Selling a House With a Mortgage: Can You Do It?

By Alene Laney · March 24, 2024 · 7 minute read

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Selling a House With a Mortgage: Can You Do It?

It’s entirely possible to sell a house with a mortgage. In fact, it’s common to sell a property that still has a mortgage, because most people don’t stay in a home long enough to pay off the home loan.

With the help of your lender and real estate agent, you can move ahead and sell a house with a mortgage. Yes, there’s a bit of paperwork involved, but settling your mortgage at the closing table shouldn’t prove too challenging.

Here’s everything you need to know about selling a home with a mortgage.

What Happens to Your Mortgage When You Sell Your Home?

When you sell your home, the amount you contracted with the buyer is put toward your mortgage and settlement costs before any excess funds are wired to you. Here’s how it works for different transaction types.

A Typical Sale

In a typical sale, homeowners will put their current home on the market before buying another one. Assuming the homeowners have more value in their home than what is owed on their mortgage, they can take the proceeds from the sale of the home and apply that money to the purchase of a new home.

A Short Sale

A short sale is one when you cannot sell the home for what you owe on the mortgage and need to ask the lender to cover the difference (or short).

In a short sale transaction, the mortgage lender and servicer must accept the buyer’s offer before an escrow account can be opened for the sale of the property. This type of mortgage relief transaction can be lengthy (up to 120 days) and involves a lot of paperwork. It’s not common in areas where values are falling or at times when the real estate market is dropping.

When You Buy Another House

There are several roads you can take when you buy another house before selling your own. You may have the option of:

•   Holding two mortgages. If your lender approves you for a new mortgage without selling your current home, you may be able to use this option when shopping for a mortgage. However, you won’t be able to use funds from the sale of your current home for the purchase of your next home.

•   Including a home sale contingency in your real estate contract. The home sale contingency states that the purchase of the new home depends upon the sale of the old home. In other words, the contract is not binding unless you find a buyer to purchase the old home. The two transactions are often tied together. When the sale of the old home closes, it can immediately fund the down payment and closing costs of the new home (depending on how much there is, of course). Keep in mind that a home sale contingency can make your offer less competitive in a hot real estate market where sellers are not willing to wait around for a buyer’s home to sell.

•   Getting a bridge loan. A bridge loan is a short-term loan used to fund the costs of obtaining a new home before selling the old home. The interest rates are usually pretty high, but most homebuyers don’t plan to hold the loan for long.

💡 Quick Tip: You deserve a more zen mortgage. Look for a mortgage lender who’s dedicated to closing your loan on time.

Selling a House With a Mortgage: Step by Step

Here are the steps to take to sell a home that still has a mortgage.

Get a Payoff Quote

To determine exactly how much of the mortgage you still owe, you’ll need a payoff quote from your mortgage servicer. This is not the same thing as the balance shown on your last mortgage statement. The payoff amount will include any interest still owed until the day your loan is paid off, as well as any fees you may owe.

The payoff quote will have an expiration date. If the outstanding mortgage balance is paid off before that date, the amount on the payoff quote is valid. If it is paid after, sellers will need to obtain a new payoff quote.

Determine Your Home Equity

Equity is the difference between what your property is worth and what you owe on your mortgage (your payoff quote is most accurate). If your home is worth $400,000 and your payoff amount on the existing mortgage is $250,000, your equity is $150,000.

When you sell your home, you gain access to this equity. Your mortgage, any second mortgage like a home equity loan, and closing costs are settled, and then you are wired the excess amount to use how you like. Many homeowners opt to use part or all of the money as a down payment on their next home.

Secure a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can walk you through the process of selling a home with a mortgage and clear up questions on other mortgage basics. Your agent will be particularly valuable if you need to buy a new home before selling your current home.

Set a Price

With your agent, you will look at factors that affect property value, such as comparable sales in your area, to help you set a price. There are different price strategies you can review with your agent to bring in more buyers to bid on your home.

Accept a Bid and Open Escrow

After an open house and showings, you may have an offer (or a handful). Consider what you value in accepting an offer. Do you want a fast close? The highest price? A buyer who is flexible with your moving date? A buyer with mortgage preapproval?

You may also choose to continue negotiating with prospective buyers. Once you’ve selected a buyer and have signed the contract, it’s time to go into escrow.

Review Your Settlement Statement

You’ll be in escrow until the day your transaction closes. An escrow or title agent is the intermediary between you and the buyer until the deal is done. While the loan is being processed, title reports are prepared, inspections are held, and other details to close the deal are being worked out.

Three days before, you’ll see a closing disclosure (if you’re buying a house at the same time) and a settlement statement. The settlement statement outlines fees and charges of the real estate transaction and pinpoints how much money you’ll net by selling your home.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

Selling a House With a Negative Equity

Negative equity means that the value of an asset (such as a home) is less than the balance due on the loan against it. Say you purchased a property for $400,000 with a $380,000 loan, but then the real estate market took a nosedive. Your property is now worth $350,000, less than the amount of the mortgage.

If you have negative equity in the home and need to sell it, it is possible to sell if you come up with the difference yourself.

In this scenario (an alternative to a short sale), you pay the difference between the amount left on your mortgage note and the purchase offer at closing. So in the example above, if you sold the house for $350,000, at the closing, you would need to pay the loan holder an additional $30,000 to clear the debt.

The Takeaway

Selling a house with a mortgage is common. The buyer pays the sales price, and that money is used to pay off your remaining mortgage, your closing costs, and any second mortgage. The rest is your profit.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


Who is responsible for the mortgage on the house during the sale?

The homeowner is responsible for continuing to pay the mortgage until paperwork is signed on closing day.

What happens if you sell a house with a HELOC?

When you sell a home that has a home equity line of credit with a balance, a home equity loan, or any other kind of lien against the house, that will need to be paid off before the remaining equity is paid out to you.

What happens to escrow money when you sell your house?

Your mortgage escrow account will be closed, and any money left will be refunded to you.

Can I make a profit on a house I still owe on?

Yes. You can make a profit if the amount you sell your house for is greater than the amount you owe on it, less closing and settlement costs.

Can I have two mortgages at once?

Yes, you can have two mortgages at once if the lender approves it.

Photo credit: iStock/Beton studio

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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