Tag Archives: Mortgage

Condo Let Lapse FHA and VA Certification

C.W. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our complex has always maintained FHA/VA certification. This certification certainly can be viewed as either a positive or negative by some. As I understand it, last fall the government separated the two, requiring two separate certifications. My complex let the certification lapse and then chose only to renew the FHA certification. Now, the FHA cert costs about $1800 with attorney’s fees and is only good for a limited time (I believe 2 years), the VA certification is a lifetime certification and a one-time expense of approximately the same amount. There was nothing in our complex financials reflecting payment or budget for either. There was no notification from the board regarding maintaining or dropping either. I only found this out because I had put my unit for sale and was notified of the lack of certification. After going to the Board, they said they were unaware of the separation of certifications. I lost my first buyer because it was during the lapse of either, and then lost my second buyer because of the non-VA renewal. The board originally asked if I would front the cost and they would reimburse me at the closing, which I agreed. They then reneged and asked me to pay half, then they said they would not reimburse me at all but would supply the attorney with the paperwork. I have lost both buyers because of this. I am now 4 months later with no buyers and multiple price drops. Do I have some sort or recourse because of the lapse and non-renewal and no notification or owner vote regarding this? Certainly, I would think that this certification has a reflection on our unit value. Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

C.W., I am certainly sorry that you have lost a few buyers for your unit while this debacle unfolds. I should point out that I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. You should speak with qualified counsel to see if you have any type of legal remedy worth pursuing. You are correct to point out that there are differences between FHA and VA certification. Generally speaking, FHA certification is required for the condominium association for any mortgages that are FHA insured (most are these days). VA certification is specific to the VA-backed loan program and has a different set of requirements. If your complex had VA certification at one time, I am not sure how they lost it. FHA certification is a renewable program so it does have to be sought and reapplied for from time to time as required by the FHA. To optimize mortgage opportunities, many condominium associations opt for FHA certification. Not all bother with VA certification as it is a much narrower pool of buyers who require such certification. Neither are required to be carried by the association, which is why I question your ability to claim an association-caused loss because of the lack of the certification. Your pool of potential buyers is certainly smaller without the FHA certification but you are still unencumbered by the association when you do sell. The Board should take the best interests of all unit owners into consideration when deciding to renew or let lapse FHA certification. Ultimately, if the unit owners want it and the Board refuses to get it, it is time for a new Board. All the best!

Condo Price Rebound After Settled Lawsuit

J.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo dropped significantly in value just like every other condo community around us when the economy collapsed in 2008. In the meantime, our HOA began a litigation against the builder. This meant that when prices of other communities began to rebound a few years ago, ours remained low because mortgages were generally unavailable to purchasers and it has been all cash sales. All other condo communities surrounding us have now rebounded to pre-recession value, but our community has remained low in price due to the litigation. We just received notice that all parties have settled and the court ruling will be within the next couple weeks. We would like to sell our condo and are wondering how long it will take to see our condo value rebound now that the litigation has ended. Can we start using other similar communities as real estate “comps”? Thank you!

Mister Condo replies:

J.B., I am sorry your condo association was forced into litigation against a developer. Lawsuits can have long-lasting repercussions against associations including the financial burden of funding the suit when monies could be used elsewhere or put in Reserve, creating a strong financial position for the condo, which is desirable to an educated purchaser. That being said, if your condos look as nice as others in your market, there is no reason to think the units shouldn’t rebound now that mortgages are available. Price is driven by market demand. An encumbrance like a lawsuit can hinder demand but with the suit out of the way, I can’t think of any reason the prices shouldn’t rebound quickly. Make sure the unit is in good shape and that the association is doing all it can to keep the curb appeal in good order. The right realtor will market the unit properly and the market will dictate the price. Good luck!

Condo Reverse Mortgage Woes

R.H. from Wisconsin writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am president of a condo association. Currently we have 11 existing buildings that are occupied (2 units per building). There still are 7 more buildings that will be built in the coming years. We basically have 58% of the project built and completed. I understand that you need a certain per cent of buildings completed before you can qualify for Reverse Mortgage as an association. What is that percentage?

Mister Condo replies:

R.H., there are a number of factors that go into determining if a Reverse Mortgage can be granted to a condominium unit owner. Since many reverse mortgages are also FHA backed, the entire association must be FHA approved before any one FHA backed reverse mortgage can be granted. That can be tricky enough when the project is completely built but it is even trickier when the association is still under construction as yours is. Have you sought FHA approval for your condominium association yet? There are pros and cons in doing so but my guess is that you will need to do so if you are getting requests for reverse mortgage eligibility. Rather than go it on your own, may I suggest you work with an industry professional to walk you through the process? Otherwise, I think you will spend an inordinate amount of time on the project and still may not get the approval you need. In your state, there is a local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). I found an interesting press release on FHA at their website you might want to read – https://www.cai-wi.org/news/cai-government-affairs/ The article deals with the shifting requirements for condominium associations. In other words, today’s answer may be different tomorrow.

