A condo can be a great choice for a first-time buyer. Also great for first-time buyers? FHA Loans. Many FHA Loans require down payments as small as 3.5% of the purchase price of the property. They also create loan opportunities for people with less-than-perfect credit or other financial challenges.
The low down payment comes with some strings attached, of course, mostly in the form of an upfront mortgage insurance premium as well as an annual mortgage insurance premium charged monthly. (Full details about FHA Loans can be found on the HUD website, here: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/sfh/fharesourcectr.)
In addition to this catch, FHA Loans are only available for FHA-approved condos. The FHA wants to help buyers invest in assets which are worthy of investment in the first place. FHA requirements for condos are fairly stringent, and by some estimates upwards of 50% of condo associations fail to meet FHA guidelines.
Knowing this up front can save you a lot of time and hassle condo shopping. While you should consult with condo associations to determine whether or not they’re approved for FHA loans, you can also use an online resource to help you with your search. Here is a link to an online database of FHA-approved condos:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHA Condo Search: