How to check if a condo complex has FHA certification.

January 17th, 2013

About 2-3 years ago, HUD de-certified most condominium complexes for FHA certification, so in order to get an FHA loan the complex would have to “renew” or “re-certify”. Many HOA’s do not even realize they have lost their certification, and very often you will see properties advertised as accepting FHA financing, when in fact, they cannot because they are not certified. FHA can be a real benefit for condo communities in the under $280,000 price range (the limit in the Austin area). Very often these are first time home purchases. First time home purchasers do not have the benefit of selling a home and getting all the equity in-hand, so they have to save it up for that first purchase. With FHA they only need 3.5% downpayment (as of 1/1/2013). Without FHA, buyers are typically looking at much higher down payments 10-20% down. This eliminates a lot of potential buyers. With FHA certification this opens up a whole new market of potential buyers. To see if a complex has FHA certification go the the HUD website HUD FHA Approved Condominiums (oddly, it only operates during business hours) Normally, I simply enter the state, then the first few letters of the complex name. You can filter it further by adding city or zip, but usually you can see quickly a list of condominiums. If it is not on the list, it does not have FHA certification and probably never did. If it is on the list, be sure to check the far right column to see if it has expired or not. Quite often, a complex has had approval and it has expired. No FHA loans can be originated in the complex until it has been re-certified.

Often HOA management companies seem to me to not be willing to pursue this, even though it is of great benefit to the community and its owners. HOA Boards are not really aware of this since most members are volunteer owners. This is a real opportunity that gets past by too often. The complexes that get this done have a distinct advantage over the ones that don’t. Probably for $2,000 this can be done with help from a Direct Endorsement Lender or for even less if somebody is willing to go to HUD direct. Either way it is well worth it.

Condo Joe awarded REALTOR of the Year by Austin Board of Realtors!

January 2nd, 2012

Joe Bryson (a.k.a. “Condo Joe”) was awarded the Austin Board of REALTORS highest award for 2011 – REALTOR of the Year. 

REALTOR® of the Year Award

Joe Bryson of Real Estate Alliance, Inc.

With over 25 years of experience, Joe Bryson has an exceptional professional record based on his outstanding performance in 2011, as well as his overall contribution to the real estate profession on the national, state and local level. Bryson has been involved with the Board since 1985, serving as ABoR’s Director from 1994–1996, in addition to volunteering on numerous committees. In 2011, Bryson served as ACTRIS Chair during the time-intensive and thorough review of the current MLS vendor, Chair of the Green Fields Task Force, member of the AustinHomeSearch.com Task Force during the system restructure and site redesign, Chair of the RES Profile Task Force, participant of the Fusion Beta-test Task Force, and finally, as an Ambassador Program volunteer. His high level of involvement, positive contributions to the Association and stellar professional career in 2011 have greatly benefited the real estate industry.

Well known both inside the industry and in the general public as “Condo Joe,” Bryson is recognized by his colleagues as being an innovative leader, “exceptional communicator and mentor” and has been called “One of the smartest, most knowledgeable Brokers in Austin,” by the Austin Chronicle. It is a pleasure for ABoR to honor Joe Bryson as the REALTOR® of the Year Award recipient

FHA Approvals Expiring/Need Renewals

June 6th, 2011

Lots of changes going on with FHA condo approvals.  Virtually all condo complexes are going through a recertification process these days.  Before advertising your property as having FHA financing potential, it should be confirmed at:

https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/condlook.cfm

Enter the state and at least the start of the complex name and city.  Select <all statuses> and see what the current status is for the condo complex in question.

If you are interested in getting reapproval for a condo complex there are 2 methods to get this done.  One is direct through HUD called HRAP, HUD Review and Approval Process and the other is DELRAP, Direct Endorsement Lender Review and Approval Process.   I have been told there is some potential liability for a lender that approves a complex using DELRAP, so there is not a lot of that going on.  Mostly the approvals are HRAPs.  This process takes some time, 1 to 3 months.  It does take the cooperation of the HOA management companies and the HOA Board of Directors.  I understand there are companies that are doing this for a fee, but with a little effort, an interested party should be able to get this done individually as long as they have the cooperation of the HOA.

