7 Steps That Help Avoid Foreclosure
Short selling your home is not a decision you should make lightly. It is often a difficult and long process. If you are successful, the difference between what you sell the house for and what you owe on the house is forgiven. You’ll also avoid a foreclosure on your record.
Step 1 – Get Educated
You need to know your options when it comes to your home. If you want to keep your house, but can’t make the payments and you owe more than your home is worth, you may look into filing bankruptcy. This will stay the foreclosure process (not forever) and may allow you to stay in your home and repay your lender under different terms.
Deed in Lieu
If you owe more than the home is worth, this is not an option for you. Deed in Lieu means that you give up the house to the bank and walk away. Ie, you give up the deed instead of facing foreclosure.
If you owe more than your home is worth, and don’t want to declare bankruptcy or face foreclosure, then a short sale of your home is the best option. A short sale does have potential tax implications.
Step 2 – Get Some Help
This is probably the biggest tip I would give to people who want to sell their home in a short sale. FIND AN EXPERIENCED REAL ESTATE AGENT WHO HAS DONE A SHORT SALE BEFORE. Your real estate agent will be able to deal and negotiate with the mortgage company(ies) on your behalf. An experienced short sale agent will give you a much better chance of successfully short selling your home.
Because there is often so many different entities involved in a mortgage (1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, the investor on the loan, etc) you really don’t want to do this on your own, with no experience. Plus, you’ll never have any out of pocket expenses to pay an agent, as everything is essentially paid by the lender.
WARNING! Just because an agent says they specialize in “short sales” does not mean they have actually successfully done one! There are many classes agents attend regarding short sales, but nothing compares to real world experience.
Step 3 – Get Started Now
The longer you wait to get started with the short sale process the less chance you have of success. Every state is different with their foreclosure process. You need to decide quickly to start the short sale process if you’re getting behind on your payments, or have already received a notice of default.
Step 4 – Follow Instructions Exactly
An experienced short sale agent will tell you what you need to do to get the house ready to sell. Don’t get too hung up about the price. If the agent wants to set a low price on the house, there is a reason behind that.
You need a buyer that is willing to stick around for a super long closing or changes to the agreement. It can take up to 4 months from when you the offer to when the closing takes place. Don’t get hung up about the price, all you should care about is getting the place sold.
Step 5 – Know The Tax Implications
Congress recently passed and the president signed a law that likely releases you from any tax implications of a short sale.
Talk to a qualified tax attorney or CPA about this for your particular situation. Your real estate agent should know about this! A good agent will have a quality referral for you to handle the tax implications of your short sale.
Step 6 – Prepare to move quickly
Because your closing date may not be set in stone, you need to be prepared to leave your home quickly if needed.
A minimalist lifestyle is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact it should be venerated. Your possessions are just inanimate things; it’s the relationships in your life that really matter. OK, enough life advice! Sell anything you don’t need or haven’t used in the last 6 months on craigslist! The less you have to deal with on moving day the better.
Step 7 – Prepare yourself emotionally
If you are already in default, or have a foreclosure pending, this whole scenario and process of trying to short sell your home can be very emotionally draining.
You will receive solicitations from everyone and their mother. You may have people stop by your home while you are still there. It can be a very difficult process.
Make sure you have people in your life to talk to about your situation. You will need a support network to help through this time in your life. It will pass. And you are being proactive in seeking a short sale of your home. You are taking the right steps, and in time, everything will work out. I can’t promise it will be easy, but you will make it!
TERE RICE REALTOR*
Short Sale Specialist
Allison James Estates & Homes
Serving Temecula and Murrieta Valley
Loan Modification Information
HOPE for Homeowners (H4H)
Countrywide Financial (Bank of America)
JP Morgan Chase & Co.,
IndyMac Federal Bank, FDIC
Federal Government Loan Modification (Participants include: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Home Loan Banks, Hope Now participants, U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Wells Fargo.)
In general, the loan modification programs are intended for primary residences only.
