Renovate your home with FHA 203k

FHA 203k
Renovate your home with a FHA 203k

If you’re like many home buyers, you’re probably looking for a home that is “turnkey” or an updated home that is ready to move right in.  However, since inventory is tight, competition can get intense.  But rather than passing on the “diamond in the rough,” consider the FHA 203k.

The FHA 203k is HUD’s rehabilitation loan.  The “203k” actually refers to the section within the National Housing Act that provides HUD with the ability “…to promote and facilitate the restoration and preservation of the Nation’s existing housing stock;” in other words provide mortgages to renovate and rehabilitate existing homes.  Although the program is not allowed to provide for “luxury” upgrades (such as hot tubs), the program may be used “…to finance such items as painting, room additions, decks and other items…”

If you’re purchasing a home that is not a total rehab project, there is a streamlined version of the program that can assist you to purchase the home and provide additional funds (up to $35,000) for improvements and upgrades.  The FHA 203k-streamline is a “limited loan program” designed to provide quicker access to funds so your home move-in ready relatively quickly.

The “203k” process is relatively straight forward.  After identifying a home, you should consult your 203k lender and consultant about the feasibility of a FHA 203k.  A project proposal is prepared detailing a cost estimate for each repair/improvement.  During loan underwriting, the appraisal is completed to determine the value of the home after the proposed repairs/improvements are completed.  If the mortgage is approved, the home is purchased with the loan and the remaining funds are placed in escrow to pay for the project.

Much like a typical mortgage, you must qualify for the program by meeting underwriting standards for borrowers.  However, unlike the typical mortgage, additional underwriting requirements include review of architectural plans and repair estimates (materials and labor) from licensed contractors.  HUD approved consultants/inspectors examine and evaluate the project’s progress to ensure work is completed and compliant with HUD standards.  Funds for the repairs/renovations are released in draws to ensure the work is completed as intended as well as meeting all zoning, health and building codes.

Of course, the home must also meet eligibility guidelines.  The home: must be one to four units; must be at least one year old; and must meet neighborhood zoning requirements. The program allows for major rehabilitation on homes that have been razed provided that the foundation still exists.

But what if you’ve decided to renovate your home rather than move?  The FHA 203k allows for home owners to make renovations, updates, and sometimes additions.  The possibilities seem endless (as long as your vision stays within the loan limits).   Besides painting and updating kitchen and bathrooms, you could possibly even expand your existing house with an addition.  The FHA 203k even allows for many “green” upgrades to make your home more efficient.

FHA guidelines have been revised in recent years, and may undergo further revisions.  It is important for home buyers and others who are interested in the FHA 203k to consult with an approved FHA lender for borrower and home qualifying guidelines, loan limits and 203k acceptable improvements.  Additional information (including a list of lenders) can be found on the HUD website (

Original published at

Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism Detector

By Dan Krell

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © Dan Krell.

Prepare for repairs when purchasing distressed properties

by Dan Krell (c) 2009.

So you decided to buy a foreclosure! You’re excited and made arrangements for renovations to begin the day after settlement. But wait; there is an unexpected glitch- your lender is requiring the mold in the basement to be remediated before closing. Home buyers’ lenders requiring repairs to be made prior to settlement is a common scenario of buying a foreclosure or short sale.

Besides imposing qualifications for borrowers, lenders also impose minimal property standards for the homes being financed! Among the many types of items that lenders may require you to repair prior to closing include (but not limited to): mold, termite damage, faulty plumbing, or roofing issues. For FHA mortgages, the minimal property guidelines were notoriously strict in the past; the seller could almost expect a laundry list of seemingly nitpicky repairs from the FHA appraiser. However, recent changes to FHA allow more discernment from the appraiser.

It seems to be somewhat of a paradoxical situation: you’re buying the home as-is, but your lender is requiring you to make repairs to the home prior to settlement. If the home is a short sale you could ask the seller to make the repairs, but then again many home owners selling their home by a short sale don’t have the funds to make their mortgage payment let alone the resources to make any repairs. If the home is a foreclosure, the rule of thumb is that banks do not make repairs to their foreclosed homes. Even though the seller won’t make repairs, you still have a couple of options to save your transaction.

