Buying a HUD home is a great opportunity for those who may not otherwise have the chance to become homeowners. Today’s market is full of HUD homes, and the HUD home-buying process is tailor-made for first-time home buyers and buyers without a large down payment.
However, buying a HUD home is very different process from a traditional home sale. From finding a home to working with an agent, securing financing, and entering into a contract, FHA has its own system for HUD homes.
You can learn a great deal from the following four mistakes that other buyers have made in their HUD home-buying process.
1. Buyers not doing research before looking at a home. Research should be the first step in one of the biggest investments a consumer can make. This can apply to all homebuyers, but it’s especially important when buying a HUD home. The process is different from when you are buying a traditional home, and you need to be informed. Do your research on the neighborhood you want to live in, how much work you’re willing to put into a home, the kind of financing you qualify for, and the HUD home-buying process in general. Make sure you understand the kinds of HUD homes on the market, the online bidding process, and the financing and approval process. Once you start looking at HUD homes, the process can move very quickly, and you need to be prepared.
2. Buyers finding a house before securing financing. Shannon Judd from PEMCO (a HUD asset manager) says she sees buyers every day finding their house before securing financing. The financing can fall through, and those buyers then will see their potential new home snatched up by another buyer.
Lenders have tighter requirements today than they did just a few years ago. Potential buyers are being turned down every day for reasons like not having a high enough credit score or not being able to pull together enough of a down payment. HUD homes have more options for financing, but buyers need to start the financing process before looking for a home. Talk to your real estate agent and your mortgage lender about HUD financing options like the $100 down payment program and the 203(k) rehab and renovation loan that allows you to finance the repairs needed on your HUD home at the time of purchase.
3. Buyers not understanding FHA financing rules. See how many of these mistakes are tied together? If one domino falls, in today’s precarious housing market, the entire deal can fall through. Since the FHA lending and buying process is so different from buying a traditional home, you need to understand your options. To buy a HUD home, you probably don’t need the standard 20 percent down payment on a 30-year fixed-rate-mortgage. Talk to your lender about FHA financing specifics and find out for what kind of mortgage you may qualify.
Also, make sure your lender has experience with the FHA and HUD home-buying process. Judd says she’s seen buyers who should have been able to purchase a HUD home have their chances spoiled by a lender who didn’t understand the specifics of the processes. Ensure your lender offers FHA products that include repair escrow. This is necessary to finance the minimum property repairs required to be completed on the home after closing to be FHA compliant. In addition, make sure to tell your lender you are looking at HUD homes. HUD will give you a full FHA as-is appraisal at no cost to you, so your lender doesn’t need to make you pay for an appraisal.
4. Buyers not working with agents who understand the HUD home-buying process. There are a lot of real estate agents out there, and all of them want your business. A good way to start looking for an agent is to ask for recommendations from friends and family. But if you’re looking to buy a HUD home, you need an agent with HUD experience. Get a few recommendations, and start interviewing. Ask how long the agent has been in real estate and how long he or she has been working with HUD homes. Ask if he or she has experience in and knowledge of the neighborhood in which you want to live. And, as you should have done a little bit of research by now, ask the agent to explain the process in your state—and make sure it matches up with what you know. Your agent is supposed to be your advocate and your guide through the HUD home-buying process. Make that agent prove his or her knowledge and worth to you.
Ilyce Glink is a best-selling author, real estate columnist, and web series host. She is the managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog and CEO of Think Glink Media. Follow her on Twitter: @Glink