Mortgage loan modifications typically are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Prior to calling a lender or loan servicer, homeowners should have the following information available:
- Loan number
- Income information and documentation
- Most recent mortgage statement
- Bank statements
- Letter demonstrating financial hardship
Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval:
Getting pre-qualified helps you determine how much home you can afford, based on specific financial information you share with your lender. The lender does not verify this information, and consequently there is no guarantee you will qualify for the loan amount. Getting pre-approved requires that the lender verify your financial information, which serves as a commitment to lend a specified amount based on that verified information. This gives you significant buying power with a seller who recognizes that you will be approved for a loan.
Pre-qualification is an informal discussion between borrower and lender. The lender estimates that amount that you can borrow based on what you tell them about your income and assets. The lender does no verification and is not bound to make the loan when you're ready to buy. On the other hand, loan pre-approval is based on documented and verified information regarding your employment, your income, your liabilities, your assets, and the cash you have available to close on a home purchase.
What If I Owe More Than My Home Is Worth?
How Will A Short Sale Affect My Credit?
by debt kid on January 18, 2008
A short sale will negatively affect your credit, but not nearly as much as a foreclosure or deed-in-lieu ~ read this entire article for details on each alternative.
A short sale simply means that the amount of the mortgage balance owed is greater than the current market value of your home. Homeowners who are in financial difficulties and facing foreclosure often opt for a short sale in order to escape the foreclosure process. This is precisely the situation now across the United States where the sub prime adjustable rate mortgage mess has caused mass foreclosures and significantly reduced the value of real estate.
A short sale takes place when the lender agrees to accept less than the amount you owe him on your mortgage because you don’t have enough equity to sell the home and pay all the costs of the sale. And make no mistake, the lender must agree or you’re out of luck.
The effect on your credit report.
You will suffer much more damage to your credit report with a foreclosure than you will with a short sale. It will also take considerably longer to restore your credit rating once your financial difficulties are resolved. In general, here’s what happens:
For a Foreclosure or Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure
Expect about the same things to take place. Quite often this means a loss of between 200-280 points on your FICO score. A pre-foreclosure FICO of 675 could drop to as low as 395, essentially eliminating you from future credit approvals. It may be as long as three years before you can qualify for another home loan.
For a Short Sale
Expect to suffer some credit score damage, but nowhere near as much. Loss of FICO points will be around 75-125 and your report will show it listed as a ‘pre-foreclosure in redemption’ which is far less negative. You will most probably be able to secure a new home loan in about a year and a half.
In any case, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer, tax accountant (CPA) or a good real estate agent who is experienced with short sales. These professional may charge you a bit for their services, but failing to have the right counsel could end up costing you a sizable bundle. So don’t consider going it alone. Get the help you need.
Know Where You’re At.
NOTICE: Don’t get your credit score from anywhere else except myfico.com. They have real scores here, not the fako crap that many sites give you. These are the real deal.
Program Will Pay Homeowners to Sell at a Loss
by David Streitfeld
Monday, March 8, 2010
In an effort to end the foreclosure crisis, the Obama administration has been trying to keep defaulting owners in their homes. Now it will take a new approach: paying some of them to leave.
This latest program, which will allow owners to sell for less than they owe and will give them a little cash to speed them on their way, is one of the administration's most aggressive attempts to grapple with a problem that has defied solutions.
More than five million households are behind on their mortgages and risk foreclosure. The government's $75 billion mortgage modification plan has helped only a small slice of them. Consumer advocates, economists and even some banking industry representatives say much more needs to be done.
For the administration, there is also the concern that millions of foreclosures could delay or even reverse the economy's tentative recovery -- the last thing it wants in an election year.
Taking effect on April 5, the program could encourage hundreds of thousands of delinquent borrowers who have not been rescued by the loan modification program to shed their houses through a process known as a short sale, in which property is sold for less than the balance of the mortgage. Lenders will be compelled to accept that arrangement, forgiving the difference between the market price of the property and what they are owed.
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"We want to streamline and standardize the short sale process to make it much easier on the borrower and much easier on the lender," said Seth Wheeler, a Treasury senior adviser.
The problem is highlighted by a routine case in Phoenix. Chris Paul, a real estate agent, has a house he is trying to sell on behalf of its owner, who owes $150,000. Mr. Paul has an offer for $48,000, but the bank holding the mortgage says it wants at least $90,000. The frustrated owner is now contemplating foreclosure.
To bring the various parties to the table -- the homeowner, the lender that services the loan, the investor that owns the loan, the bank that owns the second mortgage on the property -- the government intends to spread its cash around.
