Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

January 30, 2012

FHA 203k Loan Info

Many Lancaster County, PA home buyers find themselves torn when they are about to decide on which house to buy. We often here from potential clients “I LOVE the location, but we NEED to do something about that bathroom”; or “If it only had a finished basement…”; or “a home addition would make this our DREAM home”.

Remodeling by MBC Lancaster PA

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers a loan specifially for situations like the ones mentioned above – the 203k Rehab Loan. Here is some important answers and general info from the Housing and Urban Development’s website regarding eligibility, how to apply and all things 203k.

Program Overview

The purchase of a house that needs repair is often a catch-22 situation, because the bank won’t lend the money to buy the house until the repairs are complete, and the repairs can’t be done until the house has been purchased.

HUD’s 203(k) program can help you with this quagmire and allow you to purchase or refinance a property plus include in the loan the cost of making the repairs and improvements. The FHA insured 203(k) loan is provided through approved mortgage lenders nationwide. It is available to persons wanting to occupy the home.

The downpayment requirement for an owner-occupant (or a nonprofit organization or government agency) is approximately 3.5% of the acquisition and repair costs of the property.

For a list of lenders who are offering the 203(k) Rehabilitation Program, please see the 203(k) Lenders List. The interest rate and discount points on the loan are negotiable between the borrower and the lender.

Program Questions

What is the minimum amount of rehabilitation required for a non-streamlined Section 203(k) mortgage?

There is a minimum $5,000 requirement for the eligible improvements on the existing structure on the property. Minor or cosmetic repairs by themselves are unacceptable; however, they may be added to the minimum requirement. Under the Streamlined 203(k) program, a minimum repair/improvement cost requirement is not applicable.

What happens if the cost of the rehabilitation increases during the rehabilitation period?

Can the 203(k) mortgage amount be increased to cover the additional expenses? No. This emphasizes the importance of carefully selecting a contractor who will accurately estimate the cost of the improvements and satisfactorily complete the rehabilitation at or below the estimate.

Is there a time period on the rehabilitation construction period?

Yes, the Rehabilitation Loan Agreement contains three provisions concerning the timeliness of the work. The work must begin within 30 days of execution of the Agreement. The work must not cease prior to completion for more than 30 consecutive days. The work is to be completed within the time period shown in the Agreement (not to exceed six months); the lender should not allow a time period longer than that required to complete the work.

Does HUD always require a contingency reserve to cover unexpected cost increases?

Typically, yes. On properties older than 30 years and over $7,500 in rehabilitation costs, the cost estimate must include a contingency reserve. The reserve must be a minimum of ten (10) percent of the cost of rehabilitation; however, the contingency reserve may not exceed twenty (20) percent where major remodeling is contemplated. If utilities were not turned on for inspection, a minimum fifteen (15) percent is required.
Deck by MBC Lancaster County, PA

Eligible Improvements

Can a detached garage or another dwelling be placed on the mortgaged property?

Yes, under the Standard (k) program, however, a new addition must be attached to the existing dwelling, and must comply with HUD’s Minimum Property Standards in 24 CFR 200.926d and all local codes and ordinances.

Can a dwelling be converted to provide access for a disabled person?

Yes. A dwelling can be remodeled to improve the kitchen and bath to accommodate a wheelchair access. Wider doors and handicap ramps can also be included in the cost of rehabilitation.
2 story home addition by MBC in Lancaster County, PA.

Application Process

This describes a typical step-by-step application/mortgage origination process for a transaction involving the purchase and rehabilitation of a property. It explains the role of HUD, the mortgage lender, the contractor, the borrower, consultant, the plan reviewer, appraiser and the inspector.

A. Homebuyer Locates the Property.

B. Preliminary Feasibility Analysis. After the property is located, the homebuyer and their real estate professional should make a marketability analysis prior to signing the sales contract. The following should be determined:

1) The extent of the rehabilitation work required;

2) Rough cost estimate of the work; and

3) The expected market value of the property after completion of the work. Note: The borrower does not want to spend money for appraisals and repair specifications (plans), then discover that the value of the property will be less than the purchase price (or existing indebtedness), plus the cost of improvements.

C. Sales Contract is Executed. A provision should be included in the sales contract that the buyer has applied for Section 203(k) financing, and that the contract is contingent upon loan approval and buyer’s acceptance of additional required improvements as determined by HUD or the lender.

D. Homebuyer Selects Mortgage Lender. Call HUD Field Office for a list of lenders.

E. Consultant Prepares Work Write-up and Cost Estimate.

F. Lender Requests HUD Case Number. Upon acceptance of the architectural exhibits, the lender requests the assignment of a HUD case number, the plan reviewer, appraiser, and the inspector.

G. Fee Consultant Visits Property. The homebuyer and contractor (where applicable) meet with the fee consultant to ensure that the architectural exhibits are acceptable and that all program requirements have been properly shown on the exhibits.

H. Appraiser Performs the Appraisal.

I. Lender Reviews the Application The appraisal is reviewed to determine the maximum insurable mortgage amount for the property

J. Issuance of Conditional Commitment/Statement of Appraised Value. This is issued by the lender and establishes the maximum insurable mortgage amount for the property.

K. Lender Prepares Firm Commitment Application. The borrower provides information for the lender to request a credit report, verifications of employment and deposits, and any other source documents needed to establish the ability of the borrower to repay the mortgage.

L. Lender Issues Firm Commitment. If the application is found acceptable, the firm commitment is issued to the borrower. It states the maximum mortgage amount that HUD will insure for the borrower and the property.

M. Mortgage Loan Closing. After issuance of the firm commitment, the lender prepares for the closing of the mortgage. This includes the preparation of the Rehabilitation Loan Agreement. The Agreement is executed by the borrower and the lender in order to establish the conditions under which the lender will release funds from the Rehabilitation Escrow Account. Following closing, the borrower is required to begin making mortgage payments on the entire principal amount for the mortgage, including the amount in the Rehabilitation Escrow Account that has not yet been disbursed.

N. Mortgage Insurance Endorsement. Following loan closing, the lender submits copies of the mortgage documents to the HUD office for mortgage insurance endorsement. HUD reviews the submission and, if found acceptable, issues a Mortgage Insurance Certificate to the lender.

O. Rehabilitation Construction Begins. At loan closing, the mortgage proceeds will be disbursed to pay off the seller of the existing property and the Rehabilitation Escrow Account will be established. Construction may begin. The homeowner has up to six (6) months to complete the work depending on the extent of work to be completed. (Lenders may require less than six months.)

P. Releases from Rehabilitation Escrow Account. As construction progresses, funds are released after the work is inspected by a HUD-approved inspector. A maximum of four draw inspections plus a final inspection are allowed. The inspector reviews the Draw Request (form HUD-9746-A) that is prepared by the borrower and contractor. If the cost of rehabilitation exceeds $10,000, additional draw inspections are authorized provided the lender and borrower agree in writing and the number of draw inspections is shown on form HUD-92700, 203(k) Maximum Mortgage Worksheet.

Q. Completion of Work/Final Inspection. When all work is complete according to the approved architectural exhibits and change orders, the borrower provides a letter indicating that all work is satisfactorily complete and ready for final inspection. If the HUD-approved inspector agrees, the final draw may be released, minus the required 10 percent holdback. If there is unused contingency funds or mortgage payment reserves in the Account, the lender must apply the funds to prepay the mortgage principal.

Visit the HUD 203k FAQ page for more questions and answers.

If you’re looking for your own Lancaster County, PA contractor, look no further than MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC! Please, please, please contact us with any questions you have regarding home renovations, rehabs or 203k loans.

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