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Field Guide to Seller Financing

(Updated November 2011)

Seller financing offers advantages to both sellers and buyers. Sellers have an opportunity to widen the pool of potential buyers, and buyers have an opportunity for homeownership even if they are unable to obtain a mortgage through conventional channels. But seller financing can be risky unless structured with some protections in place. Learn about the various forms of seller financing – such as seller carry-back, lease options, installment sales – and what risks to avoid in this updated Field Guide. (M. Martinez-Garcia, Manager, Library & Information Services)

Seller as Lender 

Sellers Can Fill a Void, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2011).

When the Seller is the Lender, (The New York Times, June 2, 2011).

REALTORS® score a win on seller financing, (The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2010).

In buyer's market, seller-financing might suit owner getting few offers, (The Washington Post, June 10, 2010).

Seller as lender, (New York Times, Mar. 24, 2010).

How I sold it: an uphill battle, (REALTOR® Magazine, Feb. 2010).

How I sold it: tapping creative financing, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 2009).

The wisdom of seller financing, (The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 28, 2009).

Seller financing may be worth exploring, (REALTOR® Magazine, Dec. 2008).


Lease options are back: proceed carefully, (Realty Times, Oct. 25, 2011).

Lease-to-own deals offer options in sluggish Tampa Bay housing market, (St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 23, 2011).

Can I get a lease option with bad credit?, (Realtor.com, May 5, 2011).

How lease-options benefit sellers, buyers ... and their REALTORS®?, (CRE Online, n.d.).

Thought about lease-to-own transactions?, (REALTOR® Magazine - Speaking of Real Estate blog, Aug. 6, 2009).

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

American Mortgage (Adobe eReader)

Buying Real Estate Without Cash or Credit (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Financing your condo, co-op or townhouse (Adobe eReader)

Mortgage Myths (Adobe eReader)

Saving the deal: how to avoid financing fiascos and other real estate deal killers (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Secrets of Buying and Selling Real Estate Without Using Your Own Money (Adobe eReader)

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.