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FHA may loosen limits on condo mortgages

Buying or selling condos over the past several years has been a nightmare due to tight restrictions which may change.

Current restrictions include:

•Non-owner occupancy. The agency requires that no more than 50% of the units in a project or building be non-owner-occupied. This rule alone has made large numbers of condominiums in hard-hit markets ineligible for FHA financing, where investors have purchased units for cash to turn into rentals.

•Delinquent condo association fee payments. The FHA refuses to approve a project where more than 15% of the units are 30 days or more behind on payments of condo fees to the association. Given the state of the economy, this has been a problem for thousands of associations, even in relatively prosperous markets.

•Nonresidential space usage. The FHA has set a cap of 25% of the total floor space in a project for commercial use. Critics say this is too low and unrealistic for condo projects in urban areas, where retail and office revenues can be important to overall financial feasibility.

It will be interesting to see if FHA is willing to adjust these current guidelines to be more buyer and seller friendly!