Malibu Condo Sales Could Benefit From New FHA Financing Rules

by ritasimpson on September 23, 2012

in Money Talk

Here’s some encouraging news for condominium unit owners, sellers and buyers: The biggest source of funding for low-down-payment condo mortgages, the Federal Housing Administration, has revamped controversial rules that caused thousands of buildings across the country to lose their eligibility for FHA financing.

The revised guidelines, which were issued Sept. 13 and took effect immediately, should make it easier for large numbers of homeowner associations to seek certification by the FHA. The certification process is intended to provide the FHA, a government-run mortgage insurance agency, with key information about a development’s legal, physical and financial status. Without approval of an entire development — regardless of whether it’s a small complex in the suburbs or a massive high-rise in the center city — no individual unit can be financed or refinanced with an FHA mortgage.

The agency’s previous rules were criticized as heavy-handed, costly and not in touch with the economic realities of some parts of the country. For example, the rules prohibited FHA insurance of units in buildings where more than 25% of the total floor space was used for commercial or nonresidential purposes. Yet many condominiums in urban areas have lower floors devoted to retail stores and offices that generate revenues that help support the entire project. Many of those buildings suddenly found themselves ineligible for FHA financing for residents. The revised rules allow exceptions of up to 35% commercial use, and provide for additional case-by-case exceptions to 50% or higher.

Among other key rule changes:

• Greater flexibility on investor ownership. In existing developments, one or more investors are now allowed to own up to 50% of the total units provided that at least half of the units are owner-occupied. The previous rule required that no more than 10% of units could be owned by a single investor.

• The previous treatment of unpaid condo association dues was raised to 60 days from 30 days. Under the revised rule, condo communities where no more than 15% of unit owners are 60 days late on payment of dues can be approved for FHA loans.

• Clarification of certain insurance requirements that many communities found burdensome.

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