How 3% can make all the difference

{{You’re gonna have to hang in there with me, this one definitely gets filed under ‘boring but important’}}

Today, HUD announced new rules for FHA mortgages that will go into effect in the near future (“summer” whatever that may mean). Those who don’t eat, breathe, and live real estate finance like I do may not know this, but FHA has become the go-to loan for most borrowers, especially first-timers and lower income, but really for everyone who doesn’t have 20% to put down.

Here are the proposed changes:

Anyone with a credit score under 580 is required to put down 10%

In practice, most banks aren’t lending to anyone with a score of less than 620 these days anyway so this one won’t have much of an impact.

The up front mortgage insurance is being raised from 1.75% to 2.25%

For a $100,000 loan amount, this means that the house would cost you an extra $500 which can be financed into the loan. Again, not great but not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

FHA FinancingSeller concessions limited to 3%

This is the one that gives me heartburn. What’s a seller concession, you ask? In most cases, it’s your closing costs. With FHA, you can get a loan with as little as 3.5% down. For first time buyers without a lot of savings, that means you can buy a $100,000 house with not much more than $3,500 out of your pocket, assuming the seller pays your closing costs. That last part is the kicker. Currently, the seller is allowed to contribute up to 6%. And 6% is plenty when you are talking about a $100,000 loan. You aren’t usually going to go over $6,000. But you are probably going to go over $3,000, the new limit in this scenario.

And if you are looking at an even smaller amount, say $50,000?  Three thousand dollars would probably cover your closing costs so you could buy a $50k house for as little as $1,750 out of pocket. Now, with the seller only contributing $1,500 toward your closing costs, that almost doubles what you’re going to have to pull out of the old tin can in the back yard. That’s HUGE!  Anyone looking to live in a $50,000 house – they’re rare, but they do exist in Chattanooga – probably doesn’t have that extra $1,500.

And that’s why I don’t like this change. Looking at houses in the $200,000+ range? You probably won’t notice a difference. But all of those first time buyers who are near and dear to my heart (yes, it’s far more gratifying to sell someone their first house), are to put it bluntly, are getting screwed.

So to all those who need to use FHA financing and who don’t have an extra couple thousand dollars in your mattress, now just became an even better time to buy. Don’t wait until ‘summer’!

Click to search Chattanooga houses for sale.

Disclaimer: all those closing costs number I’m throwing around up there don’t mean that I (or anyone else) is offering a loan with those exact costs, those are big round numbers to illustrate the point.

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