What Is a Shared Appreciation Mortgage (SAM)?

A shared appreciation mortgage (SAM) is when the borrower or purchaser of a home shares a percentage of the appreciation in the home's value with the lender. In return for this additional compensation, the lender agrees to charge an interest rate which is below the prevailing market interest rate.

Understanding a Shared Appreciation Mortgage

A shared appreciation mortgage (SAM) differs from a regular mortgage during the resale of the property. With a standard mortgage, the borrower pays the lender the principal owed on the loan plus interest over a set number of years. When the borrower sells the house, the proceeds from the sale are used to pay off the mortgage if there is still a balance owed to the bank.

As an example, let's say a homeowner financed $300,000, and at the end of the mortgage, the borrower has paid off the loan. Let's assume the home's value has risen from $300,000 to $360,000 or 20%. The borrower keeps the 20% gain as well as the proceeds from the sale.

With a SAM, the borrower agrees to give a portion of the home's appreciated value to the lender when the borrower sells the house, as well as paying off the mortgage. The appreciated amount that's paid to the bank is called the contingent interest because you're giving the lender an interest in the appreciated value of the property. The contingent interest is agreed upon upfront and is due to the lender upon selling the property. The bank will usually offer a lower interest rate on a SAM.

Using our earlier example, let's say that the borrower entered into a shared-appreciation mortgage with the bank, which has a contingent clause of 25%. If you recall, the home's value appreciated from $300,000 to $360,000 for a $60,000 gain in value. Under the SAM guidelines, the homeowner would pay the bank 25% or $15,000 of the $60,000 appreciation in value.

Key Takeaways

  • A shared appreciation mortgage (SAM) is when the borrower or purchaser of a home shares a percentage of the appreciation in the home's value with the lender.
  • In return for this additional compensation, the lender agrees to charge an interest rate which is below the prevailing market interest rate.
  • A shared appreciation mortgage can have a phased-out clause after a set number of years.

Variations of Shared Appreciation Mortgages

Shared appreciation mortgages can have various contingents built into them. A SAM might include a phased-out clause whereby it could phase out entirely or reduce the percentage paid to the lender over time. The clause encourages the owner not to sell the property and pay back the mortgage loan. With some clauses, the contingent interest could phase out completely whereby the homeowner owes nothing at the time of sale.

Another variation of the phased-out clause can stipulate that the borrower pays a percentage of house price appreciation only if the home is sold within the first few years. A typical phased-out term would stipulate that 25% of the value appreciation be paid to the lender if the borrower sells within five years.

The ideal situation for the borrower would be to keep the house for five years and if there's an increase in value, sell it after the fifth year since the borrower would keep all of the price appreciation. However, there can be risks to the borrower. If a borrower doesn't sell the home and holds the property until the mortgage ends, they might still have to pay the bank their portion of the appreciated value—if there's no phase-out clause.

On the other hand, SAMs help lenders recoup any lost interest if a borrower sells the property before paying off the mortgage. Banks make money on the interest charged on a mortgage loan, and if a buyer sells the house, the bank loses any future interest payments. A shared appreciation mortgage helps offset some of the loss of interest on the loan if the property is sold.

Shared Appreciation Mortgages in Practice

Shared appreciation mortgages are sometimes used with real estate investors and house flippers. Flippers are those investors who purchase and renovate a property in the hopes of turning a profit. SAMs for flippers tend to work best in a rising real estate market. However, this type of home loan often has a time limit on repayment of the balance. Properties not sold by the deadline usually have refinancing of the remaining balance at the prevailing market rate.

Another use for a shared appreciation mortgage is when a mortgage loan exceeds the value of the home, or it's underwater. An underwater mortgage can occur if the housing market declined following the home purchase. The bank might offer a loan modification to reduce the mortgage debt to match the lower market value of the home. In return, the bank could ask for the loan to be modified to a shared appreciation mortgage.

However, there can be various tax issues with SAMs, whereby lenders might not get the same tax treatment for the appreciated gain as borrowers. As a result, it's important to contact a tax advisor or accountant to help sort out whether it's worth pursuing a shared appreciation mortgage.