Having FHA approval is very much a benefit, as long as the complex fits the loan limits of FHA (currently $288,750 in Travis County).  FHA allows a 3.5% down-payment, is more lenient in qualifying, has assumability potential for a future buyer, and parents can purchase a condo as “owner occupants” if a son, daughter, or direct blood relative is living in the property (that can be huge especially for “kiddie condos”).  The main requirement is owner occupancy vs investor owned in the complex.  Underwriting guidelines require at least a majority of owner occupants.  Some lenders may require a higher percentage, but that is the own guidelines and not what is required.

If your complex has recently lost its FHA certification and you are interested in getting more info on the process, send me an email and I will send you more information and some of the forms you will need completed.

Condominium Boards of Directors need to know new FHA rules

December 28th, 2009

Recent changes in the rules by which condominiums may be purchased with FHA financing is important for the viability of a community.   If your complex has been approved for FHA financing in the past, that may change with the new rules.  If you are on your Board of Directors or an association manager of a condominium HOA (home owners association), you want make sure your complex will comply with the new rules.

FHA is the primary way to finance an owner occupied purchase with low downpayment (currently 3.5%).  It is not an investor loan. It can only be used by purchasers intending to occupy the property.  Conventional lenders have eliminated any low down financing programs.  They now require 10 – 20% downpayment as a minimum.   A lot of purchases of condominiums are made by first time homebuyers, which often means limited resources for downpayment.  Therefore maintaining FHA financing availability for a community is critical to keep the widest possible appeal to prospective buyers.   Without it a complex has limited its potential demand/appeal and can likely result in lower prices for current owners when they go to sell.

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A Short History of Condominiums in Austin

December 16th, 2009

In the beginning

Before the 70′s the word “condominium” wasn’t known in Austin.  During the 70′s a few condominium complexes were built as “condos” and not “apartments”, the difference being they were better built (especially in sound & thermal insulation) and condos started including washer/dryer connections that most apartments did not.  Most of these early condominiums were really more townhomes (typically 2 story with no neighbor above or below) than what most people think of as condominiums.  Austin was in a serious growth mode during the 70′s.  In the central part of the city, land was just starting to get expensive.  It no longer made sense to built single or multi-family properties on these plots of land. Then in 1977, Orange Tree Condominiums was the first condo complex built in the west campus of the University of Texas.  These were the first “condos” like most people think of condominiums – larger, many unit, multi-storied (typically 3), more modern styled, with upscaled common facilities like pools, covered parking, etc.  It wasn’t long after that Austin started to experience it’s first ‘condo boom’.  Every year brought more redevelopment of existing housing being torn down to build condominium communities, not without conflict.  These were the growing pains of a city on the move.  Even though interest rates were sky high during the late 70′s, these condominium projects met with considerable success.

The 80′s were THE decade of condos…..until the bust

By 80′s the boom was on.  Some of the earlier communities were Encinal and de Saligney (still one of my favorites) near downtown, West End and Villa West slightly further west, Edgecliff in NW, Brandywine in north, many complexes started in the campus area like Seton Ave & Palmetto & Elms & Gazebo & Hyde Park & Nueces Park & Nueces Corner & many others.  The interesting thing about a lot of these early condos are the locations they were able to purchase in those early days for “reasonable” prices that allowed the developers to sell moderately priced housing in very good areas.  These days those areas are so expensive that either the prices of the individual units has to be much higher or the development has to go higher, as in hi-rise, to make the land cost a reasonable investment.  It’s still evident in the prices that you can get these earlier condo projects for compared to more modern condos in the same area.  Then in 1985 it all came to a screeching halt.  The economy of Texas was dealt the triple whammy of deregulation of banking and oil and the tax laws changed to make investment real estate support itself on its true cash flow instead of the false profit of tax deductions.  Several communities were already in construction by the time the handwriting was on the wall.  Many of these late projects ended up in foreclosure along with many other single family properties after real estate values dropped to 50% or more of the values they had been selling at only a year or two or three ago.  Condominiums were considered some of the worst excess in this recession.

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