Condo Financing – Do You Know the Changes?

Did you know HUD was about to make it much more difficult to buy a condo? Do you know what impact that might have on your ability to sell your condo if you own one?

HUD is about to make some critical changes to condominium financing, both purchase and refinance, that have the potential to effect 50% or more of condo owners. The information is long and technical but here are the nuts and bolts.

A Little History

Up until very recently, it was very easy to get an FHA loan for a condo. Either condos had sold in the development in the past, and had used FHA, and thus, so too could the new purchaser or anyone wishing to refinance. Or no one in that community had used FHA, in which case, a “spot approval” was given for an individual unit whereby, HUD, or a direct endorsing lender, could approve an individual unit in a community, and thereafter, any unit in the development could also use FHA.

HUD has now changed its policy in regards to how this will work. Rather than spot approving a community, HUD now requires every condo community to register with them. Many condo communities haven’t certified with HUD, or renewed their certification with HUD, for a variety of reasons. Many condo communities know that based on several factors, that their community wouldn’t be HUD certified. So they’ve buried their heads in the sand, to the detriment of the individual owners, many of whom know nothing about the storm that is no longer looming, but is in fact on their doorstep.

HUD has even granted extensions for condo communities to get in the documentation they need to be FHA compliant. Registration is absolutely crucial, as failure to register could mean an inability for FHA financing to be used in the purchase or refinance of units in the community. At the end of the registration waiver period, FHA’s condo requirements will revert back to those contained in ML 2009-46B, which outlines the criteria that condo projects must meet to receive FHA’s approval and describes the condominium project approval process.

What this means:

1. In most communities, no more than 30% of all units in the development will be eligible for FHA financing. Including current owners. If 30% or more of units in the community currently have FHA financing, no new FHA financing can be brought to the development. Further, those in the development with existing FHA loans may be unable to refinance their loans. This potentially could be the single biggest issue for some developments who have a significantly great number of units currently financed through FHA.

2. In new condo developments, 50% of the units in the development must be sold before FHA can be used to finance any of the purchases. So if you’re looking to get in on the “ground floor” of a new condo development you must use conventional financing until a minimum of 50% of the units are sold and the development receives FHA certification.

3. HUD will not allow more than 10% of the units to be owned by one investor to become certified. The builder of the community is counted as an investor in some situation. Thus, if a newer community were to stall out in sales, and the builder were to rent out more than 10% of the units, in order to ‘stay above water’ until the other units actually do sell, the entire project would become ineligible for FHA financing.

4. The community will need to be recertified every 2 years. Recertification is not automatically granted, however. HUD may look at factors including the condo association’s reserve account, pending lawsuits, the foreclosure rate as a whole, the percentage of investor held property, among others, to determine whether to recertify a community.

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