If you are seeking a local resource to help, may I suggest you get in touch with them the Wisconsin Chapter of CAI and ask about companies that specialize in FHA approvals for associations like yours? That way you can get a local expert opinion on the feasibility for your association. Good luck!

No Common Fees Collected on Condo Unit for Six Years!

J.D. from New York writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

In New York, is there a statute of limitations applicable to a condominium where the entity claiming to be the holdover of the mortgage note has three times, without success, sought to hold a public sale? Now, more than six years have passed since the last payment was made (to a bank no longer in existence, having been absorbed into another bank, which – in turn – was merged by the federal government into the entity which has unsuccessfully thrice attempted a public sale). If such statute of limitations exists – would it be found in the CPLR, GOL, or some other statute, rule or regulation?

Mister Condo replies:

J.D., I can only hope this association has had some legal guidance from a qualified attorney during this lengthy period. I am not an attorney so I cannot offer any legal advice in this column. I am not sure how an entity can claim to be a mortgage note holder without providing some type of documentation. The Civil Practice Laws and Rules (CPLR) and General Obligation Law (GOL) may be a great place to start but I would also suggest that the association has a lien on the property enforced by the New York Condominium Act and that whoever owns the unit is liable for the back common fees as provided in the law. An attorney may have also advised that the association foreclose on the unit for unpaid fees due to the association. Clearly, this unit needs to be liquidated one way or another and the association needs to have a dues-paying unit owner using the unit as soon as possible. That may mean taking a write-off but it should get things back on track. Consult with a locally qualified attorney to see what your options are. All the best!

Condo Owner Resident Surrounded by Renters

A.C. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am in Florida and one of 2 owners in a 45-unit building. The other owner has turned the building into rental units what can we do to get out of our mortgage and make him pay?

Mister Condo replies:

A.C., thank you for writing and I am sorry you find yourself in a less than desirable situation. I am not 100% sure I understand your predicament. If there are only two owners in this building and an investor has purchased the remaining units, there isn’t too much you can do outside of reviewing the association’s governing documents to determine if any rules or by-laws have been broken by the owner who is renting out his units. It is possible that there is a limit or cap to how many units can be rented out at any one time but I doubt there are any restrictions on the owner that forbids him from renting units in general. As for your mortgage, that is between you and the bank who holds your mortgage. Mortgages are not the business of the association so you are on your own there. As for getting the multiple unit owner to pay, that sounds unlikely in my opinion. You may wish to speak to a community association attorney in your state for additional clarity but unless rules have been broken, you may just need to either put up with the renters (who still need to follow the rules of the community) or sell your unit to get out of your mortgage and out of the community. Good luck!

Forcing a Unit Owner to Sell to Make Association Fannie Mae Compliant

M.B. from Southern California writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

There are 51 units in my building in Southern California. I am aware of a Fannie Mae Guideline that states that no one owner can own more than 10% of the units. In my building, there is an owner who owns 13 units which is 25%+. Because of this, several sales (5 in the last 3 months) have fallen out because the buyers cannot get financing. Question is: is there a legal way for the HOA to sue that unit owner to get him to sell his units until he owns only 5 since he is preventing the sales of any units in the building which, in turn, is also preventing the prices of our units from going up (depressing the building)? Do the other unit owners have any recourse?

Mister Condo replies:

M.B., as you know, I am not an attorney nor am I an expert is California state law so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. For a legal opinion, you need to consult with a local attorney who is verse in your state’s laws regarding HOA and condo association law. My first blush answer to you is that this owner has not done anything wrong. Unless your by-laws state that no one person may own more than 10% of the units, you likely don’t have a leg to stand on. The unit owner didn’t cause Fannie Mae to set its guidelines. In fact, Fannie Mae could change its rules tomorrow to 5% and then other owners would be effected. Unless you could prove that this unit owner was maliciously trying to prevent sales of other units within the HOA, I don’t think there is too much you can do. Non Fannie Mae mortgages do exist. They aren’t as easy to find and they don’t always have as favorable a rate but that really isn’t the concern of the unit owner who simply purchased units as he saw fit. I am sorry I don’t have more positive advice for you but I don’t think there is too much to be done here. Good luck!

FHA Certification for Condo Lapsed and Sought Again

J.S. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are an over 55 condo complex with 39 individual homes. We were FHA certified several years ago. We missed the recertification period. Nobody knows who completed the original certification application. Where do I find the application/forms in order to submit for certification? We meet all of the requirements. Thank You!

