Mortgage Interest is paid “in arrears”

For Home Buyers: This means the first payment is usually a month later than you expect it to be.

For Home Sellers: This means your mortgage “payoff” is going to be higher than you expect it to be.

This is one of the small issues that often surprises people when they are buyng and selling homes.  Often sellers will think the payoff is wrong, because it is higher than the principal balance on their most recent mortgage payment statement.  Often buyers will be worried about paying rent and a mortgage payment for the month after their close date, and are surprised that the first mortgage payment is a month later.

Basically all “mortgage interest is paid in arrears” means is that your March 1 payment, pays February’s interest on your loan.  Your April 1 payment pays your March interest.

For a buyer, if your closing is February 26th, your first mortgage payment is due on April 1st, and that will include all of the interest for the month of March. (February’s interest per day from closing to month end is paid AT closing)

For a seller, if your closing is Feburary 26th and your principal balance is $362,000 and your monthly payment is $2,800 including taxes and insurance, your payoff may be more like $363,500.

I was preparing some numbers for a client with a March close, and decided to post this for anyone having similar questions.

Please review the Resale Certificate

[photopress:cancelled.jpg,thumb,alignright]My client and I reviewed the Resale Certificate and cancelled his purchase today.

When you buy a condo, or condo-townhome, you do not know everything there is to know before you make an offer.

After you are in escrow, after the contract is “signed around”, you get a resale certificate within ten days. I’m not talking about new properties here, but resale properties. It’s amazing how many agents just hand that big packet over to the buyer and then hope and pray for five days that the buyer won’t open it.

Sit down with your agent and go through that resale certificate. Don’t rely on verbal representations made prior to receiving the resale certificate. I was told by the listing agent that the Association had money in reserves. She volunteered that information, as I would never expect an agent to know that. The Resale Certificate comes and it says ZERO in reserves.

How could anyone have a balance of Zero anyway? Did you ever have a Zero Balance in your bank account? It’s either $2.00 or it’s overdrawn…but flat out ZERO?! Is that even possible? Oh and the “Good News” is that the monthly HOA dues were being decreased beginning 1/1/07. No reserves, so let’s reduce the monthy dues…that’s ripe!

Maybe the lawyers can answer this one. I haven’t seen the Reserve Study Summary in many of these packets and have to hunt it down. It really is not possible to know if the monthly dues are adequate, or if the amount in reserves are adequate, without having a copy of the Reserve Study Summary page. Is that not required here in Washington? If not, someone needs to fix that. How do I help make it mandatory that this vital info be included with/in the Resale Certificate? Who do I call? Who do I write?

Well luckily, in this case, I didn’t need to look at the Reserve Study to know that ZERO wasn’t good enough. The agent kept telling me how much BETTER things were NOW than they USED TO BE. That may in fact be true. But better than it used to be is not necessarily, good enough.