windows, lack of plumbing, major electrical code violations and/or major foundation damage are all deal-breakers with a lender.

You’ll either have to fix the home prior to your loan closing, or don’t close at all.

More Mortgage Pitfalls To Avoid

There are others ways in which a mortgage approval can go bad, too:

  • You’re self-employed and your income was declining over the years leading up to your mortgage application
  • Your tax return shows large amounts of unreimbursed employee expenses
  • You have switched lines ofwork or had unexplained breaks of employment in recent years

Mortgage approvals are delicate and, despite an improving economy, lenders still operate with caution. Talk with your Maine real estate agent and your Maine loan officer and put together a game plan.

The best way to beat the mortgage system is to know the rules before you start to play.

And the best way to know the rules is to speak with your trusted mortgage professional today!