Since you decided that the home you are purchasing is such a bargain, you figure that you might do the repairs yourself. However, not all home sellers will allow you to make repairs prior to settlement because of their liability (such as in a foreclosure transaction where repairs are typically not allowed prior to settlement).

If the repairs are beyond your capabilities, funds are limited, or the seller will not allow you to make repairs, you might think that your deal is dead. However, one of the little known secrets to purchasing distressed properties is the FHA 203k mortgage ( The FHA 203k is similar to a typical FHA mortgage, but the difference is that the loan will finance the repairs and renovations to the home.

The FHA 203k mortgage is not provided by all FHA lenders. Since the FHA 203k has requirements that are above and beyond a typical mortgage, it is highly recommended that you seek assistance from a qualified FHA 203k lender. You can find local FHA 203k lenders at

Another option that was common in the past is to escrow repair funds. If the buyer’s lender allows, the buyer can place the repair funds in escrow at settlement with the intention to make repairs after closing. However, as underwriting guidelines and practices have become more stringent most lenders will no longer allow for escrowed repair funds.

Buying a distressed property is a great way to get a bargain, but the transaction does not always follow the “typical” home buying process. If you are buying a distressed home, it is a good idea to plan for all contingencies including unexpected repairs by consulting with qualified professionals.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of April 20, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell

FHA 203k; renovation loans are still available

by Dan Krell

Are you considering purchasing a distressed property, such as a foreclosed home or a short sale, and need to make repairs on the home prior to moving in? Or maybe you have decided to stay in your present home for a few more years, but want to make updates or possibly expand the present space. The question you may have is, “how can I get a loan for these types of repairs and renovations?”

Even during the ongoing credit crunch, there are still renovation loans. One of the most popular renovation loans today is the FHA 203(k). Much like the FHA loan everyone is familiar with (FHA 203b), the FHA 203(k) loan can be used to purchase a home too! The difference is that the FHA 203 (k) provides funding for necessary repairs, updates and/or renovations on your new home; and it is all in one loan. Additionally, home owners needing funds to renovate, update, or expand their current homes can refinance with the FHA 203(k), as long as they have owned it for at least six months.

The FHA 203(k) was first introduced in 1978 through a change in the National Housing Act, section 203(k), which endorses the maintenance of the Nation’s housing. The FHA 203k is HUD’s primary device to meet their goal of “community and neighborhood revitalization” while expanding homeownership opportunities ( Additionally, HUD promotes the use of the FHA 203k to lenders and community organizations as a way to meet the goals of the Community Reinvestment Act.

Of course not all homes are eligible. Some of the eligibility requirements include that your home must be one to four units, the home must be at least one year old and meet neighborhood zoning requirements. FHA allows for major rehabilitation on homes that have been razed provided that the foundation still exists.

Improvements that are eligible for the FHA 203(k) include (but are not limited to) additions, unit conversions, and cosmetic repairs. However, luxury items and items that are not permanently part of the home (such as hot tubs) are not eligible. With the FHA 203(k), the home owner can add or expand a room, add a deck, convert a 1 unit home to a multi-unit home (up to four units), or convert a multi-unit home to a one unit home, and make cosmetic repairs (including giving your kitchen and bathrooms a facelift).

Do you want to make your home more energy efficient? Making your home “green” can save you lots of money down the road; however the transformation can cost quite a bit of money. The good news is that the FHA 203(k) loan allows for many “green” upgrades! Some items that may be eligible include replacing your HVAC and/or windows, waterproofing your basement, and installing solar panels.

The process of obtaining the FHA 203(k) is a little different than a standard mortgage, as additional underwriting requirements include architectural plans and repair estimates (materials and labor) from licensed contractors. The funds for the repairs/renovations are released in draws to ensure the work is completed as intended as well as meeting all zoning, health and building codes.

For more information about the FHA 203(k) mortgage, or to find a FHA 203(k) lender, you can visit the HUD website (

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 15, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.