On Wednesday, an estimated 2,200 condominium projects missed an eligibility deadline involving sales or refinancings using Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages. The deadline was originally set by FHA for recertification or approval of these projects, but at the last minute the agency agreed to extend eligibility for most of them -- 23,000 projects -- into next year, with a series of rolling expiration dates. A group of 2,200 condo projects around the country received extensions only until the end of this month.
Currently FHA is currently about 35% to 40% of the buyer market, so these condo associations are going to lose a lot of potential buyers. In 2005, the FHA market share was closer to 3%.What this means, say lenders and condo experts, is that unsuspecting unit owners nationwide could suddenly be cut off from an increasingly important source of mortgage money. In some markets where FHA accounts for 75% or more of first-time home purchases, condo sellers could be severely handicapped. In parts of the country with heavy concentrations of condos, such as California, Florida, New England, Washington, D.C., and the urban Midwest, the effects could even depress sales prices.
Though the precise expiration schedules were not immediately available, FHA officials said they planned to notify condo associations, management companies and lenders on the specifics shortly.
What can owners do? Tops on the list, according to FHA officials, is to get in touch with the leaders of your homeowners association. Ask them to do what's necessary to get the project through the approval hoops. Large mortgage lenders can also get the ball rolling if they want to finance a unit in the project.
Costs for a recertification or approval can run from just under $1,000 to more than $3,000. Time for approvals may be a much more significant factor, however. Eberhardt says his firm can assemble documents and create a package for the FHA in about five days, but the process can extend for an additional 45 days to more than 60 days if the FHA staff is overwhelmed with applications. That just might happen in the coming weeks as unit owners begin learning about their financing cutoff deadlines.