FHA Weighs Rule Reversal, Boon for Condo Sales?

The Federal Housing Administration is reportedly considering revising rules that many in the real estate industry have called overly strict and that have left many condo units ineligible for FHA’s low-downpayment mortgages.

For example, one sticking point under the FHA’s rules has been that “individual condo units cannot be sold to buyers using FHA-insured mortgages unless the property as a whole has been approved for financing,” The Wall Street Journal reports. However, condo association boards are increasingly opting not to obtain recertification of their buildings for FHA loans due to its tightened regulations against condo units.

FHA’s regulations “have had an enormous impact on individuals,” says Moe Veissi, president of the National Association of REALTORS®. More condo unit residents are finding they are unable to sell their unit because the condo board hasn’t obtained approval from FHA, Veissi told The Wall Street Journal. This then can have a roll-over affect that negatively impacts the price of condo units in the buildings then.

Half of all condo buyers tend to use FHA mortgages, and it’s an important source of lending for first-time and minority home buyers, Christopher L. Gardner, managing member of FHA Pros, a consulting firm that helps condo boards obtain FHA approvals, told The Wall Street Journal.

FHA officials say they are willing to reconsider some of their rules that have raised such an outcry among condo owners, lenders, and real estate professionals. For example, one rule the FHA is reportedly reconsidering is its stance on non-owner occupancy. As of now, FHA requires that no more than 50 percent of the units in a condo building be non-owner occupies. “This rule alone has made large numbers of condominiums in hard-hit markets ineligible for FHA financing, where investors have purchased units for cash to turn into rentals,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

FHA also is reportedly revisiting its condo rules on how many owners in a building can be delinquent on their fees. As of now, FHA refuses to approve a project if more than 15 percent of the condo units are 30 days or more late on their condo association fees, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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