FHA eases restrictions on condo mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is preparing to change its rules on condominiums (condos) that currently cause large numbers of units to be ineligible for low-downpayment insured mortgages. Under the FHA’s current regulations, only 25% of all condo projects potentially eligible for FHA-financing are approved.

The FHA’s condo mortgage requirements have denied many buyers mortgages, further aggravating the real estate recovery. To be eligible for FHA-financing, current controversial FHA limitations on condo mortgages require:

  • no more than 50% of the units in a building to be non-owner-occupied ; and
  • no more than 25% of the total floor space in a condo project to be for commercial use.

Further:

  • the FHA does not approve any condo projects where over 15% of the units are 30 days or more behind on fee payments to their homeowners’ association (HOA); and
  • buyers using FHA-insured mortgages cannot purchase individual condo units in a building unless all of the property meets FHA requirements.

Although the FHA defends these regulations as necessary to avoid losses, the administration has now decided to allow revisions that will permit units in more HOA projects to be financed with FHA-insured mortgages.

Whether or not the proposed changes will be enough to mitigate obstacles for large numbers of buyers and sellers is unknown. Still, prospective condo buyers welcome any loosening of current FHA restrictions, especially as FHA financing remains the primary mortgage choice for half of all condo buyers.

credit given to the first tuesday Journal Online — P.O. Box 5707, Riverside, CA 92517

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