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Condo Financing Guide

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Your Guide to Financing A Condo

In many ways, financing a condo is the same as financing any other residential property. The same lenders that make loans on other residential properties typically finance condos as well. Things like down payment requirements and other qualification standards are largely the same. However, there are a few key differences you should know before you start shopping.

Lenders generally require the same personal qualifications for a mortgage on a condo as they do for a single-family home loan.In other words, if your loan product requires a 10% down payment, that generally applies to a condo, as well. If your lender requires a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 36% or less for a single-family mortgage, the same will typically apply to a condo. In a nutshell, there’s nothing special required from you to finance a condo.

Although there are no special requirements for you to qualify for a mortgage on a condo, there may be special requirements related to the condo itself. Here’s a rundown of things a lender could look at when you apply for a mortgage on a condo:

  • The condo association will likely receive some scrutiny. For starters, the lender will want to see that the association is in good financial condition, has adequate insurance, few owners are delinquent on their association dues, and that there are no pending legal issues against the HOA.
  • To qualify for financing, a condominium generally will need to be entirely residential in nature. For example, if a portion of the building is occupied by hotel rooms or commercial space, it could be a dealbreaker for a lender.
  • If any of the condos in the building were sold as timeshare units, you could have an issue obtaining financing.
  • Lenders typically want to see that a certain percentage of the units are owner-occupied and aren’t owned as rental properties. For the purposes of occupancy requirements, condos owned as vacation homes are generally considered to be owner-occupied.
  • Lenders use comparable sales to determine how much a property is worth. With condos, they may want to see comps from the same building. If no units have recently sold, this could be a roadblock for financing.

You have several choices for condo financing. Here are some choices based on your  situation:

  • Conventional Full Review – The condominium needs a Fannie Mae approval; buyers can move in with as little as 3% down.
  • Conventional Limited Review – A very limited review of the condominium association.  No reserve requirements or long questionnaires to complete.
  • FHA Spot Condominium Approval – The condominium must meet FHA spot condominium review approval parameters; buyers can move in with just 3.5% down.
  • VA Approved Condominiums – The approved condominium can be financed with no money down for military veterans and active military with acceptable VA benefits.

If you’re applying for FHA financing for a condo, there are some specific requirements you should know about.

  • The condo has to be your primary residence.
  • The biggest potential roadblock is that the condo must be listed on the FHA-approved condominium list. This is a list of condos in the U.S. that meet HUD standards. If the condo isn’t on the list, it doesn’t qualify for FHA financing — period.
  • More than half of the units in the condominium have to be owner-occupied, and at least 80% of all units with FHA financing must be owner-occupied. To get an FHA mortgage, a home must be your primary residence, but you can convert it into a rental after a certain number of years.
  • The condo complex must have been complete for at least a year. In other words, you can’t get an FHA loan on a condo in a building that’s under construction or that has been recently completed. This rule applies even if the building your unit is several years old but a new phase is being added.

If you’re applying for a conventional (non-FHA) mortgage on a condo, the requirements vary based on your lender, the size of your down payment, and more. The condo concerns I discussed a couple of sections ago generally apply to conventional financing, but some of the FHA rules don’t. For example, you can use a conventional mortgage to buy a condo that’s still under construction or was recently completed. And if you want to buy a condo as a vacation home or investment property, a conventional loan is the way to go.

The main difference between financing for condos and single-family homes is that there are two things that need to qualify for financing — you and the condo building itself. The qualification standards for you are generally the same, no matter what type of home you’re buying. You’ll still need an adequate down payment, enough income to justify the loan, and stable employment, for example. However, you can expect the condo and its association to be put through a rigorous approval process. That process could prevent you from getting financing, even if you’re an otherwise well-qualified applicant.

Source: https://www.fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-financing/articles/your-guide-financing-condos/


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