The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has lowered its owner-occupancy requirement for condominiums, marking progress in an issue believed to be preventing homebuyers from entering the real estate market. The action, announced in a mortgagee letter issued this week, lowers the requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent, effective immediately.
 
Condo projects older than 12 months with at least 35 percent owner occupancy (and less than 50 percent) can qualify for FHA certification, provided other conditions are met. From FHA’s letter:

  • Applications must be submitted for processing and review under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Review and Approval Process (HRAP) option;
  • Financial documents must provide for funding of replacement reserves for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance in an account representing at least 20 percent of the budget;
  • No more than 10 percent of the total units can be in arrears (more than 60 days past due) on their condominium association fee payments; and
  • Three years of acceptable financial documents (defined in the letter) must be provided.

The action is a win for the real estate industry, which has been advocating for changes, and homebuyers, especially first-time buyers for whom condos are the most affordable housing ...


Halloween can be scary, but having the right insurance coverage can take some of the fright out of the night. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), your insurance policies provide financial protection for a host of disasters whether they occur on Halloween or any other day.

“If you’re worried about Halloween tricksters who may cause damage to your home, there’s probably little to fear,” said the  Insurance Information Institute. “But do contact your insurance professional with questions or concerns about your homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Standard homeowners and renters insurance will provide coverage for the following:

Vandalism – In the event your home or your personal possessions are damaged by neighborhood tricksters, homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for vandalism and malicious mischief. You are on your own, however, when it comes to removing the toilet paper from your front yard!

Fire – If a jack-o-lantern or other decoration goes up in flames and damages your property, your homeowners or renters policy will cover fire-related losses. And, should the blaze make your home uninhabitable, additional living expenses (ALE) coverage will pay for alternate accommodations, such as a hotel, while your home is being repaired.

Injuries – The liability portion of a homeowners or renters policy comes ...


The start of a new season means that it's time to clean up the house, swap out clothes in your closets, and break out the seasonal tools in the garage. Check out the following tricks that will prepare any homeowner with the organizing skills necessary to keep everything tidy year-round.

Store It In The Fall

1. Garden tools and pots: Hose off dirty gardening gear and stack pots in tiers. For pots with fragile surfaces, layer newspaper between vessels to protect from scratches and chips. Outdoor garden storage benches and cabinets are also great for storing tools and pots over the winter. To find gear easily come spring, group like items together.
2. Summer clothes: To free up precious closet real estate, measure the number of feet of hanging space your clothes take up and get a garment rack wide enough to accommodate it all. Stow in a dry basement or attic. And be sure to clean clothes before putting them away—even if they look spot-free. Stains that seem invisible can oxidize over time and be hard to get out if left untreated.
3. Beach towels, picnic blankets, outdoor linens, and tableware: Clear the linen closet of summer beach towels and outdoor tablecloths and place mats; stash in giant plastic tubs. Cradle outdoor dishes and cups on top. Park the bin in a basement or attic.

Store It In The Winter

1. Garden rakes: Hang long-handled rakes and garden tools from ...


The Plan Collection (TPC) notes that having a haunted-looking house might be just the look you want once a year, but what about once Halloween's over? The company shares their list of the top 10 elements of a house plan design that can make any home the scariest in the neighborhood along with advice on how to fix them.

1. Lifeless Color Scheme. Dark paint colors, when used as the primary exterior color, can make almost any home look dreary, uninviting. Lighter paint colors that complement the design of your house are often the better choice for the exterior of your home. Reserve your use of darker color to areas that emphasize special features such as the trim or windows.

2. Ghostly Lighting. No one wants to knock on the door of a house without exterior lighting, but lighting features that cause heavy shadows along walk-ways or at entry points - creating that fear that something or someone might be lurking just ahead -- can be even worse. Redirecting the light features or using lower wattage bulbs is often an easy way to chase the ghosts away. If investing in new lighting, consider lamps that emphasize the beauty of your home's exterior features.

3. Eerie Architectural Style. Remember the rather "unique" look of the home in The Addams Family? Norman Bates' house on the hill in Psycho? Certain architectural styles - such as Victorian and the Second Empire style with ...


The Path to Homeownership- On a Budget

Oct 18
3:28
PM
Category | Blog

For some families buying a home can seem out of reach because their income just isn’t enough. On top of financial stress, the competitive market may make buyers feel like they will never find a home they can afford. If you dream of buying a house but have lost hope because you don’t think you can afford it, don't give up. There are several things you can do to help make your dream of buying a home into a reality.

Search in More Affordable Neighborhoods
When trying to buy a house in a competitive market, you might see high-end houses snapped up in minutes. In order to avoid bidding wars and having to either walk away or agree to a price way outside your budget, consider looking at areas with less interest. This includes neighborhoods you may have written off—you may find a hidden gem in an area you originally ignored.
 
Consider neighborhoods farther away from downtown, which often have lower house values. You could get more bang for your buck in terms of home size and outdoor space in these areas. Some neighborhoods on public transit lines may end up being quicker commutes than areas closer to downtown metros.

Save for Amenities
If switching neighborhoods isn’t an option, scale back on your must-have list. A great home doesn't have to come with all the bells and whistles and you can save up to make gradual improvements after you purchase your home. Several aspects of residential ...


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