Industry News

FHA may lower cap on seller concessions to buyers

Agency rethinking rules on how much financial help sellers can give

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It was easy to miss, but last Friday afternoon the Federal Housing Administration hinted that it is finally ready to resolve a real estate and mortgage issue that has been simmering away on the back burner for the past two years: How much in the way of financial concessions can home sellers provide to buyers using FHA mortgages? It's an important subject, since FHA traditionally has allowed buyers, sellers and their advisers more latitude than any other federal mortgage player when it comes to concessions. In some parts of the country, especially where settlement charges and transfer taxes are high, buyers with little cash on hand after scraping together a down payment routinely depend on FHA's generous standard on concessions from sellers. In January 2010, David Stevens, the FHA commissioner, proposed lowering the ceiling on concessions -- funds moved from the seller's side of the transaction to help defray the costs of the buyer's loan origination and closing expenses ...