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The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently altered its guidelines as a result of the Economic and Housing Recovery Act of 2008. One significant change was the elimination of the seller-funded down payment assistance program. Often used by builders through non-profit organizations such as Nehemiah and Ameridream, this program enabled the seller of a property (either an individual or a builder) to “donate” an amount equal to the funds needed by a buyer for a down payment on a home when securing FHA financing.

As of Oct. 1 of this year, the FHA will no longer allow seller assisted down payments. Not only that, but the FHA actually increased the down payment requirement from 3 percent to 3.5 percent—a setback for those who want an FHA loan and are already having problems saving enough money to close on a home.

 

Fortunately, there is another financing option that can bring these folks a little closer to home: family loans. This feature is unique to  FHA. And while it‘s not permissible for buyers to borrow the down payment from individuals when securing any other type of mortgage, FHA’s guidelines allow buyers to borrow from family members. But to obtain a family loan, borrowers must keep some specific requirements in mind: 

  • The family member making the loan can be a parent, grandparent, son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter, or a legally adopted child or foster child.
  • The term of the loan cannot be less than five years.
  • The FHA loan and family loan combined cannot be greater than 100 percent of the value of the home.
  • The scheduled loan payments, if any,must be factored into the buyer’s debt ratios.
  • Funds cannot be directly or indirectly associated with the seller, or anyone in the transaction who has a financial interest in the sale.

Now let’s combine the family loan with another advantage afforded by the Housing and Recovery Act of 2008: the $7,500 tax credit. If Grandpa is a likely candidate to supply a family loan, then he might want to know how he would get paid back. If the buyers are first timers and qualify for the tax credit, then Grandpa could get repaid come tax time.

Remember that lenders will want to verify the source of all funds to close the transaction, so be prepared to provide a copy of the loan agreement that spells out the terms and verifies that Grandpa has sufficient funds available to make the loan.

Sometimes when a window closes, another one opens, So while the recent Housing Recovery Act of 2008 has put the squeeze on the seller-funded down payment assistance program, a family loan can provide another avenue to closing on a home.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the most sweeping housing legislation since the Depression era, was passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives at the end of last month and was signed into law by President Bush. The new law addresses various aspects of the housing downturn, including assistance for homeowners who are behind on their mortgages, federal oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and funding for cities to buy and fix up foreclosed properties. Many of the provisions of the new law go into effect October 1, 2008 but for first-time home buyers who bought, or will buy, their home between April 9th of this year and July 1, 2009, there's an immediate bonus a tax credit of up to 10 percent of the sales price, up to $7,500. Note that this is a tax credit, not a tax deduction. A deduction is an item that is subtracted from your annual income before income taxes are calculated. A tax credit is subtracted from the amount of taxes you owe.

First-time home buyer is specifically defined in the new law, and includes those who may have owned a home in the past, but not within the last three years. To qualify, be prepared to show your last three years? worth of income tax returns to prove that you did not pay mortgage interest during that period. There are also income limitations on the tax credit - $75,000 per year if you're single and $150,000 if filing a joint return to qualify for the full credit, but the credit does phase out beyond those amounts up to $95,000 for singles and $170,000 for joint filers.

By the way, the tax credit isn't a gift - you have to pay it back. Nevertheless, it provides an initial reprieve, as repayment doesn't begin until two years after purchase, and is payable over a 15 year period. If you sell the property before the tax credit has been fully repaid, any remaining amounts owed are due to the IRS upon closing.

Applying for the tax credit isn't mandatory, but for many, it will make home ownership feasible in the coming year and that's exactly what the tax credit is intended to accomplish.

A Bad Wrap! by David Reed

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We’ve all heard the term, “wrap around,” but what exactly does it mean? A wrap around mortgage, or simply a “wrap,” is an agreement where the buyer of a property makes monthly payments to the seller of a property, who then pays the original lender each month. This is perceived as a way of an owner “selling” a property to a buyer without the buyer obtaining conventional financing.

While a wrap can be viewed as a traditional sale, in reality it’s anything but.

All mortgage loans contain a “due on sale” clause. That means if the current owner of the property sells or otherwise transfers ownership then the lender can immediately call the loan in completely. In other words the lender says, “Okay, you sold the property, we want our money.” In the past, the due on sale clause was not as prevalent, but now all mortgage loans contain such language.

So how would the lender ever know? First, if it’s a legal transfer of ownership, the sale would be recorded and therefore become public record. Lenders would receive notice from the companies they employ to monitor such transactions. The lender could also find out following the change of the original owner’s mailing address.

Now say the owner of the property tells you that they could “carry the note” for you if all you did was make monthly payments directly to him or her. If your agreement was to pay $2,000 per month, those funds could then be directly applied to their original mortgage payment.

Many wrap arrangements require a substantial down payment from the buyer along with the agreement to make a mortgage payment above and beyond what the real mortgage payment requires. Wraps are typically made because the buyer, the seller or both are unable to secure financing. While it may appear to be a solution to a tough problem, a wrap around mortgage is inherently problematic (and generally not worth the trouble).

For example, what would happen if the seller was notified by the lender that an illegal transfer of ownership took place and the lender activates the no-sale clause and wants all its money back?

First, the seller would have to immediately refinance the current note, which would be nearly impossible because the property would have been sold.  A new lender wouldn’t finance the new deal nor would the buyer, because the lender wouldn’t recognize the new owner.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, what if the buyer indeed made the monthly payments on a regular basis but the owner somehow fell behind and didn’t make the payments to the original lender? The lender would be forced to foreclose on the original owner, meaning that the new buyer would lose the down payment and payments to the original owner!

A wrap around isn’t a “last resort” method of financing, it’s a “no resort.”  Violating the terms of a mortgage, having the mortgage called in by the lender and the buyer losing his down payment and presumed equity with no legal ownership rights is a losing proposition for everyone!

Getting a gift in the form of cold, hard cash to buy real estate is a wonderful thing. Gift funds are a common way parents help their kids buy a home, but there are certain requirements to follow to ensure the gift transfer goes smoothly.

What exactly is a cash gift? Technically, it is a transfer of funds from one party to another without any expectation of being paid back. This non-repayment factor is a key element because lenders can’t accurately calculate debt ratios if the gift is in fact a loan. How do lenders determine this? The “givers” are required to sign an affidavit stating that the funds being given are a gift with no repayment expectations.

Who can give a gift? Gifts can come from family members (parents, siblings or grandparents), non-profit agencies, local or state agencies, churches, domestic partners and trade unions. 

The party that furnishes the gift must show an “ability to give”, which means they have the money available in an account they own. This is documented by providing account statements showing the funds are available. Finally, it must also be documented that the gift funds were transferred from one party to the next and the lucky recipients (and future home buyers) must provide a bank statement showing the gift was received.

While the need for documentation might sound heavy-handed, the truth is lenders need to take every precaution to make sure that the “gift” isn’t a “loan.” So if you know what the lender expects ahead of time, the gift transfer can be seamless. Just remember, financial gifts over a certain limit may have income tax implications, so be sure and consult with an accountant or tax specialist before getting the mortgage process underway.

One final note to consider. Conventional loans differ from FHA programs in their requirements for reporting gifts to be used toward the purchase of a home. Buyers using conventional financing need to prove that they have at least 5 percent of their own funds in the purchase transaction. However, that requirement is waived if the gift represents more than 20 percent of the purchase price. The FHA loan, on the other hand, merely requires the buyers have at least $500 of their own money at closing, regardless of the amount of the gift.

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Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949