Finding the money to buy a home is tough enough, but raising enough cash to cover the cost of necessary repairs and upgrades can prove even more difficult. The Federal Housing Administration insures loans into which you can roll both the cost of buying and renovating a home. Aside from the FHA, some non-profit groups and aditional government agencies offer similar financing options.
FHA 203k Loan
You can use an FHA 203(k) loan to purchase a home in need of repair. The loan amount is based on the after-repair value of the home. You can buy a one- to four-family home with a 203(k) loan. You can also buy a condo with one of these loans as long as no more than 25 percent of the condos in the complex are currently being financed and refurbished with FHA loans. Aside from repairing homes, you can use an FHA 203(k) loan to demolish and rebuild a house as long as you keep the original foundations in place.
When you buy the home, funds to cover the refurbishment are deposited into an escrow account and released to the contractors to cover each stage of the repairs. The total loan amount can't exceed 110 percent of the combined cost of the purchase price and the estimated repairs. Your lender may require you to keep some extra cash in the escrow account in case the repairs prove to be more expensive than expected. Under FHA rules, the contingency reserves can't exceed 20 percent of the anticipated rehabilitation costs. For some types of repairs, you're required to hire licensed contractors, but you can do some minor repairs yourself.
You can only use a 203(k) loan to cover the cost of necessary rather than luxury repairs and upgrades. Aside from safety-related upgrades, such as installation of new electrical wiring, you can use 203(k) funds for construction of a deck and to repaint your home. You can also use 203(k) funds to cover the cost of installing solar panels and other items that improve energy efficiency. You can't use the money to install a home movie screen, chandeliers and other luxury items that may add value but are not basic essentials.
Some municipalities and state governments offer short-term loans for the purchase of a home in low-income areas. You usually take out one of these loans alongside a conventional mortgage and apply the money toward the down payment and construction costs. In some instances, loans or grants for renovation or construction don't have to be repaid if you remain in the home for a certain number of years.