Mortgage and Portfolio Loan Guide

What is a Non-Warrantable Condo?

Finding out that the condo you’re looking to buy is considered to be a non-warrantable condo can be heartbreaking.

When a condo is identified as a non-warrantable that means it does not meet conventional guidelines (meaning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t buy the loan).

This is kind of a big deal because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pretty much buy all conventional loans. If they won’t give the thumbs up on the condo, you and the seller are in a bit of a tough position.

The first thought that comes to mind for most people is “okay, well what about FHA, VA, or Rural Development? Why don’t we just do a government loan?”

Great question.portfolio mortgage lenders

For the condo to be eligible for FHA financing, it has to be on the FHA approved condo list. If it’s not already on the list, it’s probably best you move onto something else because getting a condo on the FHA approved condo list isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Same thing goes for getting a condo with a VA loan.

The department of Veteran Affairs actually has their own list of approved condos. Again, not the easiest thing in the world to get on that list.

For a Rural Development loan, the condo just needs to meet the conventional condo guidelines to be eligible for financing. There is no USDA Rural Development condo approved list.

Chances are, if the condo doesn’t meet conventional guidelines, it probably doesn’t meet government guidelines either.

What makes a condo non-warrantable?

Some companies will have their own overlays as to what is considered acceptable, but we’ll look at some of the most common reasons for a condo to get flagged as non-warrantable:

  • Projects where a single entity owns more than 10% of the total units (for projects with 21 or more units).
  • Project has inadequate insurance coverage.
  • Condo project has similar characteristics and is managed as a hotel (condotel)
  • Project (HOA, sponsor, developer) is in litigation that relates to safety, structural soundness, functional use or habitability of the project.
  • New construction condos.
  • Established condos that have additional phases in need of completion.
  • High percentage of non-owner occupied units.
  • High number of units being delinquent on association dues for more than 60 days.
  • Project budget is not appropriately structured.
  • And many more.

The most frustrating thing about buying a non-warrantable condo…

Many lenders wait until the last-minute before ordering a condo questionnaire (which tells them if the condo is warrantable orportfolio loans not).

Why?

Well, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’s their “policy” to get the condo questionnaire at the final stages of the loan approval process. Maybe the loan officer didn’t realize how detrimental a non-warrantable condo can be to the process.

It would seem that the most logical thing to do would be to get the condo questionnaire completed before even ordering the appraisal! Think about it, a condo questionnaire costs about $150 (sometimes free), and an appraisal costs $400 – $500. Wouldn’t it make sense to order the questionnaire first, to see if the home can even be financed to begin with?

But many times the opposite happens. Borrowers get under contract on a home, get appraisal done, get fully approved though underwriting, take selfie’s of themselves in front of their new home a week before closing, and then get a call an hour later from their loan officer who say’s “hey man, I just heard from Freddie Mac, they said your condo is non-warrantable”.

Really?

The loan officer is going to place the blame on Freddie Mac?

I know it seems insane. I agree. But there is hope…

How to buy a Non-Warrantable Condo

There are 3 ways to buy a condo that is not warrantable:

  1. Buy the condo with cash. Yeah, because so many people have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around.
  2. Buy the condo on land contract. This is where the seller acts as the lender. This is a good option, but the problem is that there aren’t a ton of sellers willing to do this. Buying on land contract really limits you to what you can buy. Also, land contract holders usually want to be paid in full within 5 years.
  3. Buy the condo with a portfolio loan. You can find portfolio loans with small banks or credit unions. These are what some would call “common sense” loans. Portfolio loans provide the opportunity  for borrowers (and condo projects) to get looked at from a common sense standpoint.

Often times portfolio loans are a breath of fresh air for folks who have been denied for traditional financing. It gives them an opportunity to own the home they want if the big picture makes sense.non-warrantable condo

Portfolio loans are not “no-documentation” loans.

All income has to be verified. All assets have to be verified. An appraisal has to be done. All components of the approval process have to be legitimate. The main difference between the portfolio loan approval process and the traditional loan approval process is the chance to get the whole story looked at.

Portfolio lenders do not take a check-in-the-box type of approach unlike the traditional lending process. They/we truly look at all of the circumstances when making a decision.

These loans are kept on the lender’s portfolio, and are not sold on the secondary market like most loans.

