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MortgageReal Estate

HUD announces new rules for down payment assistance on FHA mortgages

Claims "certain governmental agencies" may be operating outside existing rules

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that it is issuing new rules for down payment assistance on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration.

The FHA currently requires borrowers to provide a minimum down payment (or Minimum Required Investment, referred to by HUD as MRI) of 3.5% of the home’s purchase price. FHA rules allow family members, employers, and “governmental entities” to contribute to a borrower’s minimum down payment.

And “governmental entities” are apparently the issue at hand.

According to HUD, the FHA will now require certain additional documentation for borrowers who are using funds from another person or entity to “satisfy any portion of the MRI,” including specific documentation for when a “governmental entity provides down payment assistance to qualified borrowers within the governmental entity’s jurisdiction.”

The new rules are laid out in an FHA mortgagee letter titled “Downpayment Assistance and Operating in a Governmental Capacity.”

According to HUD, this “clarification” of the current documentation rules “should assist mortgagees in determining whether governmental entities providing gifts or secondary financing, or both, towards borrowers’ MRI are doing so consistent with FHA requirements.”

As the FHA states in its mortgagee letter, the current FHA handbook requires mortgagees to confirm that a “governmental entity is operating in its governmental capacity but, except for requiring a source of funds letter, does not specify the necessary documentation that demonstrates support for such a conclusion.”

According to HUD, that lack of “necessary documentation” is leading to some unnamed “entities” skirting the rules.

“It has come to FHA’s attention that certain Governmental Entities may be acting beyond the scope of any inherent or granted governmental authority in providing funds towards the Borrower’s MRI in circumstances that would violate Handbook 4000.1, the National Housing Act, and is contrary to established law,” the FHA said in the mortgagee letter.

In order to remedy this situation, the FHA is now stating that its current documentation requirements need to be “clarified to provide Mortgagees with specific guidance regarding documentation that will give greater assurances that the standards for providing the MRI have been satisfied by the Governmental Entity.”

According to HUD and the FHA, the new rules took effect on April 18, 2019.

To read HUD’s announcement of the rule change, click here.

And for a full look at how the rules are actually changing and what documentation will now be required, click here.

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