Saturday, September 5, 2009

Frequently Asked HUD Questions - Part II

Check out the first post in this series here. But we're just getting started on everything you need to know about buying a HUD house. By the way, some of these aren't questions that are asked all that often, but rather questions that you should be asking.

What does "insured" or "insured with escrow" mean?

HUD homes are usually listed as being "insured with escrow for required FHA repairs" or occasionally "uninsured." What this means to the buyer is that, if you are using FHA financing, a home insured with escrow will require some repairs as part of the conditions of purchase. With non-HUD houses, these repairs would have to be completed prior to the closing of the sale. With HUD homes, the repair allowance amount, shown in the listing, is added to the amount of your loan and amortized into your monthly payment. After the closing of the sale, you will be required to complete these repairs and pay for them out of your pocket within a specified period of time - usually 90 days, although extensions are usually possible. Once the repairs are completed, the FHA appraiser will return to assess the repairs, making sure they have been done to FHA specifications. At that point, the homeowner will submit receipts for the work and will be reimbursed from an escrow account set up by your lender. If the total of the receipts is less than the amount in the escrow account, the remainder will be credited back to the balance of your loan. Any amounts over the escrow amount will not be reimbursed. If a home is listed as "uninsured," FHA financing is not available. These places usually require fairly extensive repairs and should be considered by investors or those who are comfortable tackling relatively long term projects. Every once in a while, someone will luck out and find a house that is just "insured." This means that FHA financing is available without any required repairs. If you see one of these that isn't a practically brand new house, be sure to go play the lottery that day, for lady luck has smiled upon you.

What kind of deposit do I have to put down?

For most houses, the earnest money required is $1,000. For some, fairly inexpensive houses, you will only have to give us $500 up front. The biggest difference between HUD earnest money and others, is that it HAS to be in the form of certified funds, most sellers will let you write a personal check at this point. HUD doesn't trust you as far as they can throw you. The good news? If you are using FHA financing and plan to occupy this house, this could very well be the only money you have to come up with.

What do you know about the condition of the house?

HUD provides a "Property Condition Report" which assesses the overall condition of the home with a checklist of all structural, mechanical and, to some extent, cosmetic items in the home. You can find this report on any currently listed home by clicking here and searching by the address. This report is not a substitute for your own home inspection. Problems with plumbing or electrical systems are often shown simply as not functional without specifying the source of the needed repairs. In other words: we'll tell you what we found upon a simple inspection but really, as the buyer, you should beware.

More to come later!

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