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FHA Loan Rules For Appraisals: What Borrowers Need To Know

May 15, 2018

FHA Loan Rules For Appraisals: What Borrowers Need To Know

What do borrowers need to know about FHA loan appraisal rules? We field reader questions every month that include queries about the appraisal process and whether or not a certain type of condition is permitted in a home to be purchased with an FHA mortgage.

Some recent reader questions go along these lines:

“Is an unfinished basement acceptable in a home I’m buying with an FHA mortgage?”

“Does the garage have to be wired for electricity in order to be approved for an FHA loan?

and, “The home I want to buy is served by a well instead of being connected to a local utility. Is this permitted?”

There are some FHA loan rules for appraisals that may address some or all of these issues, but there’s a very important detail to remember about appraisal requirements.

Appraisal issues are often about valuation of the property, the safety and usability of it. If a condition affects the value or “remaining economic life” of the home, it may require corrections or repairs.

The acceptability of various conditions or features of a property will depend greatly on rules and ordinances affecting a specific housing market.

FHA loan rules don’t include regulations or instructions for each and every possible issue that could be associated with an FHA appraisal. Borrowers can’t rely on the FHA loan rules alone to help them understand what may be required in a certain situation.

State and local building code requirements are more often than not the source for the answers to many of the questions we listed above. FHA loan rules never cancel out local code requirements, and HUD 4000.1, the FHA loan handbook, tells us that local rules will definitely apply in these areas.

So it’s entirely possible that what is acceptable in one part of the country in a home to be purchased with an FHA loan may not be permitted elsewhere. Building code is also subject to change, what was acceptable in years past may no longer apply.

Borrowers with questions about how state or local ordinances might affect their transaction will need to consult the local authority to learn the requirements, the FHA does not archive these regulations.

As always, when talking about FHA appraisals, we like to remind people that the appraisal is a tool for the lender, and should never be considered a stamp of approval or guarantee that a home is defect-free. That is the job of the home inspection, which is optional but extremely important.

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for www.valoans.com for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for FHANewsblog.com.

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FHANewsBlog.com was launched in 2010 by seasoned mortgage professionals wanting to educate homebuyers about the guidelines for FHA insured mortgage loans. Popular FHA topics include credit requirements, FHA loan limits, mortgage insurance premiums, closing costs and many more. The authors have written thousands of blogs specific to FHA mortgages and the site has substantially increased readership over the years and has become known for its “FHA News and Views”.

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