What is an FHA 203K Loan?

24, May, 2023

An FHA 203K loan, also known as a rehab loan, is a type of loan offered by the Federal Housing Administration. This loan allows you to purchase or refinance a home that needs repairs or renovations. The main benefit of this loan is that you can include the cost of home renovation in the total loan amount, making it easier to finance your home improvements.

An advantage of this renovation loan is that you don't need all the money upfront. This can be particularly helpful if you're looking to buy a house in an area with high-priced homes or if you don't have enough savings to cover the costs of home repairs.

It can be challenging to find lenders who offer loans for homes that require significant repairs. However, FHA 203K loans are a more likely option because they allow you to track the expenditure of renovation costs. Additionally, 203K loans have less stringent qualification requirements than other mortgage and home remodeling loans since they are FHA-insured.

Two Types of FHA 203K Loans

Standard FHA 203K

Standard 203K loans cover repairs such as structural work or extensive repairs. So, the maximum amount loaned is not capped although the minimum amount that can be collected is $5,000.

Some repairs a standard FHA 203K loan covers include:

  • Repairs or renovations that require architectural plans or engineering work
  • Improvement of health or safety concerns
  • Kitchen and bathroom remodeling
  • Improvements or additions that need an architectural plan
  • Major landscaping work
Man renovates home after securing an FHA 203K loan.

Limited FHA 203K

Limited 203K loans are used for homes that do not require many repairs. These loan types do not cover the house's structural work. Also, limited 203K loan requirements state that the house must be livable throughout repairs and renovation. These loans are capped at a $35,000 budget.

Examples of repairs that limited FHA 203K loan covers include:

  • Replacement or repairs for heating and cooling systems
  • Plumbing and electrical fixes
  • Window or door replacements and repairs
  • Making the home more energy efficient
  • Replacement or repairs on roofing and gutters

Eligibility Requirements

Down payment, credit score, and history

As always, a low credit score will affect anything regarding loans. Your credit score, credit history, and down payment must be within acceptable limits.

If you plan on making a 3.5% down payment, you will need a minimum credit score of 580. Any score between 500-579 requires a 10% minimum. Some lenders have different minimum score requirements, so it is best to check with a loan officer first.

Mortgage insurance premiums

A mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) are critical components of all FHA loans. They protect lenders if a borrower defaults on the loan. MIPs do not have a set rate, while UFMIPs do.

The MIP is paid on a monthly basis with the mortgage. UFMIP can be financed into the loan amount, so the borrower does not have to pay it out of pocket at the time of closing.

Unlike how conventional loans can be removed once the borrower reaches a certain level of equity in the home, MIPs cannot be canceled.

Lender Choice

Not all lenders can be hired when it comes to an FHA 203K loan since they must be FHA-approved. Do your research and compare rates, fees, and services among different lenders.

Loan limits

Ensure your total loan amount does not exceed the FHA loan limit in your region. Check the Federal Housing Administration's website to see the loan limit in your county. These change annually, so it is essential to check the current limit before applying for an FHA 203K loan.

Contingency reserves

It is always recommended to set aside contingency reserves for unexpected expenses. Consultants and contractors typically advise you to set aside about 10-20% of the home loan for unplanned costs, depending on how extensive the property rehabilitation is. If you don't end up using this money, you can use it to pay down the principal balance of the loan or save it for future repairs or renovations.

Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a fixer-upper can be a smart investment, but it's important to consider a few factors beforehand. Any time can be a good time to purchase a fixer-upper, as long as you take the time to have a professional inspector evaluate the property and estimate the cost of repairs. Ideally, you want to find a fixer-upper that's priced low because it needs work but has the potential to increase in value once the repairs are done.

Most imperfections in fixer-uppers are fixable, but it's important to ensure that the problems with the property are repairable and won't become a financial burden. Before making an offer, assess the extent of the repairs needed and factor those costs into your budget.

Renovating Your Existing Home

When you cannot access an FHA 203K loan (or any other loan type), renovating your current home is an option. Depending on the region and your budget, getting a house with the exact features you want might be difficult. Instead, opt for a property rehabilitation of your current home and make your payments.

Tips for Working with Contractors

When working with contractors to renovate your home, follow these tips:

  • Confirm that they are licensed and insured before hiring them
  • Ensure they have prior experience with the type of renovation you need
  • Check their portfolio for examples of previous work and read reviews from previous clients
  • Clearly define your expectations in writing to avoid misunderstandings or disagreements

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of having a successful renovation project that meets your goals and remains within your budget.

Alternative Loans to Consider

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

One option to consider when looking for financing for home renovations is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). This loan is similar to a credit card line of credit, but it functions as a second mortgage. With a HELOC, you can borrow funds as needed and use the money for home renovations. The line of credit can be used for up to ten years, after which you can no longer withdraw any additional funds and must start paying back the principal and interest on any outstanding balance.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is a loan program that allows you to borrow against the equity in your home that you want to renovate.

The amount you can borrow depends on the loan type:

  • Up to 85% of home value for FHA loans
  • Up to 80% of home value for conventional loans
  • Up to 100% of home value for VA loans

However, to qualify for a cash-out refinance, you must pass an appraisal to determine its current value. If the house is already in good condition and you only need funds for renovations, a cash-out refinance is a suitable option. On the other hand, if the house is in below-average condition, an FHA 203(k) loan may be a better fit.

VA Alterations and Repair Loan

VA renovation loans are a type of mortgage that finances both the purchase of a home and the repairs and renovations needed. You can also use this to fix and renovate a current home.

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides funding for VA loans, which are only available to current or honorably discharged Military Personnel. This loan type does not require a down payment or mortgage insurance and is widely available among lenders.

USDA Renovation Loan

The United States Department of Agriculture offers many programs to assist potential homeowners, including the USDA Rural Housing Renovation Loan Program. This program provides USDA renovation loans at a rate of 4%, as stated on the USDA website. Homebuyers can receive funding to purchase and repair old homes owned by the USDA that require renovation.

Apply For an FHA 203K Loan

To apply for an FHA 203K loan, follow these steps:

  1. Find an FHA-approved lender that offers 203K loans
  2. Meet the eligibility requirements
  3. Get pre-approved for the loan to determine what you can afford
  4. Find a property that is eligible for an FHA 203K loan
  5. Get estimates for the cost of repairs and renovations from licensed contractors
  6. Submit your loan application to the lender, including estimates for repairs and renovations
  7. Close the loan, which includes signing documents and paying closing costs
  8. Complete the repairs and renovations within the set time frame

Applying for an FHA 203K loan soon? Talk with a CCM loan officer to help you throughout the process.

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