9/09/2011

Buyers of Long Beach Condominiums Are Using More Conventional Loans--or All Cash

In Long Beach, condominiums tend to be concentrated in several specific areas, and two of these are in the downtown and shoreline area zip codes. Condominiums are a wonderful homeowner opportunity, also attractive to many segments of the buying population for investment/rental reasons as well.

A total of 105 condominiums sold in 90802 zip code (downtown Long Beach, Alamitos Beach and Ocean Blvd.) between June 1 and August 31 in prices ranging from $60,199 to $775,000:
As reported in the MLS, all-cash buyers represented 28 (or 27%) of these sales, most for units under $200,000; 30 units were listed as REO (bank-owned) properties; 35 units were listed as subject to short pay approval; 35 units were listed as standard or equity sales (33%).  Per the MLS, 58% were financed: only 12 were reported as purchased with FHA financing, 2 with VA loans, while 47 units were purchased with conventional financing.
A total of 29 condominiums sold in 90802 zip code (Marina Pacifica, Bluff Park, Belmont Heights, Naples, Belmont Shore) in the same time period, from $134,000 to $665,000.
As reported in the MLS, all-cash represented 7 sales(or 24%); only 1 FHA financing, 19 conventional loans (69%); 16 units were standard equity sales (50%); while 8 were closed as short sale properties and 4 were listed as REO properties.
FHA financing, which used to be the great introduction to the first time buyer's purchase is increasingly a very limited vehicle for financing a condo.  Why? Because homeowner associations are not renewing their FHA project approvals, without which there is no FHA financing in that association. In a check of the HUD project approval list for Long Beach, the associations are dropping off the active list at an alarming rate. For some, it's a problem of having too many delinquent dues--but surprisingly, some HOAs may not even know they have expired as the old Board members have long since left the scene.  For others, they do not know that since 2008 FHA no longer does "spot" approvals, as they once did financing on a unit-by-unit basis, so they are not aware that they are limiting the ability to attract new homeowners. If you are a current condo owner, you should investigate what your association can do to obtain FHA approval--if only to enhance the prospect of obtaining a reverse mortgage if you are in the over-62 age bracket. Reverse mortgages are generally FHA loans, but if your project isn't approved, you will not be able to obtain one.

Both buyers and sellers need to be actively aware of these condo financing issues and investigate in advance their loan options with both FHA and conventional loans. While FHA is 3.5% down, it also has some other expenses rolled into the loan which a conventional loan does not.  There are some sources for 5% down conventional financing, which is more likely to be a better fit. If FHA is your only option because of your overall loan qualification circumstances, be prepared for a very diligent and patient search for the right homeowner association that is FHA approved before you make the offer.  And as we see above, all-cash buyers make up about one-quarter to one-third of the condo buying market in these areas.

Please contact me or visit my website for more information.

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