Mister Condo replies:

J.S., I am glad your association is seeking to recertify itself with FHA approval. This will make it possible for unit owners to finance or refinance their mortgages with FHA-backed loans that would otherwise not be available. The FHA and HUD have published a guide that you can find online at https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=11-22mlguide.pdf but be forewarned that it isn’t as simple as reading the guide, downloading a few forms, and getting certified. From my experience, it is almost always in the association’s best interest to hire an expert in this area as the guidelines have shifted over the years and that it can be money well spent in avoiding headaches and hassles for the association. I realize that with 39 homes, it may seem simpler and more cost effective to tackle the certification on your own, and you are certainly able to try, but I would be prepared to hire an expert to take you through the process and make sure the association maintains its certification once it is granted. All the best!

Lack of Condo FHA Certification Prevents Mortgage Approval

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T.S. from Virginia writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am trying to sell my condo townhouse that I have owned for many years. I found a buyer and accepted his offer. Right before closing the lender said that they could not complete the mortgage for the buyer because the condo HOA is not FHA compliant. I have never heard of anything like this. Can you explain it to me?

Mister Condo replies:

T.S., I am sorry you find yourself in this predicament. It may be of no consolation to you but you are not alone in your struggle. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is the single largest underwriter of homeowner mortgages. Banks and other lenders that provide mortgages count on the FHA to back the mortgages they write as long as they follow the guidelines laid out by the FHA. Since maintaining FHA compliance is considered a best practice for mortgage-originating banks, you will find that almost all require FHA compliance when providing mortgage funds. Condominiums are different that single family homes when it comes to qualifying for FHA compliance. In order for any individual units within a condo association to be eligible for FHA-backed mortgages, the entire association must be FHA certified. This is a fairly simple process but it does require the association to seek this certification. The FHA does not simply grant it. The association must apply and it must also meet certain guidelines to be approved. The most common reason association either don’t qualify or choose not to try to qualify is an underfunded Reserve Fund. Current FHA guidelines require no less that 10% of the common fees collected each year be deposited into a Reserve Fund. While a great deal of associations exceed that amount, many do not and cannot qualify for FHA certification because of it. There is a myriad of other reasons associations choose not to get FHA certification but the bottom line is that without this certification, traditional mortgage lenders cannot offer individual unit mortgages to borrowers within the association. In this case, it might even cost you your sale unless your buyer can find another method of mortgaging the property or pay cash. You can and should petition your Board to get the association FHA certified as I am sure you are not the only unit owner facing this challenge when trying to sell or refinance their condo. Good luck!

Condo Board Request Unit Owner Mortgage Loan Info

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B.S. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I just received an email from the condo association saying all unit owners have to provide the name of the bank and the mortgage number back to them. Isn’t my mortgage number personal info? Do I have to give it to them?

Mister Condo replies:

B.S., your mortgage loan number is not personal information that you can withhold from the Board. In fact, the mortgage holder of your unit may actually have to be notified of certain decisions the association makes and in order for the association to communicate with them they need to have their information including your loan number. That being said, information like loan numbers can be sensitive and your association should not be careless with the information they collect on unit owners and lenders. Yes, you have to provide the information. If they abuse the information is such a way that you can show damages, you may have a case to sue them but that is highly unlikely, in my opinion. Good luck!

How Does Condo Unit Owner Bankruptcy Effect Common Fee Collection?

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J.A. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

If a condo owner files for bankruptcy, does this mean the unit owner will never ever pay the condo fee as long as s/he resides in the condo? Or is there a time limit?

Mister Condo replies:

J.A., when a unit owner files for protection from creditors through bankruptcy, the association is at risk of losing some or all of the unpaid common fees. Further complicating this issue is the fact that each state has its own set of laws on how much of the delinquency can be collected in other methods than suing the unit owner. Most states allow for a liquidation of the unit once the bankruptcy protection period is over and the dues remain unpaid. That means that if the association follows proper procedures, the state’s court system may allow an auction with the association receiving its share of the proceeds. Again, state laws vary so the actual amount that the association can recoup may be limited to a number of months (6, 9, 12, etc.) and reasonable attorney and collection costs. Some states grant a priority lien (the association gets paid first) while others grant the association simple creditor status and give priority to mortgage holders first. That is why it is typical for a mortgage holder to foreclose against a unit owner instead of an association. However, when real estate prices are lower than the mortgage amount, many banks are not motivated to begin the foreclosure process. This can leave the association quite vulnerable as month after month of common fees go unpaid. My best advice is that should your association find itself owed common fees from a delinquent unit owner, the association should always work with a collection professional. This may be a trained collections agent or the association’s attorney. It is in the best interest of all unit owners that strong collection efforts are taken against the delinquent unit owner. All the best!