Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FHA 203(K) Rehabilitation Loan, Is It For Me?

What is an FHA 203(k) Loan?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the 203(k) loan from FHA. It is easy to see why, just look at the name, when I think of rehabilitation I think of a long drawn out battle. If I close my eyes and imagine a property that I would need a rehabilitation loan for I picture an old dusty mansion with exposed pipes, a broken down roof with mold damage everywhere, the hard wood floors are worn, warped and need replacing, there are holes in the walls exposing daylight through the bricks and I picture the only thing salvageable being the foundation and load bearing walls. In truth, the 203(k) is perfect for that type of home, but it is also a good program for other types of homes as well. Let's examine some of the options available with this wonderful program.

What is the 203(k)... Really?

One of the questions I'm most commonly asked is "Do you think that this property will pass FHA inspection?". My reply is always the same, as much as people seem to believe that FHA has their own super strict inspection, the do not. There is no inspection required by FHA. They do require that the house is insurable, and sometimes the insurance company will require a 4 point inspection, but FHA doesn't require it. The only other "inspection" required is the appraisal and as long as there are no obvious reasons for the house not to be in good livable condition it passes FHA guidelines. Why do I bring that up? Because the first thought I get when I think about a "rehabilitation" loan is a loan for properties that don't pass FHA's "required inspections", but the 203(k) is so much more than that.

If I were naming the 203(k) loan product, I would have used a slightly different term than rehabilitation. I would have called it the 203(k) Home Improvement loan. This loan can be used to modernize a perfectly livable home, or to change the flooring in a house because you would prefer bamboo flooring to carpet, or tile flooring to hard-wood because you like it better. There is a minimum $5,000 repair threshold in order to do the loan, that has to be met on structural changed, such as remodeling a bathroom and kitchen or changing the flooring. After that 5,000.00 threshold is met, you can even include items like new appliances.

Another great part of this program not many understand is that the 203(k) can be done as a re-finance to a home you already own, this truly makes it a home improvement loan rather than a rehabilitation loan.

Limitations

Of course this is still an FHA loan, so only owner occupied properties are eligible, though the program seems like the perfect fit for the investor buying a foreclosure property that needs some updating, investors need not apply. However a person looking to buy a foreclosed home as their primary residence is the perfect candidate for this type of loan.

Also the process for a 203(k) loan does take longer than a traditional FHA loan, but when you do move in you can have the house completed to the way you like it, with the repairs done by certified professionals and the cost rolled up into one payment with your mortgage.

All of the work must be properly permitted and completed by professionals that are licensed and insured, so there is no getting Uncle Larry to do the work for you to save money. For the right borrower, the 203(k) loan is a fantastic product and should be seriously considered as an option for those not 100% satisfied with the house they may be purchasing. I for one, am very excited about the opportunity to start offering these loans to my clients again.

If you are a realtor with a house that has been on the market for a while and is in need of some updating, it would probably be a good idea to talk about the 203(k) option with your favorite mortgage professional

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