Under the new program, the servicing bank, as with all modifications, will get $1,000. Another $1,000 can go toward a second loan, if there is one. And for the first time the government would give money to the distressed homeowners themselves. They will get $1,500 in "relocation assistance."
Should the incentives prove successful, the short sales program could have multiple benefits. For the investment pools that own many home loans, there is the prospect of getting more money with a sale than with a foreclosure.
For the borrowers, there is the likelihood of suffering less damage to credit ratings. And as part of the transaction, they will get the lender's assurance that they will not later be sued for an unpaid mortgage balance.
For communities, the plan will mean fewer empty foreclosed houses waiting to be sold by banks. By some estimates, as many as half of all foreclosed properties are ransacked by either the former owners or vandals, which depresses the value of the property further and pulls down the value of neighboring homes.
If short sales are about to have their moment, it has been a long time coming. At the beginning of the foreclosure crisis, lenders shunned short sales. They were not equipped to deal with the labor-intensive process and were suspicious of it.
The lenders' thinking, said the economist Thomas Lawler, went like this: "I lend someone $200,000 to buy a house. Then he says, 'Look, I have someone willing to pay $150,000 for it; otherwise I think I'm going to default.' Do I really believe the borrower can't pay it back? And is $150,000 a reasonable offer for the property?"
Short sales are "tailor-made for fraud," said Mr. Lawler, a former executive at the mortgage finance company Fannie Mae.
Last year, short sales started to increase, although they remain relatively uncommon. Fannie Mae said preforeclosure deals on loans in its portfolio more than tripled in 2009, to 36,968. But real estate agents say many lenders still seem to disapprove of short sales.
Under the new federal program, a lender will use real estate agents to determine the value of a home and thus the minimum to accept. This figure will not be shared with the owner, but if an offer comes in that is equal to or higher than this amount, the lender must take it.
Mr. Paul, the Phoenix agent, was skeptical. "In a perfect world, this would work," he said. "But because estimates of value are inherently subjective, it won't. The banks don't want to sell at a discount."
There are myriad other potential conflicts over short sales that may not be solved by the program, which was announced on Nov. 30 but whose details are still being fine-tuned. Many would-be short sellers have second and even third mortgages on their houses. Banks that own these loans are in a position to block any sale unless they get a piece of the deal.
"You have one loan, it's no sweat to get a short sale," said Howard Chase, a Miami Beach agent who says he does around 20 short sales a month. "But the second mortgage often is the obstacle."
Major lenders seem to be taking a cautious approach to the new initiative. In many cases, big banks do not actually own the mortgages; they simply administer them and collect payments. J. K. Huey, a Wells Fargo vice president, said a short sale, like a loan modification, would have to meet the requirements of the investor who owns the loan.
"This is not an opportunity for the customer to just walk away," Ms. Huey said. "If someone doesn't come to us saying, 'I've done everything I can, I used all my savings, I borrowed money and, by the way, I'm losing my job and moving to another city, and have all the documentation,' we're not going to do a short sale."
But even if lenders want to treat short sales as a last resort for desperate borrowers, in reality the standards seem to be looser.
Sree Reddy, a lawyer and commercial real estate investor who lives in Miami Beach, bought a one-bedroom condominium in 2005, spent about $30,000 on improvements and ended up owing $540,000. Three years later, the value had fallen by 40 percent.
Mr. Reddy wanted to get out from under his crushing monthly payments. He lost a lot of money in the crash but was not in default. Nevertheless, his bank let him sell the place for $360,000 last summer.
"A short sale provides peace of mind," said Mr. Reddy, 32. "If you're in foreclosure, you don't know when they're ultimately going to take the place away from you."
Mr. Reddy still lives in the apartment complex where he bought that condo, but is now a renter paying about half of his old mortgage payment. Another benefit, he said: "The place I'm in now is nicer and a little bigger."
Equity lenders using newfound leverage in 'short sales'
Agents complain second lien holders hold up deals for cash.
By ERIC WOLFF - email@example.com | Posted: February 21, 2010
Completing a "short sale" was hard enough in 2009, but since the New Year, some lenders have begun making last-minute demands for more money, real estate agents and analysts say.
