Over the past few weeks we’re received a lot of questions regarding the recent changes to the FHA loan program. I might as well address some of these questions and concerns publicly. The changes are due to the recently signed Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
Changes to the down payment requirement: The minimum down payment requirement will increase from 3% to 3.5% starting October 1, 2008. To take advantage of the 3% down payment contracts must be dated before September 15th, underwriting approvals must be made before the 22nd and loans must fund by the 30th. Now, not only is the down payment requirements increasing, but H.R.3221 eliminates down payment assistance programs all together. I personally, don’t understand the reasoning behind this but then again it’s the government.
Status of the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium: HUD had recently made the FHA Upfront mortgage insurance risk-based. Meaning you paid more if you had worse credit. Now with the new bill H.R. 3221, there is a one year moratorium on these changes. In the mean time FHA will revert back to the single 1.5% premium charge.
New FHA loan limits: The new FHA loan limit will be the lesser of 115% of median sales price for your area or $625,500 but no lower than $271,050.Â The median sales price this will be based on will not be published by HUD until November. We do know that if your loan limit since March has been higher than $271,050, the only way your loan limit will not be lower starting January 1 is if your area home prices have been having a significant rise (not true of hardly any area).Â However, we don’t know what the new loan limit will be for sure until FHA does their math, only that it will be somewhere between the floor of $271,050 and the cap of $625,500.
Bottom line is that if you are planning a home purchase and would need a FHA loan, then you need to be aware that the loan limits will most likely be falling and the down payment amount will be rising after the first of the year. In essence, might as well purchase before end of the year.
$7500 tax credit: The recently signed bill provides a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers that will expire July 1, 2009, must be repaid over 15 years — making it, in effect, an interest free loan. First-time home buyers are defined as those who have not had an ownership interest in a real estate property in the past three years. North Phoenix Agent, Heather Barr, has a great post on her blog with details on this tax credit.
As you can see there are lots of changes in the industry. If you are in the market for a FHA loan, my best advice is ask lots of questions.