The pricing on portfolio loans vary based on risk. And every portfolio lender has their own take on what each type of risk costs.

You’ll typically find that rates on portfolio loans are reasonable when considering the alternative (renting).

If you have been told you’re stuck because of a non-warrantable condo…

portfolio mortgage lendersI invite you to reach out to me.

You won’t be talking with some new loan officer, or a customer service rep, you’ll be connecting with me directly.

I get calls and emails almost every day from people around the US that are in need of financing for unique scenarios. If I am unable to assist, I should be able to point you in the right direction at the very least.

pre approved home loan


Adam Lesner | NMLS 198818 | Troy, Michigan

Peoples Bank & Trust Co | Michigan, Massachusetts, and Florida. Also offering financing in most states across the US including (but not limited to) Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Washington DC, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin.

The Mortgage Collateral

The Property Piece of the Mortgage Puzzle

It’ game time. You have the steady job. Your down payment is sitting safely in your bank account. Your credit expert helped you get things cleaned up. You’re now ready to buy a home! It’s time to put together the last piece of the mortgage puzzle, the property. This is where the fun begins. The factors to consider when figuring out what home fits you the best are endless. This should help you gain an understanding, and a snapshot on how the process works when you find the home of your dreams.
 
Collateral
 
The home you are purchasing is the collateral being used to secure the financing you’re getting. If you expect a lender to give the green light to finance a home for you, be prepared for them to perform due diligence as well. Your lender will have certain standards that the property needs to meet. 
 
Inspection
 
Once your Realtor has helped you negotiate an amazing price, it’s time to order the inspection. Although lenders mortgage collateraldon’t typically require a general inspection to be completed by a licensed inspector, it’s highly recommended that you get one yourself. Your Realtor usually will have a couple recommendations of credible inspectors in your area. An inspection can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the scope of work and the property size. Your inspector will examine each component of the house in order to give an opinion on what meets code (electrical, HVAC), what doesn’t meet code, and what the estimated remaining life of items might be (water heater, roof, furnace). The cost that you pay for an inspection pales in comparison to the value you receive by knowing exactly what you’re “getting yourself into” with a potential home purchase.

Appraisal

Your lender will require an appraisal to be completed, and will submit an order through a third party. There is no need to order your own appraisal because privately ordered appraisals cannot be used or considered by a lender. The cost can vary depending on scope of work and property size. Typically $400-$750. The purpose of an appraisal is to get an opinion of fair market value of a home, and to find out if there are any serious issues with the home (peeling paint, broken windows, mold…). The appraiser will physically go out to the property to do an general inspection, take pictures, and take measurements. The appraiser will pull records of recent sale history for similar properties that have sold within the area of the home you’re buying. He/she will take into consideration the square footage, amenities, condition, age, and other important factors that contribute to value. The appraiser will make specific adjustments to value based on how those factors compare to the actual property being sold. By doing that, the appraiser can make an educated decision of what people are willing to pay for a home that is similar to the one you’re buying. This is called the sales comparison approach. This approach gives the best indication of what the fair market value is because it’s based on what people are actually willing to pay in that given market. If any repairs needed are noted by the appraiser, there is a strong likelihood that those repairs will need to be completed. You don’t necessarily want to make any repairs, nor will you be authorized in most cases, because you don’t own the home yet. What if you spend $100, and a Saturday afternoon installing a rail on a porch, just to find out you can’t close on the home for other reasons? Doesn’t make much sense.