As the housing crisis has matured from sour milk to stinky cheese, the market for homes has been shifting from a heavy dose of foreclosed properties to a higher percentage of short sales, in which a borrower sells a property for less than is owed on the mortgage.
But many of these short sellers have multiple loans on their property. Growing demand for short sales in recent months has allowed holders of second loans to become more aggressive in their demands and put the deals at risk.
Also, when the second loan was not used to purchase the house, the borrower loses legal protections, giving the loan holders more leverage in a short sale.
"They have market power now," said Michael Lea, head of the Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate at San Diego State University.
These second loans became especially popular during the early '00s, as home prices skyrocketed and homeowners converted their equity into cash by taking out lines of credit or second mortgages, all of which used the same collateral as the primary mortgage: the house.
As local median housing prices fell 40 to 50 percent during the crash that began in 2006, homeowners looking for a way out of trouble found themselves negotiating with two different debtors.
One way out of house-poverty has been to make a short sale. Because the first loan holders get the deed to the house in a foreclosure, they claim most of the cash in a short sale. In 2008 and 2009, the first paid the second lender a token amount, usually $3,000 to $5,000, just to sign off on the deal.
But foreclosures only eliminate a second loan if that loan was used to purchase the house. If the loan was used to refinance the property or to provide a home equity line of credit, it becomes a "recourse" loan. Even after a foreclosure, borrowers with recourse loans are still liable for debt.
"I would say with seconds, especially recourse loans, they're looking at additional sources of money from the buyer," said Carlton Lund, president of the real estate agency The Lund Team in Carlsbad.
Lund said that some of the second loan holders have been asking for statements of borrowers' retirement accounts. They can't necessarily take the money in these accounts, but they can use it as a negotiating tactic: Withdraw the cash, or the short sale collapses.
The major banks who service many of these home loans say they haven't changed policies. Wells Fargo spokeswoman Amy Injaian-Savicky said Wells had always asked for 401(k) information during a short sale. Citigroup Inc. declined to comment through its spokesman, as did JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Compounding the problem, President Barack Obama's loan modification program has been deemed a failure by the industry. Since it was announced with much fanfare in March, the program has permanently lowered monthly payments for just 116,000, or 11.5 percent, of qualified borrowers, according to the Treasury Department. Meanwhile, 61,000 homeowners have dropped out of the program entirely. As a result, homeowners and borrowers alike realize that loan modification won't keep borrowers in their homes.
At the same time, foreclosures take a minimum of three months under California regulations, and borrowers rarely pay their mortgage bills during that period. The expensive foreclosure process leads primary mortgage holders to push for short sales.
Thus, the first loan holder, the seller, the buyer and agents are motivated to sell short, but there's still one missing player: the second loan holder.
"The second liens, they're getting really aggressive," said Susana Marquez, a short sale specialist for Weichert Realtors Elite in Rancho Bernardo. "They know they have the power to kill the deal. They're asking for $20,000 to 30,000."
One common tactic is to wait till the end of the months-long short sale approval process to make their demands. Jim Lytle, a real estate agent with the Rancon Group in Temecula, said that most short sale delays are still because of slow mortgage holders, but he's in a deal now that's being held up by a second.
"Your only alternative is to foreclose 'em out," Lytle said. "You have a buyer in hand who's ready to close:
'Oh well, gee, Mr. Buyer, you have to pay more money.'"
Agents say buyers often end up having to pay the extra cash because sellers typically have little money to pay debts of any kind. And since the primary lender is entitled to all the cash in a short sale, the parties involved have to come up with some way to satisfy the second lender.
Marquez said sometimes lenders demand a promissory note for future payment from either buyer or seller. Lytle said the primary can be persuaded to give up a few thousand dollars in the deal on occasion, or agents will throw in some money to get the deal done. Sometimes the buyer will pay the lender illegally, outside the official transaction.
"It's very risky," said Sonia Petrovski, another Rancon Group agent. "It's not a guaranteed thing; nothing is guaranteed until it's completely over."
Who Qualifies For A Short Sale
The original concept of a short sale is when a home sells for less than the mortgage(s) on it and the homeowner does not sign a promissory note or bring money to closing. Many homeowners in Orange Park and Fleming Island have not one, but two or three mortgages, including a home equity line of credit. You may be considering a short sale, but the question is - Do You Qualify for a Short Sale? Not every Clay County homeowner does. Here's the thing: The rules for short sales keep changing.
