If you’re a first-time buyer with a moderate income and not much cash for a down payment on a condo, the availability of Federal Housing Administration financing is a big deal.
Not only do you need just a 3.5 percent down payment, but FHA is also far more flexible on credit compared with other financing sources. With a sub-par FICO score and a high debt-to-income ratio, banks and big investors such as Fannie Mae don’t want to know you. FHA welcomes you with open arms. The challenge for condo purchasers in the past several years, however, has been finding a condo project that is certified by FHA as qualified for mortgages on individual units. Because of controversial eligibility rules imposed by the agency in recent years, the number of certified projects has plunged, with barely 20 percent of previously eligible condo communities now able to offer FHA loans on units, according to real-estate industry estimates.