Taking the Confusion Out of Buying a Condo
Condos are confusing, aren’t they?! Luckily our lenders here at RMN are some of the best around for dealing with condos! In fact, there has even been the nickname “Condo Queen” given to one of our lenders, Jessica Greving, which honestly just motivates us all to live up to the title!
When Jessica began lending in 2000, she was the only lender around that knew how to do a fixed rate on a condo—through FHA spot loans. FHA eventually got rid of that option but thankfully, along the way, Jessica figured out how to do fixed rate condos on VA loans, then USDA loans, and finally conventional loans.
See, RMN doesn’t have the option to put them in-house. So our lenders HAVE to know what they are doing on the front end, so we don’t switch things up on the buyers at the back end. Which is a good thing for us—and for you! It makes it so that we know our stuff, and we can help you figure out the best option for your situation.
First… A Bit About Condos
Typically, condominiums are multi-family units that are broken down so that each unit is individually owned, with an overarching HOA that governs the entire building. In lesser known instances, single-family dwellings can be detached from one another, and still fall into the condominium category. However, no matter the layout of the project, there is always an HOA that covers maintenance, property projects, and the like.
Now, because all the “common areas” such as hallways, mailboxes, etc. are shared by all owners, HOA dues for condos must be included in the total debt-to-income ratio. However, insurance is up to each individual owner to cover for their own units, while the HOA covers the building as a whole.
Condos are popular for a lot of reasons! There is usually less space for owners to maintain, no yard work, access to amenities, opportunities to meet people, and more. They are also a great option for building equity and getting first-time buyers in the market, as they are generally more affordable than single-family homes.
Now that that’s covered, let’s break down the different types of possible loans:
USDA and VA Condos
First, let’s take a look at what the USDA guidelines around condos is: “units in a condominium project are eligible for a guarantee if the condominium has been approved or accepted by HUD/FHA, VA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.”
That being said, it’s important to note that MANY projects are already approved. If they are approved it’s probably because RMN got them to that point, which makes us all super proud—like we said, we know our stuff!
However, while there is a list online where you can check which projects have been approved, we can offer so much more knowledge than that list can provide, so it’s best to just ask us if you have a question! Have a condo listing? Ask us if it’s approved. If it’s not, we’ll get it done for you!
PLEASE, if a lender ever tells you that a buyer can’t get financing on a condo for USDA and VA loans—run away fast—they are wrong. We hear that misinformation all the time and it drives us wild.
Conventional Loans are a bit different, because they don’t typically approve entire condominium projects. With conventional financing, the individual unit is approved, not the overall HOA, so that approval is specific to the transaction and has to be done each time someone comes to us asking for a conventional loan for a unit purchase within a condominium project.
No big deal though, we’ve done it hundreds of times. We have a very standard email we send to the Realtor and/or the association to confirm eligibility. The process is simple, standardized, and efficient.
Guess what?! Local banks have actually told buyers a condo isn’t eligible for fixed rate financing BUT they came to us and it WAS eligible. She who knows the rules wins the game!
These are basically a NO. It’s a bummer, but it’s true. Some markets (we haven’t found any in Iowa) have lenders (or builders with new construction) that get them approved, but it isn’t something we’ve been able to accomplish. If an online lender sends a pre-approval to your buyer for a FHA condo—you might want to make a call and find out if they actually know our market.
Questions? RMN has the answers! Just shoot us an email, text or call. We work hard to figure out the best options for you or your client, whether it will be 20% down, nothing down at all, or anywhere in-between—we cover it all!