Understanding the \"Due on Sale\" Clause in a Mortgage

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When embarking on the journey of homeownership, understanding the nuances of your mortgage agreement is crucial for a smooth sailing experience. One important aspect that often puzzles homebuyers is the \"due on sale\" clause. This term may sound complex, but it\'s actually quite straightforward once broken down.

So, what exactly is a \"due on sale\" clause? In its simplest form, this clause is a provision within a mortgage contract that requires the borrower to pay off the entire remaining balance of the loan if the property is sold or otherwise transferred to a new owner. Essentially, it prevents the new owner from taking over the existing mortgage.

Why Do Lenders Include a \"Due on Sale\" Clause?

The primary reason lenders include a \"due on sale\" clause is to protect their financial interests. Interest rates fluctuate over time, and this clause ensures that lenders have the opportunity to issue a new mortgage at current market rates whenever a property changes hands. It eliminates the risk of being stuck with a long-term loan at a lower interest rate when they could be lending that money out at a higher rate.

The Legal Standing of the \"Due on Sale\" Clause

The \"due on sale\" clause gained nationwide recognition and enforceability through the 1982 Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act. This federal law allowed lenders to enforce due on sale provisions without restriction, ultimately giving them the upper hand in mortgage agreements.

How Does a \"Due on Sale\" Clause Affect Homeowners?

For homeowners, the \"due on sale\" clause means that you cannot transfer ownership of the property without first settling your mortgage debt. This can impact decisions regarding selling your home, gifting it to a family member, or transferring it into a trust. While such situations may seem limiting, they ensure that the lender\'s interests are safeguarded, maintaining the stability of the real estate market.

What Happens If You Violate the \"Due on Sale\" Clause?

Ignoring or violating the \"due on sale\" clause can have serious repercussions. If a lender discovers that a property has been transferred without paying off the existing mortgage, they have the right to demand immediate repayment of the full loan balance. This action is known as accelerating the loan. Failure to comply could result in foreclosure proceedings against the original borrower.

Are There Exceptions to the \"Due on Sale\" Clause?

Yes, there are certain exceptions where the \"due on sale\" clause might not be enforced. Some common instances include transferring the property to a spouse or child, transferring into an inter vivos trust where the borrower remains the beneficiary, or in situations where a junior lien is created on the property. Additionally, some lenders may be willing to negotiate or waive the clause under special circumstances.

Key Factors to Consider

When dealing with a \"due on sale\" clause, there are several factors to keep in mind:

1. Understand Your Contract: Always read through your mortgage agreement thoroughly to fully comprehend the \"due on sale\" clause and its implications.

2. Communication with Lenders: If you\'re considering transferring your property, discuss your plans with your lender to explore potential options or waivers.

3. Plan Ahead: Since a sale or transfer triggers repayment, have a strategy in place for refinancing or paying off the mortgage.

4. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on market interest rates; they can influence your decision to sell or transfer property based on how they compare to your current mortgage rate.


In conclusion, the \"due on sale\" clause is a standard mortgage provision that serves as an essential tool for lenders to control their loan portfolios and respond to the ever-changing economic landscape. As a homeowner or prospective buyer, being aware of this clause and its potential impact on your property transaction is fundamental for avoiding unwelcome surprises. Although somewhat restrictive, the clause also embodies the dynamic relationship between real estate markets and financing, emphasizing the need for vigilance and strategic planning when it comes to managing one\'s real estate assets. Whether you\'re considering purchasing a new home or contemplating a transfer of your current property, keep the \"due on sale\" clause in mind and engage openly with your lender to navigate the terrain successfully. By doing so, you can ensure a clearer path toward achieving your real estate goals while maintaining a harmonious relationship with your financial institution.

This article was contributed on May 14, 2024