5 Tips to Home Rehabilitation with the FHA 203k Loan

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CA BRE #01780273
– Pacific Sotheby’s
International Realty –

Del Mar, CA 92014

A potential home buyer who wants to buy an older home that needs repair might want to consider the FHA 203k rehab loan. This is a federally guaranteed home loan that allows you to wrap a home improvement loan into the overall mortgage. The advantages of the 203k loan are many. The biggest advantage is that you will pay a much lower interest rate on the renovation loan than you generally will anywhere else. Second, you can repay the loan over the life of the loan, rather than in a few years, as with many personal loans. If you want to get a 203k loan to fund your home rehabilitation, experts recommend the following five tips:

#1 Mortgage Pre-Approval

Be sure that your loan originator has done FHA 203k loans before. You should ask him or her if they can explain the entire 203k process to you. They also should be able to show you that they have closed 203k loans before. Also, you should get a mortgage pre-approval that features a 203k loan.

#2 Know the Costs

An FHA 203k loan is not for every buyer or property. Originating the FHA 203k loan takes more time and expertise for the loan originator. These loans are more complex and there are more players involved, so it can add several weeks to the loan process. You should remember these facts if you are buying a property that needs repairs. Also, make sure that the price you pay for the home reflects the fact that it needs repair.

#3 Get a Good Contractor

This is probably the most critical factor when you get a 203k loan from FHA. We recommend that you find highly recommended, licensed contractors that your family or friends have used recently. You do not want to hire a part time contractor who has another day job. If the contractor is not experienced, it is going to be difficult to get the loan to go through. That is why we recommend that you interview several contractors and ask for references.

Having a top notch contractor is important not just for the quality of the rehab. The contractor needs to work with the underwriter to get him or her the documentation that is needed to close the loan. If your contractor does not communicate well, this could prevent the loan from being finalized.

Further, the bank is only going to lend you so much money, so the estimates need to be on target. The mortgage company also will need several pieces of documentation that show that the contractor is qualified to do the work. The best contractor is not usually the cheapest: It’s the one who does the work right at a fair price, and can satisfy the underwriter’s paperwork requirements.

203K loan

#4 Make Up a Wish List

When you think you have found a house that you look, put together a list of the things you want to renovate to make the home into the perfect place for you. You probably cannot do everything you want, but with your list, you can set priorities. It is smart to go to your contractor to get a general idea of what each item will cost. This will help you to better negotiate your sales price with the seller.

#5 Create Equity by Negotiating the Price

Do not overbid on a property. Remember that the property has to appraise. With most of the items that you want to renovate, the appraised value after repairs has to validate that the repairs were worth doing. If you do not negotiate the price of the home low enough, you could end up with less equity than the amount of cash you put down.

Are you interested in doing a 203k loan? Here are some more details to consider:

  • The FHA 203k loan allows you to both buy the home and to fund the repairs at once.
  • You may be able to borrow enough money to pay for rent in another home while your new home is being renovated.
  • The project has to be finished within 180 days. Funds will be placed in escrow and are paid to contractors as the work is done.
  • If you are the owner or occupant of the home, you can use a FHA 203k loan, but it is not designed for investors who are not living in the subject property.
  • The minimum amount to borrow is $5000, and the maximum depends upon where you live. Generally, the amount borrowed is in the area of $20,000.
  • The interest rate varies based upon credit and rates at the moment. You will probably pay 1% higher than you would on a regular FHA loan. That is the price you pay for getting the loan approved faster, and for being able to pay it back over the life of the loan.

Summary

The FHA 203k loan is an excellent vehicle for people who want to buy an older home and want to get it repaired at a low interest rate. If you are buying an older home, you will rarely be able to get a home renovation loan for anywhere close to an FHA loan interest rate. The FHA loan is backed by the government, so the rate is the lowest you will ever see. Definitely consider the 203k loan to get needed home repairs done on your home.

About Dusty Brazil

CA BRE #01780273- Dusty Brazil is a top ranked Realtor with Pacific Sotheby's International Realty. Mr. Brazil has been selling real estate in San Diego for over 10 years and lived in this coastal community his entire life. Dusty is an accomplished surfer who enjoys writing home buying articles when he is not catching waves.