Federal Housing Administration - Q & A 
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Q: How does FHA work?
A: The Community Home Buyers loan program is sponsored by the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly referred to as Fannie Mae, and administered through participating direct lenders.

Fannie Mae's Community Home Buyers program has an income cap of 120 percent of the area's median income. In addition, the borrower must attend a seminar on home ownership and the home buying process.

It is not geared only for first-time home buyers, unlike many of the other low-down -payment programs on the market.

This loan program allows for 97 percent financing. The borrower may put as little as 3 percent of his or her own money, with the remaining 2 percent coming in the form of a family gift or loan from a government or nonprofit agency.

For more information, call Fannie Mae at (800)732-6643; fanniemae.com.


Q: Which lenders offer FHA loans?
A: Lenders who handle Federal Housing Administration loans typically advertise in the Yellow Pages under "real estate loans" and in the real estate sections of newspapers. FHA also supplies limited lists of approved lenders. For general qualifications and program details, see the FHA brochure, "How to Qualify for an FHA Loan." To order, write the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Printing Branch, Room B-100, 451 7th St., Washington, DC 20410; (800) 767-7468.



Q: Do FHA loans require impound accounts?
A: Yes, according to the "Realty Bluebook," 33rd Ed., Dearborn Financial Publishing, Chicago; 2003: "Under FHA financing it is the lender's responsibility to ascertain that property taxes and hazard insurance premiums are paid when due. Lenders, therefore, will insist that the monthly payments include proportionate amounts for taxes and insurance."



Q: How do you find government-repossessed homes?
A: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages insured by HUD. These properties are available for sale to both homeowner-occupants and investors.

You can only purchase HUD-owned properties through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker's commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

Down payments vary depending on whether the property is eligible for FHA insurance. If not, payments range from the conventional market's 5 to 20 percent.

One caution. HUD homes are sold "as is," meaning limited repairs have been made made but no structural or mechanical warranties are implied.



Q: What are rates for FHA and VA loans?
A: There are no set interest rates for FHA and VA loans. The FHA stopped regulating rates in 1983 and the VA followed suit soon after. Shop around for the best rate.



Q: Can I get a HUD home for as little as $100 down?
A: If you are strapped for cash and looking for a bargain, you may be able to buy a foreclosure property acquired by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for as little as $100 down.

With HUD foreclosures, down payments vary depending on whether the property is eligible for FHA insurance. If not, payments range from 5 to 20 percent. But when the property is FHA-insured, the down payment can go much lower.

Each offer must be accompanied by an "earnest money" deposit equal to 5 percent of the bid price, not to exceed $2,000 but not less than $500.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also offers foreclosure properties which can be purchased directly from the VA often well below market value and with a down payment amount as low as 2 percent for owner-occupants. Investors may be required to pay up to 10 percent of the purchase price as a down payment. This is because the VA guarantees home loans and often ends up owning the property if the veteran defaults.

If you are interested in purchasing a VA foreclosure, call 1-800-827-1000 or visit foreclosurefreesearch.com for a current listing. About 100 new properties are listed every two weeks.

You should be aware that foreclosure properties are sold "as is," meaning limited repairs have been made but no structural or mechanical warranties are implied.



Q: Are there programs for fixer-uppers?
A: If you need a home loan to buy a "fixer-upper" and remodel it, look at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 203(K) loan program. The program is designed to facilitate major structural rehabilitation of houses with one to four units that are more than one year old. Condominiums are not eligible.

A 203(K) loan is usually done as a combination loan to purchase a "fixer-upper" property "as is" and rehabilitate it, or to refinance a temporary loan to buy the property and do the rehabilitation. It can also be done as a rehabilitation-only loan.

Investors no longer may participate - only owner-occupants. Owner-occupants are required to come up with only 3 to 5 percent. HUD requires that a minimum of $5,000 be spent on improvements.

Two appraisals are required. Plans and specifications for the proposed work must be submitted for architectural review and cost estimation. Mortgage proceeds are advanced periodically during the rehabilitation period to finance the construction costs.



Q: Are there government programs for rehab?
A: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 203 (K) rehabilitation loan program is designed to facilitate major structural rehabilitation of houses with one to four units that are more than one year old. Condominiums are not eligible.

The 203(K) loan is usually done as a combination loan to purchase a fixer-upper property "as is" and rehabilitate it, or to refinance a temporary loan to buy the property and do the rehabilitation. It can also be done as a rehabilitation-only loan.

Plans and specifications for the proposed work must be submitted for architectural review and cost estimation. Mortgage proceeds are advanced periodically during the rehabilitation period to finance the construction costs.

For a list of participating lenders, call HUD at (202) 708-2720.

If you are a veteran, loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also can be used to buy a home, build a home, improve a home or to refinance an existing loan. VA loans frequently offer lower interest rates than ordinarily available with other kinds of loans. To qualify for a loan, the first step is to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility.

Another program is the Federal Housing Administration's Title 1 FHA loan program.

Resources:

  • "Rehab a Home With HUD's 203(K)" brochure, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.; brochure online

Q: Do you have to buy HUD homes through a realty agent?
A: You can only purchase a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development property through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker's commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.



Q: Rules for a FHA Loan?
A: The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development offers a variety of loan insurance programs through the Federal Housing Administration, which requires approximately 3 to 4 percent cash down. There are no income requirements to qualify for a FHA mortgage. Other advantages are that FHA loans do not contain prepayment penalties and in some cases they are assumable by qualified purchasers.

FHA loan limits vary, depending on the county where the property is located. FHA loans are originated and serviced by private lenders.

FHA does not lend money. The mortgage is made by a bank, savings and loan, mortgage company or other FHA-approved lender. In addition, FHA does not set the rates and points. The lender determines these, so it is best to shop around by calling several FHA-approved lenders.



Q: Are FHA loans assumable?
A: Lenders will only permit those loans that have a "subject to transfer" clause to be taken over through a formal assumption process. Look to your loan agreement for specific terms. In addition, you should candidly discuss any risks with your lender, and possibly consult an attorney before signing the final agreement.



Copyright 1999 Inman News Features



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