Housing forums to discuss FHA financing issue for condo associations

Howard County Housing is hosting three community forums this month beginning Thursday with housing professionals to discuss the growing problem of condo associations loosing Federal Housing Administration financing.

"Condominiums are often a first time home buyer's starter home and without FHA financing, many buyers will now have no way to get approval for a single unit purchase," housing director Tom Carbo said in a statement.

In an effort to lower its mortgage insurance premium risks, FHA has tightened its underwriting standards in recent years and set new criteria for condo associations to qualify for financing.

For example, condo associations with 15 percent or more property owners behind on their association dues do not qualify for FHA financing. More than half of the condo associations in the county have lost FHA certifications because of high delinquency rates, according to data collected by the County Council, which passed legislation earlier this month aimed to help address the problem.

The loss of FHA financing in condo association communities has affected sales throughout the county and real estate experts fear property values will suffer as condo owners turn to cash buyers as a last resort.

The "Protecting Homeownership: Condominium Sales in a Recovering Housing Market" forums will be lead by a panel of industry professionals who will present the facts, potential outcomes and discuss possible solutions.

The forums, which are all scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will be held May 17 at the North Laurel Community Center, May 23 at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City and May 31 in Room 400 of Howard Community College's Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall.

To register, call 410-313-3441 or e-mail housing@howardcountymd.gov.

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