Real Estate Goes To Rehab: The FHA 203k

Remember when I patronizingly stated that “short sale”, “foreclosure”, and “REO” would be THE buzzwords for all things real estate in 2008?

Add another to your repertoire: Rehab Loan.

When used in the proper context, the hint at mentioning two words, “Rehab Loan”, will make you look uber-hip and urban chic in the innocent eyes of friends and recently met acquaintances at baptisms, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, and wedorces (weddings guaranteed to become divorces).

Introduced in 1978, the FHA 203k Loan (aka Rehab Loan) was created to promote and facilitate the restoration and preservation of the nation’s existing housing stock.

In other words, the powers that used to be realized that the creation of the suburb (“there he goes again”) destroyed previously established neighborhoods, caused deep urban decay, and gave birth to the negative connotation now associated with “inner city” and decided they needed to provide incentives to homeowners and homeowners-to-be before things got really hot (no pun intended).

According to those who were already in the biz back when I was sporting Z Cavaricci’s and a bolo tie, the FHA 203k Loan made some noise in the 1990’s, but practically disappeared in the new century when lenders decided it was a good idea to lend Flaco – the handyman who “stated” that he made $180,000/year – $500,000 to buy a 3/2 single-family residence con dos efichen in Westchester.

Fast forward to 2008.  The credit crunch, the mortgage meltdown, the slowdown in new construction, the vanishing act of second mortgages in the form of a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), and people like Flaco force the FHA 203k Loan to come out of its shell.

What is the FHA 203k Loan?

Most lenders will not close a traditional loan and release the mortgage proceeds unless the condition and value of the subject property provide adequate loan security (collateral). When rehabilitation is involved, a lender typically requires the improvements to be completed before a long-term mortgage is made.

When a homebuyer wants to purchase a house in need of repairs, the homebuyer usually purchases the property with cash or has to obtain financing first to purchase the dwelling, additional financing to do the rehabilitation construction, and a permanent mortgage when the work is completed to pay off the interim loans with a permanent mortgage. Often times, the interim financing (acquisition and construction loans) involves high interest rates and short amortization periods.

The FHA 203k Loan was designed to address this situation. The borrower can get just one mortgage loan, at a long-term fixed (or adjustable) rate, to finance both the acquisition and the rehabilitation of the property.

Why the FHA 203k Loan?

In today’s real estate market, a market ripe with bank and corporate-owned foreclosures that sit vacant and often in disrepair, the FHA 203k Loan is just what Betty Ford would have ordered. Why? The mortgage amount of the FHA 203k Loan is based on the projected value of the property with the work completed. In other words, the property’s current condition is not as important as the property’s condition after the necessary repairs have been completed.

The FHA 203k Loan allows homebuyers to purchase downtrodden properties that lenders offering traditional loan products wouldn’t touch with your very own hands.

How can FHA 203k Loans be used?

FHA 203K Loans can be used in one of three ways:

•    To purchase a dwelling and the land on which the dwelling is located and rehabilitate it.

•    To purchase a dwelling on another site, move it onto a new foundation on the mortgaged property and rehabilitate it.

•    To refinance existing indebtedness and rehabilitate such a dwelling.

What improvements are eligible under the FHA 203k Loan?

There are numerous improvements eligible under the FHA 203k Loan. However, luxury items and improvements that do not become a permanent part of the real property are not eligible as a cost rehabilitation.

The following are just a few of the improvements allowed under the FHA 203k Loan:

•    bathroom remodels
•    kitchen remodels (including permanently installed appliances)
•    new exterior siding
•    adding a second story to the home
•    upgrading plumbing
•    upgrading electrical
•    upgrading HVAC system
•    interior painting
•    exterior painting
•    bedroom additions
•    new flooring
•    new deck/patio
•    new doors and windows

In Closing

Homebuyers, are you looking to purchase, repair, and/or improve that bank-owned foreclosure that’s “en fuego”, but has a great layout and is located within the boundaries of that “A” school district you so desperately want your underachieving child to be a part of?

Are you looking for the possibility to gain substantial equity from day one (even with current market conditions) with a low fixed rate government backed mortgage?

Don’t let the current condition of that “fixer upper” scare you. The FHA 203k Loan just might be the right loan product for you.

Adrian Salgado is a Realtor Associate at RED I Realty in Coral Gables, FL. He can be reached at 305-491-7179 or


Filed under Foreclosures

10 responses to “Real Estate Goes To Rehab: The FHA 203k

  1. manolo

    Why u messing with my Westchester, dog?

  2. Good idea, I hadn’t thought of 203k loans.

  3. I wasn’t even aware that the 203K loan existed. I am so glad there are people like you who can inform the rest of us. I think that purchase I have been eyeing for a long time just got a lot more appealing!

  4. Adrian Salgado


    The 203k is going to be a big part of the recovery.

    Mississippi Land,

    If you read, I’ll keep writing.


  5. Adrian Salgado


    i got nothin’ but love for westchester.

    isn’t that where “players” go to raise a family and send their children to the finest private schools this side of lincoln marti, la progresiva, and champagnat?

  6. Nice blog.Keep on going with good work.

  7. Pingback: *Foreclosure Opportunity* - 15946 NW 81 CT Miami Lakes, FL 33016 - $409,000 « A Miami Real Estate Blog

  8. Don’t foget Columbu y San Brendan…

  9. Thank you very much for your post. Absolutely excellent information and very useful for me. Great done and keep posted. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  10. Ela

    Where can I get a 203K loan in Miami? I’ve had a hard time finding a bank that does it.

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