Question:   What is a gift letter?

Answer:   If someone is willing to make a gift of funds in order for you to purchase a home, lenders will ask for a gift letter stating that no repayment of the "gift" is expected. The amount of the gift and the date funds were transferred should be spelled out in the letter, along with the donor's name, address, telephone number and relationship to the borrower.

In addition to the letter, a lender can ask for two or three months' worth of statements for the account where the down payment funds are located. If the money was recently placed into that account, the lender may ask where it came from and request verification of that source as well.

Gifts -- with the proper documentation -- can be from relatives, friends, an employer, church, municipality, or nonprofit organization. Lenders often have stricter restrictions on gifts from friends and relatives other than parents.

Also, if you put less than 20 percent down, some lenders may require that a portion of the down payment be your own cash, not a gift. If you want to use a gift as part of your down payment, check with individual lenders to learn the restrictions of specific private or government-insured mortgage programs.




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