The FHA 203(k) Home Renovation Loan is perfect for HUD foreclosures, handy-man specials, or any home in need of repair. This is because it offers borrowers the ability to finance the cost of the rehabilitation of a property. And this loan can be used for either the borrower's current residence or a fixer-upper into which a borrower wishes to move. The eligible improvements allowed on FHA 203(k) loans are numerous, and many clients are pleasantly surprised at just how useful of a tool this loan can be. For instance, in addition to typical home improvement loan projects, the FHA 203(k) mortgage loan program can be used to convert a one-family dwelling to a two-, three-, or four-family dwelling.
The 203(k) Program is not offered directly by the FHA, meaning that one cannot apply directly to the government for the loan. Instead, it is offered to the public through FHA-approved lending institutions. It is to one of these institutions that a client applies. And it is one of these lending institutions that ultimately approves and funds the loan. The FHA sets the guidelines and insures the loans to facilitate liberal lending and help with the sale of these loans on the secondary market.
Originally utilized primarily for purchases, the FHA 203(k) loan program was created to help revitalize properties into which families could move and live. As time has passed, these loans have also been made available to existing homeowners seeking to refinance one to four family residences. These residences must be existing structures, at least 1 year old, and be used for residential purposes. This means that they must be owner-occupied. To lenders of traditional loans, these properties in need of repair are considered poor collateral on which they would prefer not to lend. To the FHA, which is committed to expanding home ownership through insurance and more liberal underwriting guidelines, such properties are not only acceptable but also desirable.
The standard FHA 203(k) loan includes purchases or refinances that involve more than $35,000 in repairs. It is available to augment an FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM), insure the mortgage on a single-family housing unit sold from the REO inventory of HUD, or to insure a mortgage that covers both repairs costs and the refinance of an existing mortgage. Once this $35,000 threshold is reached, it is necessary to involve both an appraiser and a consultant. The consultant prepares the work write-up and cost estimate. An architect, engineering or home inspection service then needs to inspect the property to ensure that:
- There are no rodents, dry-rot, termites and other infestation;
- There are no defects that will affect the health and safety of the occupants;
- The existing structural, heating, plumbing, electrical and roofing systems are adequate; and
- The completion of thermal protection upgrades (where necessary).
As such, on a standard FHA 203(k) loan, the process is often as follows:
- Contact lender for pre-approval
- Locate property & make offer
- Offer accepted
- Home inspection
- FHA 203K consultancy
- Architectural drawings
- Contractor bids & contractor selection
- Appraisal Loan submission & underwriting
- Underwriting conditions cleared
- Loan closing
- Repair begins Final inspection / Title Closeout
The easiest and quickest version of the program is the FHA 203K Streamline. This allows a home buyer or homeowner to finance up to $35,000 of home repairs in the purchase or refinance of a home. It does not involve HUD 203K Consultants or architects. This is because the Streamline is intended to facilitate uncomplicated rehabilitation or improvements to a home for which plans, consultants, engineers and/or architects are not required. The Streamlined (k) program includes discretionary improvements and/or the following:
- Repair/Replacement of roofs, gutters and downspouts
- Repair/Replacement/upgrade of existing HVAC systems
- Repair/Replacement/upgrade of plumbing and electrical systems
- Repair/Replacement of flooring
- Minor remodeling, such as kitchens, which does not involve structural repairs
- Painting, both exterior and interior
- Weatherization, including storm windows and doors, insulation, weather stripping, etc.
So, whether it is to finance an impossible to pass-up foreclosure deal, the addition of a new deck, the replacement of a bathroom, saving the purchase of a home that the bank turned down due to property condition or making a change that turns an ordinary home into your dream home, the FHA 203(k) Loan can help.