If a home is not sold as a short sale and goes into foreclosure, all the mortgages may be wiped out except first mortgage, so any second or third mortgages may be a total loss to their respective bank. Second and third mortgages are often held by different banks from the first mortgage. A year ago a second mortgage would accept from zero dollars up to $1000 payment and agree to a short sale. So would home equity lines of credit. Not now. Please note that if a prior promissory note has been signed on any of the mortgages, the bank can still come after the parties and obtain a judgment after the sale. A breach of contract has a long time period, so it can be years after the short sale that the bank can still come after the borrower. This is important to negotiate at the time of the short sale to have this waived.
It is not part of this discussion, but one of the comments mentioned liens that survive a foreclosure. There are liens that do, such as Federal tax liens, child support liens and construction liens. The liens for the purpose of this discussion are the mortgage liens.
Today, the second lien holder usually demands $3000-5000 from the first mortgage bank to agree to a short sale, and they may demand sellers sign a note agreeing to pay back a portion of the loan. Banks have figured out a way to recoup some of their huge losses by demanding some cash now and a promise to pay later. Additionally, some homeowners are also required to bring money to the closing if the bank determines they are in a financial position to do so.
So who qualifies for a short sale?
Homeowners with a genuine hardship who owe more money than their home is worth due to: job loss, medical reasons, divorce, or relocation that deplete a home owner's assets are considered by banks to be genuine hardship. In this instance, a bank will typically agree to a short sale and not demand cash at closing or a promissory note (but that doesn't mean prior promissory notes signed at the time of the loan may not come up later - this has to be negotiated to be waived).
So who may not qualify for a short sale with no financial penalty?
1. Homeowners who realize their home is worth less than what they paid and they just don't want to make the payments anymore.
2. Homeowners who have significant assets and income.
3. Homeowners who have bought a second home.
Homeowners who qualify for a short sale as of now will usually not be asked by the bank to execute promissory notes for any balance owed. Homeowners who do not qualify for a short sale may be required to either sign promissory notes and/or bring cash to closing or the property will go into foreclosure.
Please note that there are always exceptions and in some areas banks may be more lenient with negotiating due to the number of short sales and foreclosures in those markets. The observations here are what we are seeing in our market. There are situations where the borrower walks away with little or no money out of pocket or promissory note when they don't fall within the original concept of a short sale.
What should you do if you are behind in your payments?
If you are behind in your payments, call your bank(s) and keep communications open. Ask to speak to someone in the Loss Mitigation Department. You may qualify for a loan modification or another program. Seek the advice of your financial adviser, accountant and attorney to give you all the information about your particular situation.
Contact an experienced short sale real estate professional to determine what your home may sell for. You may me for a consultation to discuss your options and for referrals to legal and financial professionals.
So should you do a short sale or not?
Short sales affect your credit for two years. Foreclosures impact your credit for five years.
Top 10 Myths About Buying a Foreclosure
Trulia.com and RealtyTrac recently surveyed US adults to get some insight into what people *think* is involved with buying a foreclosure. Here are the Top 10 Myths that came up, and the facts to set the record straight:
1. Foreclosures need a huge amount of work. 92 percent of consumers expressed that if they bought a foreclosure, they would be willing to make home improvements after they closed the deal, with 65 percent being willing to invest 20 percent or less of the purchase price. Although stories of foreclosures missing plumbing and every electrical fixture are very memorable, many foreclosed homes need only the (relatively inexpensive) cosmetics that many new homeowners want to customize no matter what kind of home they’re buying: paint, carpet, etc.
2. Foreclosures sell at massive discounts, compared to other homes. Almost every member – 95 percent – of the surveyed group expected to pay less for a foreclosed home than for a similar, non-foreclosed home; 18 percent had realistic expectations of less than a 25 percent discount. However, 36 percent expected to receive a bargain basement discount of 50 percent or more off the value of a similar non-foreclosure. Reality check: while foreclosures might be discounted massively from what the former owner paid or owed, their discounts are much more modest when compared to their value on today’s market and the prices of similar homes.
