Little-known Program Eliminates Gift Letter Red Tape

You know about Bridal Registries at department stores, but have you ever heard of a Bridal Registry Account at a bank?

Under this little-known FHA program, a couple planning to marry can set up a Bridal Registry Savings Account at their own bank and use it to gather funds for the down payment on their FHA mortgage loan.

Instead of buying traditional wedding gifts, well-wishers can make deposits to the Bridal Registry Account. And they can do so without going through the red tape of writing gift letters, proving where they got the funds, etc. In addition, newlyweds who receive cash gifts can make the deposits themselves – without having to verify where those funds originated.

And it gets even better. The gift account is not limited just to couples who intend to marry, but according to an official HUD document, is “available for other situations where gifts are typically received by an individual or individuals.”

Graduation comes to mind. How about milestone anniversaries?

Bridal Registry funds do not have to be used for a down payment, and when they are, there is no requirement that the couple be married prior to the house purchase – or ever.

What are the requirements?

•    Open a savings account and name it “Bridal Registry Account” (or graduation, etc.)
•    Give friends and family banking information so they can make deposits.
•    No one with an interest in the purchase is allowed to participate – your real estate agent, for instance, may not deposit.
•    You provide your lender with bank statements showing the gift deposits.

In addition to FHA, some banks allow Bridal Registry Accounts for their conventional loans. In fact, banks were actually offering this plan before FHA added it.

So if you’re going conventional, check with your bank. You may also be able to use this program.

Here’s what is most surprising about the Bridal Registry program: It’s been in effect since 1996. Yet no one talks about it, or informs couples that it’s available. Neither FHA nor the banks advertise it – and few loan officers have ever heard of it.

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