Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life As We Know It

Downtown St Louis saw an investment of 4.4 billion dollars in reinvestment between 1999 and 2008.  During most of that time, the acronym "FHA" used in conjunction with home loans was mostly unheard of (see My Day at the FHA part 1 and Part 2).  Having been developed during that time, there was no percieved need for loft buildings to be "FHA Approved" at that time.

FHA insured home loans have always treated condominiums different than single family homes, having an complicated approval process.  Once approved, FHA loans could be done on a building with "limited review," meaning that the underwriting was simplified and minimal information from the association was required to complete the loan. IN THE PAST, if a condo buildning wasn't approved, but was acceptable, it could go through the SPOT APPROVAL process, by which most loans downtown were done.

In life, the only guarantee is change.

In a past life, watching the ripple effects of government decisions trickle down often meant watching how the affected businesses would respond to the governments mandates.  When the FHA changed thier guildelines, it seemed as if they were trying to make things easier overall.  After all, why should EVERYONE wanting to buy a condo in an acceptable building have to go through a "spot approval" process over and over instead of just doing a bit more work and approving the whole building?  Their goal was to simplify the approval process, stating that any Direct Endorsement lender could do the approval.  What we're hearing is that these same Direct Endorsement lenders are passing the buck to condominium associations. 

In 2008, when I visited the FHA offices, I asked why a condo association or realtor couldn't just arrange for the approval.   My question seemed to be confusing.  "Why can't the lender just do it?" was the confused response.  Of course, knowing lenders, I couldn't think of too many lenders that wanted to go through the public service of having a whole buildng approved just to do one loan. 

The attached picture file shows the requirments needed and most of the buildings downtown should do EVERYTHING THEY CAN to try to comply with these requirements to get thier building FHA APPROVED!  

Looking at the requirements I have some questions.  More will be revealed when I get the answers. 

The basic fact that seemingly alludes condo associations is that the more difficult a condominium is to purchase, the longer it can take to sell and the stronger the buyer's chances of getting a better deal

While some buildings will have more buyers looking for FHA loans than others, it would benefit ALL buildings and downtown as a whole if condominium associations act now to get FHA approval for the next two years.

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