Condo Loans Becoming Stricter

With the tightening up of mortgage rules and the returning caution of lenders (finally!) we are seeing a throw-back of some of the more vigilant practices that we were once used to.

Existing condo owners may be glad of the fact that some of this new thinking discourages loans for prospective condo owners who are buying explicitly for condo rentals (as opposed to condo loans that are for owner-occupied sales).However, a group has sponsored state legislation which, if passed, will protect non-resident condo owners from having to give up their rental rights.

Many condos do have rules about the amount of rental units they will allow and it is these numbers that a lender may be interested in.

Many lenders will only offer a mortgage if a complex rules that at least 50% of its units would be available for owner occupied residency only. With the stricter philosophy on loans now, some lenders even push their stipulation for this figure up as high as needing a guaranteed 70% residency requirement.

This could present two problems; firstly it will become more difficult for condo owners to sell their homes, as many rental options will be forfeited due to financing restrictions. Secondly, as this becomes a realization, the Home Owner’s Association of a condo community may wish to limit or lower the number of rental condos permitted in their complex and/or permitted to be held by one owner.

There is no doubt that to live in a condo unit that is strictly owner-occupied is a far different experience from living next door to a rental unit. There are some parts of condo living which naturally spill into the neighbor’s life: late nights, balcony noise, slamming doors and yelling etc.

Not that all renters will act like this, but on a two week holiday, people tend to let go of their inhibitions! Even long term renters do not have the same vested interest in their rental home as a resident-owner might.

It is partly for this reason that many condo managements have rules about the percentage-proportion of rental units that will be allowed in their complex. When a prospective buyer views a condo unit that is up for sale, it is very important to also ‘view’ the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) rules.

The rules will state what percentage of units is allowed to be rental units. If you are planning to be a full time resident, you will want a complex which has a low percentage of rentals. (You also need to ask if the condos above you, below you, and to either side of you are rental units. This may be the reason why the condo unit is up for sale!)

The enormous increase in foreclosures has brought many more rental investors into the market, and one of the easiest rental options is a condo, as much of the maintenance is already taken care of.

High percentages of rental condos in a complex can de-value the sale price of a unit; it can also make it more difficult to sell. Many of the rental condo owners are hoping that they will be protected if their HOA decides to change the rules of rental percentages in their complex.

To this end, a group of real estate agents in California have sponsored a bill that protects condo-owners rights. The bill will allow condo-owners to continue owning their unit under the same HOA rules as when they bought the condo, even if the rules change by consensus.

This bill is mainly to protect rental rights that were in place at the time of purchase and may now be jeopardized; however, this bill, if passed, will be a useful tool for all condo owners to access.