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Articles Published in: October 2012

FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages: Is Escrow Required?

When learning abo0ut FHA home loans, escrow is one issue some borrowers have questions about. The FHA frequently asked questions pages include the following about escrow, which is governed by something called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA: “Does RESPA require borrowers to maintain an escrow account? NO. It is the lender’s decision whether the borrower must maintain an escrow account for the purpose of paying taxes and other items. The HUD regulations only limit the maximum amount that a lender can require a borrower to maintain in an account.” That Q&A from the FHA official site seems to indicate that the FHA does not require escrow; indeed, it is the lender’s choice to require escrow or not. But are there situations where an escrow account may actually | more...


FHA Warning On Scams Related to the National Mortgage Settlement

In early 2012, a landmark mortgage settlement between five major lenders and the U.S. government was reached after complaints were filed regarding home loan abuses and foreclosure abuses. According to a Department of Justice press release dated March 12, 2012, “The Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and 49 state attorneys general announced today the filing of their landmark $25 billion agreement with the nation


Hurricane Sandy and FHA Advice on Natural Disasters and FHA Loans

Hurricane Sandy has been dominating the headlines; it’s a good time to review FHA loan policy for those who might be affected by a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood or other weather-related issue. Much of the FHA loan policies are directed towards those who have had properties damaged by a disaster, but some borrowers have employment issues after a weather-related incident and may have difficulties making their next FHA loan payment. FHA loan rules do address that situation as well as cases where the borrower is trying to recover from storm damage or other problems. From the FHA official site: “Was your home or your ability to make your mortgage payments harmed by an event that the President declared a disaster? You may qualify for relief to help | more...


Are You Eligible For an FHA Mortgage?

FHA loans are sometimes misunderstood–some people think FHA mortgages are only for low-income families, others wrongly assume only first-time home buyers can qualify for an FHA loan. The FHA does provide a list of guidelines that list who is eligible–and who is not–to apply for an FHA mortgage or refinance. The FHA loan rules include guidelines on credit scores and minimum age–which we discuss below. The rulebook that describes these things is called HUD 4155.1. In this guideline you’ll find the following: “FHA insures mortgages made to individuals with valid Social Security numbers (SSN), and under the conditions described in this section, to state and local government agencies, and approved nonprofit organizations. Note: Employees of the World Bank, foreign embassies, etc., may not be required to have an SSN. Conclusive | more...


FHA Loan Reader Question: What Does “Endorsed” Mean?

A reader asks, “Can you please explain what “endorsed” means? I started my FHA streamline refi process March 11, 2009 through Countrywide. In the meantime BoA purchased Countrywide and the refi wasn’t finalized until June 29, 2009. Its not my fault the process took so long, and I sincerely hope I am not losing out on a refi or decrease PMI because of their delays!” This reader question most likely refers to FHA mortgagee letter HUDNo.12-045, which includes the following information about FHA Streamline Refinancing: “…Acting Federal Housing (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante announced significant price cuts to FHA


FHA Loan Eligibility

When a borrower applies for an FHA guaranteed mortgage, the lender is required to determine whether the borrower is a good risk by examining credit rating, the applicant’s debt-to-income ratio, and employment. But the lender also has some other checking to do. FHA loan rules state, “To determine whether a borrower is eligible to participate in an FHA mortgage loan transaction or must be rejected, the lender must: examine HUD’s LDP list, the GSA List and CAIVRS, and document the reviews on the HUD-92900-LT, FHA Loan Underwriting and Transmittal Summary.” What do all those abbreviations mean? “LDP” stands for “Limited Denial of Participation”. GSA is short for “U.S. General Services Administration List of Parties Excluded from Federal Procurement or Non-procurement Programs”. The acronym “CAVIRS” refers to “HUD’s Credit Alert Interactive | more...


FHA Loans and Escrow Accounts: What You Should Know

Many home loan applicants find themselves opening escrow accounts at the request of their lender for such things as property taxes and other expenses related to owning a home purchased with an FHA mortgage. While the FHA loan program does not require an escrow account, the lender may. The FHA official site reminds borrowers and lenders alike that it’s misleading for any lender to imply that FHA loan rules issued by the Federal Housing Administration require escrow; this is not true but the lender is free to do so. The FHA official site says of escrow, “Section 10 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) limits the amount of money a lender may require the borrower to hold in an escrow account for payment of taxes, insurance, etc. RESPA | more...


FHA Loan Reader Questions: Bankruptcy and Foreclosure

A reader asks, “My bankruptcy has been discharged for 3 years but the house has not been foreclosed on yet. Can I get an FHA loan?” There are several unanswered questions here that don’t allow a definitive answer. The nature of the bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 14) plays a part in the answer. Is the house in foreclosure now? More information is needed to provide a clear answer. In general, FHA loan rules do require a “seasoning period” for bankruptcy and foreclosure. A home that is currently in foreclosure will likely interfere with a borrower’s attempts to get a new home loan of any kind. A home purchased with a government-backed loan that has been foreclosed upon may result in the borrower being indebted to the government. VA loans, | more...


FHA Loan Reader Questions: Appraisals

A reader asks, “We had an appraisal 3 years ago when we purchased our house. It came in at $122000. At the beginning of the year, we had a contract with an FHA buyer and the appraisal came in at $117000, this made the deal fall through.” “Our house has been on the market over a year, now we have a contract with another FHA buyer and since it