Ultimate Manual For First-Time Home Buyers

Seller Credits at Closing

Seller offering seller credits

In this blog post, we will delve into seller credits and discuss their potential benefits for buyers. We’ll explore the definition and purpose of seller credits and seller concessions. Finally, we will uncover essential strategies for effectively negotiating seller credits

Seller Credits

Seller credits are financial arrangements in real estate transactions where the seller provides credit to the buyer.

You’re probably wondering: “how does seller credit work?”

Before we get there, I’ll like to raise the term “Seller concession.” If you’ve heard of seller credits, then chances are that you have heard of seller concessions.

Seller Concessions Vs Seller Credits

Seller credits are a type of seller concession. Seller credits fall under the broader category of seller concessions, as they involve the seller providing financial assistance or incentives to the buyer.

Seller Concessions

Seller concessions mean that the seller is conceding to something.

To concede is to yield. To surrender. To give in to a demand or argument.

In real estate, seller concessions involve the seller compromising on covering costs or expenses usually borne by the buyer. These concessions reduce the buyer’s financial burden and help them purchase the property. They demonstrate the seller’s goodwill and accommodation of the buyer’s needs during the transaction.

Types of Seller Concessions

The specific types of seller concessions offered can vary. It can vary based on buyer-seller negotiations and market conditions.

  1. Seller Credits
  2. Payment of Closing Costs: One of the most common types of seller concessions is when the seller agrees to pay a portion or all of the buyer’s closing costs. Closing costs include expenses such as loan origination fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, escrow fees, and prepaid property taxes.
  3. Repair Allowances: This involves the seller providing a credit or allowance to the buyer to address necessary repairs identified during the home inspection. Instead of making the repairs themselves, sellers allow buyers to use the concession for repairs after the purchase. This can be particularly useful for buyers who lack the upfront funds to handle immediate repairs.
  4. Upgrades or Improvement Credits: Sellers may also offer concessions in the form of credits for home upgrades or improvements. For example, if the buyer wishes to replace outdated appliances or upgrade the flooring, the seller can provide a credit to offset some of the costs. This allows the buyer to personalize or enhance the property according to their preferences without bearing the full financial burden.
  5. Home Warranty Coverage: Another common seller concession is offering a home warranty as part of the sale. A home warranty provides coverage for major systems and appliances in the home, typically for a specified period after the purchase. By including a home warranty, sellers provide buyers with added peace of mind and financial protection against unexpected repair or replacement costs.
  6. Homeowner Association (HOA) Fees: In some cases, sellers may agree to pay a portion of the buyer’s HOA fees for a specific period as a concession. This can help reduce the buyer’s ongoing expenses and make the property more affordable, particularly if the HOA fees are substantial.
  7. Price Reduction: While not always considered a traditional seller concession, a price reduction can effectively function as one. In this scenario, the seller lowers the listing price of the home to accommodate the buyer’s financial needs or to account for repairs or upgrades that the buyer will need to undertake. By reducing the price, the seller indirectly contributes to the buyer’s purchasing power and affordability.

Why Do Sellers Offer Concessions?

Sellers offer concessions for a variety of reasons. Below is a list of some possible reasons. To:

  • Attract buyers
  • Facilitate the sale
  • Expedite the transaction
  • Increase their negotiating power

To Attract Buyers

In competitive markets with limited inventory, seller concessions can give sellers a competitive advantage. By offering financial assistance or other incentives, sellers attract more interested buyers. This increased demand creates a favorable environment for sellers. It increases the chances of a successful sale as buyers vie for the limited inventory.

To Facilitate the Sale

Buyers have to come up with not only the down payment but also the closing cost. Due to these hefty costs, a buyer’s finances might be stretched thin. At that point, they may contemplate pulling back from buying a house. Seller concessions can be immensely helpful for these buyers. By offering concessions, sellers can help alleviate the financial burden on buyers and facilitate the sale. This can be particularly beneficial in situations where the buyer’s ability to complete the purchase is contingent on receiving financial assistance.

To Expedite the Transaction

Seller concessions expedite transactions by addressing obstacles and concerns. For instance, when the home inspection reveals necessary repairs, lenders may demand completion before issuing a clear to close. If the buyer resists taking responsibility for repairs, it can delay the closing. However, the seller can offer concessions to cover the repair costs. This removes a potential barrier and paves the way for a smooth closing.