Property Type

  • Single family home – This is your typical stick built, built from the ground up, free standing home. You’ll be required to maintain your own landscaping, snow shoveling, and exterior maintenance. You may or may not have an organized homeowners association (HOA) in your neighborhood. The HOA will help with general street maintenance and neighborhood needs. Be mindful of what the HOA fees are because it can have an impact on your debt-to-income ratio. In some areas you may think you’re buying a single family home, but find out too late that it’s a “site-condominium”. Depending on your loan program, your lender may have to do a more extensive review of the property and HOA if the home is found to be a site-condo.
  • Condominium – This can be a home in a community of 1 or 2 story homes that are attached, or a building of many stories containing units stacked on top of one another (like an apartment building). You own the interiorcollateral mortgage of the home. The exterior is typically maintained by the HOA, so the HOA fees are typically more costly on a condo. There are usually amenities like a pool and exercise facility among other things. Condos are popular for people who want to enjoy the benefits of homeownership, but pass on the headache of maintaining anything outside the home. Condos require a more thorough review than any property type. The lender will examine the financials of the HOA in detail. They’ll look for things like reserves, delinquent owners in the community, and insurance coverage. If you are getting an FHA loan or a VA loan, you can find out what condos are already approved in your area. For FHA approved condos in your area click hereFor VA approved condos in your area click here
  • Townhome – A townhome can be a very similar setup as the condo that’s in a community with 1 or 2 story homes that are attached. With a townhome you do own the land outside but the HOA will cover day to day maintenance usually. Your lender will contact the HOA, but typically will not be as strict on guidelines as they would be on condos.
  • Manufactured home – These are homes that are built in a factory and placed on a piece of property. It can be a challenge to find a lender for manufactured home financing. One of the reasons many lenders do not offer financing on manufactured homes is because manufactured homes typically depreciate in value. In other words, the value of the home will likely decrease over time. Whereas the value in a single family home, condo, or townhome, will typically increase (appreciate). Of course the housing meltdown in recent years has made many people question that fact. But historically, real estate is a great investment, and will appreciate in value.  
  • Multi-unit – any property that is being sold as piece that has several functional dwellings (units). These are duplex (2 unit home), triplex (3 unit home), and fourplex or quadplex (4 unit home). You can obtain a residential mortgage on multi-unit homes as long as they are 4 or less units. Anything with 5 or greater units will require a commercial loan. Multi-unit homes are a great way to supplement your income and have your mortgage paid for by the tenants.

Escrow Account

  • General – Your escrow account is a cushion set aside so that you have adequate funds available to pay your taxes and insurance when they are due. At closing you’ll pay for your full year of homeowners insurance, and several month’s worth of your taxes (depending on the time of year and frequency of taxes due). In your mortgage payments moving forward you’ll pay a fraction of your annual homeowners insurance and taxes. Each payment will contribute to your escrow account so that enough is accumulated when the next tax or insurance bill is due. Your lender will manage your escrow account for you. This keeps things simple for you because you do not have to worry about having to pay a large bill for taxes and insurance two or more times per year. It’s all included in your payment so you have less responsibility to manage. If you have a FHA loan, VA loan, or put less than 10% down, you’ll be required to have an escrow account with your lender.
  • Insurance – You’ll need to obtain an insurance policy to cover unexpected, significant damage on the home. Each property type will have different requirements, and needs that will be covered. Your Realtor and your lender can give you insight on what type of coverage to get. Certainly the insurance agent you choose will be the expert in that field on what coverage you need.
  • Real Estate (property) Taxes – Be mindful of how much the taxes on your property are. This can make a significant difference on your budget and your debt-to-income ratio. Your taxes are likely to fluctuate, which can cause an adjustment in your monthly escrow payment.

Congratulations! 

With the information you’ve been able to acquire by skimming through the “keeping your home loan process simple” series, you’re now more prepared than the vast majority of home buyers. Use this as a reference. Use it as a tool to come back to as you get closer to being ready to take the next step into the American dream. Subscribe by email to stay in the loop on the latest and greatest info on homeownership, and balanced living.  

A few closing tips…

From Livingston County, Michigan expert, and licensed inspector, Dominic Vagnetti of Inspections on Demand. 517-540-0800

 

-Roof conditions and foundations are the two most worrisome items for buyers. Roofs are a disposable product and we want to start paying extra attention as they reach their 20th birthday. We are seeing longer lifespans from dimensional (or architectural) designs, however exceptions are always present. Curling, granule loss, missing shingles are things a buyer can see driving up to the property.

-Foundation cracks can be problematic but are most commonly superficial. Look for signs of water leakage that would require injection sealant, gaps larger than 1/4 inch, or horizontal cracks which can be signs of significant movement.

-Foundation waterproofing and drainage are mostly typical of 1970s and newer homes. Prior to that, sump crocks and foundation drain lines were either not present or poorly designed. Signs of water damage or flooding can be found by examining homeowner belongings on the floor or looking for stains on wood walls or shelving. It can be important to differentiate between ongoing flood issues and a single water event like a water heater failure or leak in a pipe.