DEFINITION of 'Due-On-Sale Clause'

A provision in a mortgage contract that requires the mortgage to be repaid in full upon a sale or conveyance of partial or full interest in the property that secures the mortgage. Mortgages with a due-on-sale clause are not assumable. This clause helps protect lenders against below-market interest rates.

BREAKING DOWN 'Due-On-Sale Clause'

A due-on-sale clause helps protect the lender, or the ultimate mortgage holder, from the risk that the mortgage may be transferred to the new owner of a property when the rate on the mortgage is below current market interest rates. This would extend the life of the mortgage. The holders of a below-market-interest-rate mortgage – or a mortgage-backed security, asset-backed security or collateralized debt obligation backed by a below-market-interest-rate mortgage – generally favor early retirement of that mortgage.

Because of the due-on-sale clause, when you sell your house you cannot transfer your mortgage to the buyer. You must use the sale proceeds to pay off your mortgage, and the buyer must obtain a new mortgage. If it were not for the due-on-sale clause, the mortgage that could be assumed with a home purchase might be part of homebuyers’ purchasing decisions.

Under the 1982 Garn-St. Germain Act, lenders cannot enforce the due-on-sale clause in certain situations even though ownership has changed. If there is a divorce or legal separation and ownership between spouses changes (for example, the property was jointly owned and becomes owned by a single spouse), the lender cannot enforce the due-on-sale clause. The same is true if the owner transfers the property to his or her children, if a borrower dies and the property is transferred to a relative, or if the property is transferred to a living trust and the borrower is the trust’s beneficiary.

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