The idea of buying a fixer-upper and turning it into your dream abode can seem so perfect — every nook and cranny just to your specifications! The reality, however, can be harsh. When you realize how much it will cost to remodel, you often also realize that you can’t afford it. Or you find out that a lender won’t give you a loan because the home is considered “uninhabitable” as it is. That’s where an FHA 203k loan comes in.
An FHA 203k loan is a loan backed by the federal government and given to buyers who want to buy a damaged or older home and do repairs on it. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to buy a home that needs a brand-new bathroom and kitchen. An FHA 203k lender would then give you the money to buy (or refinance) the house plus the money to do the necessary renovations to the kitchen and bathroom.
Often the loan will also include: 1) an up to 20 percent “contingency reserve” so that you will have the funds to complete the remodel in the event it ends up costing more than the estimates suggested and/or 2) a provision that gives you up to about six months of mortgage payments so you can live elsewhere while you’re remodeling, but still pay the mortgage payments on the new home.
Which Repairs Qualify?
There are two main types of FHA 203k mortgage loans. The first is the regular or standard 203k, which is given for properties that need things like structural repairs, remodeling, a new garage, or landscaping; the second is the streamlined or limited 203k, which is given for energy conservation improvements, new roofing, new appliances, or non-structural repairs such as painting.
Among the other repairs that an FHA 203k will cover:
The program will not cover so-called “luxury” improvements such as adding a tennis court or pool to the property. It also does not cover any improvement that does not become a permanent part of the property.
What Kinds of Properties Qualify?
Qualifying homes for a FHA 203k loan include:
Your property will also have to qualify under the usual FHA requirements. For example, its value cannot exceed a certain maximum amount, which depends on where you live.
Ask your lender if a 203k loan is right for you.