3. Buying a foreclosure is risky. 49% of respondents said they perceived buying a foreclosure as risky. And yes - buying a foreclosure at the auction on the county courthouse steps can have risks, including the risk the new owner will take on the former’s owner’s liens and other loans. But most buyers looking for foreclosures are looking at bank-owned properties, which are listed on the open market with other, ‘regular’ homes. Buying these homes is really no more risky than buying a non-foreclosed home.
4. You can’t get inspections on the property when you buy a foreclosed home. County auction foreclosures don’t often offer the ability for buyers to have the homes inspected. But virtually all bank-owned properties for sale on the open market not only allow, but encourage buyers to obtain every inspection they deem necessary. This is because almost every bank sells their foreclosed homes as-is, and they want to avoid later liability. It’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure that the buyer has full information about the property’s condition before they close the deal.
5. There are hidden costs to watch out for when buying a foreclosed home. Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents who felt there is a negative stigma to buying a foreclosure expressed the concern that buying a foreclosure poses the danger of hidden costs. At some foreclosure auctions, there are buyer’s premiums and other hefty fees that can really add up and take a chunk out of the effective savings the buyer stood to realize. However, when you buy a bank-owned property that is listed for sale with a real estate agent, the closing costs are the same as they would be if you bought a non-foreclosed home. Overdue property taxes, HOA dues and other bills left behind by the defaulting homeowner are cleared by the bank that owns a foreclosed home before it is sold on the market, though these items should be watched out for if you buy a home at the county foreclosure auction.
6. Foreclosures are more likely to lose their value than “regular” homes. Thirty-five percent of U.S. adults who believed there are downsides to buying foreclosed properties believed this myth. In fact, because foreclosures often offer a discount from the home’s current market value, they may offer some degree of insulation from further depreciation. Whether a home loses its value or not has to do with the dynamics of the local market, including the area’s supply of homes, demand for homes, interest rates and the health of the employment market – not with whether the home was or was not a foreclosure at the time it was purchased.
7. Most foreclosures happen when homeowners just walk away. Out of homeowners with a mortgage, only 1 percent said walking away from their home would be their first choice if they were unable to pay their mortgage. And a whopping 59 percent of mortgage-holders said they wouldn’t walk away from their home – no matter how upside down they were on their mortgage. Most foreclosures happen when the owners lose their jobs or their mortgage adjusts to the point where they absolutely cannot pay the mortgage, no matter how hard they try. Voluntary ‘walk-away’s are simply not as popular as many people think.
8. When you buy a foreclosure, you should lowball the bank – they are desperate to get these homes off their books. Stories about in the press abound about the large numbers of foreclosed homes the banks have on their books. We’ve all heard the adage that banks have no interest in owning these properties. But the real deal is that they’re simply not desperate enough to give these places away. Also, the banks mostly service the defaulted loans – they don’t own them. Various groups of investors do, and they hold the banks accountable to selling the bank-owned property at as high a price as possible, helping them cut their losses. Many banks won’t even consider lowball offers, and many bank-owned properties actually sell for above the asking price. Before a bank will take a lowball offer, they will almost always reduce the list price first, and see if that attracts a higher offer than the lowball one they have in hand.
9. You need to be able to pay in cash in order to buy a foreclosure. Again, if you buy a foreclosed home on the county courthouse steps, you might need to bring a cashier’s check and be ready to pay for the place on the spot. By contrast, bank-owned homes are bought through a more normal real estate transaction, which means buyers can obtain a mortgage to finance the home just like they would if the home weren’t a foreclosure. It is true, though, that in some markets, banks prefer offers from cash buyers, but this tends to be in situations where the property’s condition is pretty dire, and the bank knows this may make it hard for a buyer to obtain financing.
10. It’s easier to buy a foreclosure with bad credit if you get a mortgage with the same bank that owns the property. Think about it: why would the bank want to end up with the same property as a foreclosure, again? Well, that’s what would happen if they allowed buyers with low credit scores to buy their foreclosures just to earn the interest on the mortgage. In reality, many banks do offer incentives like lower fees or closing cost credits for buyers who use their bank for their mortgage. But the buyers must meet the same credit, income and other qualification standards as anyone else would to seal the deal.