Many buyers (particularly first-time buyers) are short the cash they need for the down payment and closing costs. One way to overcome this cash shortage is for the seller to pay a portion of the closing costs. How much the seller is allowed to contribute depends on the type of mortgage loan.
On a conventional loan, the seller can only pay non-recurring costs. These do not include pre-paid items or items to be paid in advance (such as mortgage insurance or hazard insurance). The seller's contribution is limited to the amount the buyer is putting down. If the buyer puts 10 percent or more down, the seller may contribute up to 6 percent. If the buyer puts less than 10 percent, the most the seller may contribute is 3 percent.
On a VA loan, the seller may pay all the closing costs (this is known as a "VA-No-No" - the buyer pays no down payment and no closing costs). Sellers who agree to pay the closing costs often put a ceiling on the amount they will pay.
On a FHA loan, the seller may pay all the closing costs. However, the buyer must make a minimum 3.5 percent investment in the property - whether as part of the closing costs, a down payment or pre-paid items. The 3.5 percent can be from the buyers own funds or from a family member's gift.