To Increase Their Negotiating Power

Negotiating power allows individuals to pursue and achieve desired outcomes. People are more inclined to work with those who accommodate their needs. Sellers who offer concessions show flexibility and willingness to meet buyer needs. This can lead to more favorable negotiations for the seller, including price, contingencies, and timelines.

Why Buyers Should Care About Seller Concessions

Seller concessions are a good thing. And who doesn’t like good things? Here are 5 reasons you should care. Seller concessions and seller credits:

  1. Reduce the financial burden associated with purchasing a home.
  2. Make home ownership more affordable.
  3. Allow you to preserve your cash reserves for other purposes, such as future home improvements.
  4. Can increase your negotiating power. You don’t know what you don’t know. Knowing that sellers offer concessions and the types can help you negotiate more favorable terms.

Disadvantages of Seller Concessions

While seller concessions can be beneficial, there are a few things to consider. This is because seller concessions can affect the appraisal value. First, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the concessions, including any limitations or caps on the amount. Additionally, keep in mind that accepting concessions could affect the overall sale price and potentially impact the appraisal process. It’s crucial to carefully evaluate the long-term financial implications, such as potentially higher mortgage payments. Remember, it’s essential to strike a balance between the benefits of the concessions and the potential drawbacks.

How do Seller Credits Work?

Seller credits can be applied towards certain costs or expenses associated with the purchase of the property. This can include:

  1. Closing Costs: Seller credits can be used to offset a portion or all of the buyer’s closing costs, which typically include fees associated with loan origination, appraisal, title insurance, and attorney services.
  2. Prepaid Expenses: Seller credits can be applied towards prepaid expenses such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, or prepaid interest.
  3. Purchase Price Reduction: Instead of directly paying for closing costs or other expenses, the seller may agree to reduce the purchase price of the property by an agreed-upon amount.
  4. Repairs or Upgrades: In some cases, seller credits can be used to address necessary repairs or desired upgrades identified during the home inspection.

How are Seller Credits Documented?

Seller credits are typically documented in the purchase agreement. The specific details regarding seller credits are included in a section known as the “Seller Concessions” or “Seller Credits” section of the purchase agreement. Here’s how seller credits are typically documented:

  1. Amount: The purchase agreement will specify the exact amount of seller credits agreed upon between the buyer and the seller. This amount represents the funds that the seller agrees to contribute towards the buyer’s closing costs or other expenses.
  2. Purpose: The purchase agreement will state the purpose for which the seller credits are intended. This could include covering closing costs, prepaid expenses (such as property taxes or homeowner’s insurance), or specific repairs or upgrades agreed upon during the negotiation process.
  3. Source of Funds: The purchase agreement may require the seller to disclose the source of the funds for the seller credits. This is to ensure that the seller has the financial means to fulfill their obligation.
  4. Conditions and Contingencies: The purchase agreement may outline any conditions or contingencies related to the seller credits. For example, the agreement may specify that the seller credits are contingent upon the successful completion of a home inspection or appraisal. These contingencies ensure that the buyer receives the agreed-upon seller credits only if certain conditions are met.
  5. Closing Disclosure or Settlement Statement: The purchase agreement may reference the Closing Disclosure or Settlement Statement, which is a detailed document prepared by the lender or closing agent that itemizes all the financial aspects of the transaction. The seller credits will be listed on this document, clearly stating the amount to be credited toward the buyer’s expenses.

Restrictions on Seller Credits

When it comes to seller credits, be aware that certain loan programs may impose restrictions on the amount that can be offered by the seller. These restrictions are in place to maintain fairness and prevent potential abuse or excessive concessions in real estate transactions.

Different loan programs, such as conventional loans, FHA loans (Federal Housing Administration), VA loans (Department of Veterans Affairs), and USDA loans (United States Department of Agriculture), may have varying guidelines regarding seller credits. These guidelines are typically established by the lending institution or government agency responsible for administering the loan program.

