Sunday, January 4, 2015

FHA's 203K Program Allows Borrower to Purchase Home and Finance Improvements in One Loan

In today's market with so many foreclosures and short sales, many homes do not meet the minimum FHA property guidelines. This means a traditional FHA loan (203B) is not available to borrowers that may be interested in the home. However, there is another FHA program called the 203K program that allows a borrower to finance the purchase of the home along with the costs of the improvements and/or repairs to get the home up to FHA guidelines. It requires only a 3.50% downpayment based on combining the purchase price and the cost of the needed repairs. Few lenders offer this specialized program yet it is a great way for buyers to purchase a home at a great price and finance repairs such as roof replacement, HVAC replacement or repair, kitchen remodel, flooring, etc... into a single loan to keep their payments down.

Here is a real world example:

A first time homebuyer is working with a realtor to find a home. Her realtor was familiar with the FHA 203K program and searched for homes that may provide a better value for her client as she was on a strict budget. She found a listing that had been on the market for over 200 days and was listed as "Cash Only Offers." The listing included this comment because the house needed a new roof, termite damage repairs and it was missing all of the sinks and toilets in the home. It was located in the neighborhood that client wanted to live but the homes were outside her budget. She looked at the home and was able to see the potential of the home and made an offer using FHA 203K financing. The seller accepted the offer and the buyer financed the price of home plus the costs of the repairs to get the home to FHA standards plus added an appliance package and flooring. The total cost of the home plus repairs was still less than the homes in the same market that did not need repairs yet were outside her budget. She closed on the home with her 3.50% down payment and the contractor began work. In a few short weeks, her lump of coal home was turned into her diamond. She was thrilled and loves her new home in a neighborhood she didn't think she could afford. As an added bonus, she knows the roof, sinks, toilets, appliances and flooring are all new.

How does the 203K loan process work?

The initial application is the same as a standard FHA loan and the borrower qualification requirements are the same. The difference is just about the property. When the buyer's home inspection is done, it is reviewed to better determine what repairs are needed to adhere to FHA standards. This gives everyone a good idea of the extent of the needed repairs. If any structural repairs are required, it will require a HUD consultant to do an inspection and write-up of the needed repairs and to monitor the project to its completion. If it is not structural (HVAC, roof, flooring, cabinets, appliances, plumbing, electrical), no HUD consultant is required as long as the repairs do not exceed $35,000.

The buyer gets bids from contractors for the required work and selects a contractor. The contractor then has to submit an application to be approved by the lender. The contractor's accepted bid is given to the FHA appraiser and the property is appraised based on the value of the home after the repairs are complete. Another benefit of the 203K is that the combined cost of the home and repairs can go up to 110% of the appraised value. This is particularly beneficial if some of the repairs are cosmetic and may not add directly to the value but to the marketability of the home. The appraisal, contractor approval and borrower's loan application is submitted to underwriting for approval.

Once the loan is fully approved, it goes to closing. At the time of closing, the seller is paid and the ownership is transferred to the buyer and the remaining funds are put in an escrow account for the repairs. Once the closing is complete, the contractor can begin the work based on the bid. When the work is complete, it is inspected and the contractor is paid from the escrow account.

This is a summarization of the process, but the whole idea is there is a way to purchase homes in the marketplace that are not perfect with a minimum downpayment. This benefits the buyer, seller and neighborhood.

Craig Weeks has been in the mortgage business for over 22 years. He specializes in government loans, including FHA and VA. He works for a major bank that currently has about a 25% national market share of mortgages.
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