The small-town charm, up and coming restaurants and convenient commute of Chester County towns have been attracting more professionals to the area. For those looking to buy who aren’t ready to own a full-size single family house, condominiums are a fantastic option. Buying a condo can be a great first step to owning a home in Chester County. For current homeowners, condos can be convenient option for downsizing. Condominiums are often less expensive than single family homes. The smaller space can be easier to manage. Also, a Homeowners Association (HOA) that covers exterior maintenance and upkeep is a huge time saver.
If you’re planning to use an FHA mortgage to buy that condo, there’s key information you need to know about your condo community. After all, nothing’s more frustrating than falling head-over-heels for a condo only to learn that the community isn’t HUD-approved so you can’t use your FHA-backed loan for the purchase.
Let’s take a look at what FHA requires of Chester County condo buyers that differs from its single-family home requirements.
The basic FHA requirements
Lenders have a tough job, especially when it comes to buyers using an FHA-backed loan to purchase a condo. Not only must it determine if the borrower is a decent credit risk, but it must also take into account the risk of loaning money for a home that is governed by a homeowner association. And, regardless of your credit worthiness, if the HOA has problems, the lender and/or FHA will deny the loan.
Some HOA problems that FHA frowns upon include:
- A high number of rentals in the community. FHA rules demand that, at minimum, 50 percent of units must be occupied by the homeowner. In 2016, HUD changed the minimum to 35 percent, under certain circumstances. Learn more about those circumstances at HousingWire.
- The homeowner association fee delinquency rate must be lower than 15 percent of the budget.
- No investor/entity may own more than 50 percent of the units in the community, but only if half of the units in the community are owner occupied. So, if Warren Buffet or some random Saudi Prince decides to snatch up 52 percent of the homes in a condo community, the complex will be denied HUD approval.
- FHA will not guarantee loan repayment on a condo community that is in litigation. Once the litigation is settled (which can take years), the community can be considered for certification. Litigation examples run the gamut from the HOA suing the developer for construction defects to the famous cases of homeowners suing the HOA for the right to fly an American flag and the proper disposal of pet waste.
- The HOA’s cash reserves must be equal to or in excess of one-years’ worth of the association fees. FHA wants to see that the HOA has sufficient reserves to cover expensive repairs or replacements.
This is by no means the entire list of requirements, but represents some of those we most frequently come across. They are quite demanding – so much so that in 2013, about 60 percent of U.S. condo complexes seeking certification were denied, according to John McDermott of National Mortgage News.
Sure, it’s tedious, but the FHA process has advantages
Any home purchase requires a certain amount of due diligence. The buyer’s legal duty is to thoroughly inspect the property and the paperwork that goes with it, before going through with the purchase. Typically, the onus for this due diligence is on the buyer, but in the case of an FHA-backed loan for a condo, HUD does a lot of it for you.
Yes, you still need to read and understand every word on every document included in the HOA documents provided to you before you close on the home. While you’re trying to wrap your brain around covenants, conditions and restrictions, however, FHA will be poring over the financial solvency of the HOA. While they may just find something distasteful in these documents, knowing that they’re scrutinizing the HOA’s budget and other financials should bring you peace of mind.
Becoming HUD-certified isn’t a one-off task, either. The association must reapply every two years.
Finally, owning a home in a HUD-certified community makes it easier to sell down the line.
If you’re toying with the idea of buying a condo with that FHA-backed loan, do yourself a favor and check out HUD’s list of certified communities. Then, avoid looking at those that aren’t on the list. You’ll find the online database, here.
Ready to get started?
Industry experts strongly advise Chester County home buyers to use a professional Realtor to help you locate the perfect condo. Not only will buyers have quick access to the newest condo listings in Chester County, a Realtor will be knowledgeable about which communities in your area are HUD-approved- saving you a lot of hassle and headache in your search.
Powered by WPeMatico