Here are some important points to consider regarding loan program restrictions on seller credits:

  1. Maximum Percentage or Cap: Some loan programs may impose a maximum percentage or cap on the total amount of seller credits that can be applied. For example, a loan program may limit seller credits to 3% of the purchase price. This means that regardless of the negotiated amount, the seller can contribute up to the specified percentage toward the buyer’s closing costs or other expenses.
  2. Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: The loan-to-value ratio, which compares the loan amount to the appraised value of the property, can also impact the allowable seller credits. Certain loan programs may restrict seller credits based on the LTV ratio. For instance, a program might allow higher credits for lower LTV ratios, but as the LTV ratio increases, the allowable seller credits may be reduced.
  3. Specific Expenses: Some loan programs may limit the use of seller credits to certain expenses. For example, they may allow credits to be applied only toward closing costs but not for prepaid items, such as property taxes or homeowner’s insurance. Understanding these restrictions can help buyers plan their finances accordingly and ensure that they have the necessary funds available for expenses not covered by seller credits.
  4. Investor Restrictions: In certain cases, loan programs may have specific restrictions on seller credits when the property is being purchased by an investor rather than an owner-occupant. Investors, who typically have different financing needs and financial capabilities, may face more stringent limitations or may be completely ineligible for seller credits.

Work closely with your loan officer or mortgage broker to understand the specific guidelines and restrictions associated with their chosen loan program.

Tips for Negotiating Seller Credits

Negotiating seller credits can be a valuable strategy to reduce your upfront expenses. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Research and Understand the Market:
    • Familiarize yourself with the local real estate market and recent comparable sales in the area.
    • Gain insights into whether seller credits are common or expected in your market. This knowledge will help you set realistic expectations during negotiations.
  2. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan:
    • Obtain pre-approval for a mortgage loan before beginning your home search. This shows sellers that you are a serious and qualified buyer.
    • Having pre-approval can strengthen your negotiation position when requesting seller credits, as sellers may view you as a more reliable buyer.
  3. Work with a Knowledgeable Real Estate Agent:
    • Partner with an experienced real estate agent who has expertise in your target market. They can provide valuable guidance throughout the negotiation process.
    • Leverage your agent’s knowledge and negotiation skills to help you navigate the complexities of seller credits and advocate for your interests.
  4. Determine Your Financial Needs:
    • Assess your financial situation and determine how much assistance you require with closing costs or other expenses.
    • Calculate a reasonable amount of seller credits that would help alleviate your financial burden without compromising the seller’s interests.
  5. Make a Competitive Offer:
    • Structure your initial offer to be attractive to the seller, taking into consideration the market conditions and the property’s value.
    • Ensure that your offer remains competitive even if you are requesting seller credits. This can strengthen your position during negotiations.
  6. Justify the Request:
    • Clearly communicate why you are requesting seller credits. Explain your financial circumstances, such as limited savings or the desire to allocate funds towards home improvements or repairs.
    • Highlight any other strengths of your offer, such as a flexible closing timeline or willingness to accommodate the seller’s needs.
  7. Consider Trade-Offs:
    • Be open to negotiating trade-offs beyond seller credits. For example, you may propose a slightly higher purchase price or agree to certain terms favorable to the seller in exchange for increased seller credits.
  8. Flexibility in Timing:
    • Be flexible with the timing of the seller credits. You can request that the credits be applied at closing or even spread out over a period of time, depending on your needs and the seller’s willingness.
  9. Maintain a Positive and Respectful Approach:
    • Keep negotiations professional and respectful. Avoid making demands or using aggressive tactics that may jeopardize the negotiation process.
    • Building rapport with the seller can go a long way in fostering goodwill and increasing the likelihood of a successful negotiation.

Remember, negotiating seller credits is a dynamic process that requires flexibility and effective communication.


Seller credits are a powerful tool for buyers. By understanding what seller credits are, their significance, limitations, and effective negotiation strategies, you have equipped yourself with valuable knowledge to confidently engage in real estate transactions. Remember, seller credits can provide financial relief and make a significant difference in covering closing costs and other expenses. However, it’s essential to assess your financial goals, weigh the trade-offs, and collaborate with professionals throughout the process.


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Jane Doe

Dedicated to providing the ultimate guide for first-time home buyers.