FHA Loans Made Easy: Seller Contributions Explained

Seller and home buyer ageeing on a seller concessionWhen buying a home with an FHA-insured mortgage, receiving financial assistance from the seller can help make the deal more affordable. Sellers may agree to cover a portion of the buyer's closing costs, provide a monetary gift, or make other concessions. However, the FHA does limit the maximum contributions a seller can provide.

This article will examine expected seller contributions, their limits, and why the FHA regulates this practice. Understanding the FHA guidelines can help buyers utilize seller assistance effectively while avoiding issues during the mortgage process.

Key Takeaways

  • The key points to keep in mind about receiving seller contributions with an FHA loan include:
  • The FHA limits seller contributions to control risk and prevent inflated prices.
  • Allowable contributions include closing costs, price reductions, HOA fees, and repairs.
  • All assistance must be documented in the contract and HUD-1 form.
  • Contributions can help buyers afford closing and upfront costs.

Why the FHA Limits Seller Contributions

The main reasons FHA restricts contributions from the seller include:

  1. Avoid concealed inflating of price: The FHA wants to prevent sellers from putting extra costs into the sale price to fund the buyer's closing expenses or down payment through an inflated price. This could allow buyers to qualify for a higher loan amount than they can afford.
  2. Prevent undue pressure on appraisal: Excessive seller contributions could place unnecessary stress on the appraiser to over-appraise the home's value for the deal to work. FHA wants assessments to reflect actual fair market value.
  3. Control loan risk: By capping contributions, the FHA reduces the perceived risk of buyers getting funds for their down payment or closing costs because they lack sufficient assets to cover them. This ensures buyers have actual "skin in the game."
  4. FHA limits aim to prevent predatory lending practices, ensure affordable loans based on the actual property's true value, and reduce default risk. Seller contributions within set parameters help buyers while still meeting responsible lending standards.

Common FHA-Allowed Seller Contributions

The FHA allows a few common types of financial contributions from sellers to buyers within defined limits:

Closing Costs: The seller can pay toward the buyer's closing fees and prepaid items. This can include origination costs, appraisal, credit report, taxes, insurance, etc.

Discount on Price: The seller may agree to lower the home price to reduce the buyer's down payment and loan amount effectively.

Payment of HOA Fees: The seller can pay HOA assessments and transfer fees on the buyer's behalf as part of the contract.

Property Repairs: Instead of lowering the price, the seller may opt to complete repairs requested by the buyer after the home inspection using their funds.

Gift Letter: The seller may provide a gift letter stating they are gifting funds to pay the buyer's closing costs. This is less common than the other options.

FHA buyers may utilize one or a combination of these typical seller contributions within the maximum limits of FHA guidelines. Specific limits depend on the loan-to-value ratio, as explained next.

FHA Maximum Seller Contribution

FHA loans, which the Federal Housing Administration backs, come with specific limits on the amount of contributions a seller can make towards the buyer's closing costs. This is known as the Maximum Seller Contribution. The current limit for a single-family home is 6% of the purchase price.

So, if the house costs $200,000, the maximum amount the seller can contribute towards the buyer's closing costs is $12,000. Keep in mind that this limit is in place to prevent sellers from artificially inflating the price of the home to cover the buyer's closing costs. Both buyers and sellers need to know the maximum seller contribution when negotiating a deal.

Seller Contribution Documentation

FHA loans require documentation that any seller contributions are within the prescribed limits. Here are critical documentation needs:

Gift letter: If the seller's contribution is a gift, they must provide a signed letter confirming they do not expect repayment. The gift amount should be clearly stated.

Addendum to the contract: All seller contributions must be captured in writing as part of the buyer's and seller's purchase agreement via addition or amendment.

HUD-1 form: The final settlement statement, or HUD-1, must detail any credits from the seller and confirm compliance with FHA guidelines.

Properly documenting seller concessions is critical. Undisclosed or excessive contributions outside FHA limits can delay loan approval or cause a denial.

How Seller Contributions Impact Other Aspects of FHA Loans

When receiving seller assistance, buyers should also keep these impacts in mind:

Down payment: FHA has a minimum down payment of 3.5% for most loan programs. Seller contributions can help buyers reach this amount, but they can't fund the entire down payment.

Gift funds: If receiving a gift, it must be documented as coming from an acceptable third party, like a relative, per standard FHA gift rules. The seller can't just "gift" their contribution without limits.

Monthly payments: Seller contributions reduce upfront costs but usually don't affect the monthly mortgage payment. The loan amount and interest rate determine prices.

Mortgage insurance: FHA mortgage insurance premiums are not reduced when receiving seller assistance to cover closing costs. They are based on the base loan amount.

Tax implications: Buyers may have lower property taxes if the seller lowers the price. But if they pay closing costs, property taxes will likely remain consistent.

The right strategy is to work with the lender early to disclose planned seller contributions and ensure they comply with FHA guidelines for your specific loan. This keeps the buyer compliant while smoothly utilizing the savings from the seller.


With proper planning and compliance, seller contributions can make an FHA loan more feasible for buyers short on cash. However, it is crucial to follow FHA rules to avoid jeopardizing mortgage approval.

Interested party contribution (seller concession)

Recommended Reading

FHA Seller Concessions: How to Use Them to Buy a House
FHA County Loan Limits for 2023: How Much Can You Borrow?Common Questions About FHA Loans
What Are FHA Loan Closing Costs and How Much Will You Pay?