The Home Buyer's Korner

Information presented should be used for educational purposes only.

October 22nd, 2015

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Renovation Loans for Property Investor

As a Real Estate Investor, having funding options for your projects is vital to your business. You may not want to use the same type of loan for each project as your needs may differ in the amount of funds that you may need and the terms in which you are willing to agree. There are several types of loans targeted for specific goals within an investment project. For Investors, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan may be an option that you might want to consider for your next project.

The Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan is a financing option offered through Fannie Mae, which “provides funds for both the Purchase and Renovation of a home packaged into one mortgage loan which only requires a single closing”.

Fannie Mae explains this program with the following description: “The HomeStyle Renovation mortgage enables a borrower to obtain a purchase transaction mortgage or a limited cash-out refinance mortgage and receive funds to cover the costs of repairs, remodeling, renovations or energy efficient improvements to the property.

There are no required improvements or restrictions on the types of repairs allowed or a minimum dollar amount for the repairs. Repairs or improvements, however, must be permanently affixed to the real property and add value to the property.

This HomeStyle Renovation financing from Fannie Mae is similar to the FHA 203K loan. In the past, many Investors considered the FHA 203K loan as a way to finance their projects, however the loan product is not a good fit for investors and most were turned down due to strict rules and regulations.

The Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan is very much like the FHA 203K loan, only geared more for Investors”.

It’s also with noting, that FHA no longer offers financing to property in which aren’t owner occupied, and therefore the program has long been unavailable to real estate investors.

The above said, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan is VERY similar to the FHA 203K loan, but also very different. One of the main differences being that the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan is “Investor Friendly”. Both loans are one time close renovation loans, but they do have different requirements and different restrictions. Let’s view the comparisons of each program.

The FHA 203K loans are offered in two versions. There is the Full version which allows for adding on rooms, converting the property into a Multi-Family or a Multi-Family into a Single Family. It also allows one to repair structural issues, alterations and any type of major renovations, as long as they fall under the guidelines and are over $35,000. This full version is also required if the renovation will take longer than 90 days to complete, but not more than six months, and the rehab will require more than 2 payments to the contractor or contractors. A consultant is needed when using the full version of the FHA 203K loan.

Then there is the “Streamlined” version which is used for minor repairs under $35,000. Because there is a lot less paperwork, normally an individual can successfully complete the tasks and paperwork for this type of loan without using a consultant. However, some repairs such as structural will not qualify for the Streamlined 203K, but may qualify for the Full version.

The FHA 203K loans require the applicant to have a FICO score of at least 620 to 640 at a minimum and it has a down payment requirement of 3.5 percent. With a FHA 203K loan, the maximum amount you can borrow is the lesser of either: 1) The as-is value of the property plus repair costs, or 2) 110 percent of the estimated value of the property once you do the repairs. With a streamlined loan, you can obtain a loan for the purchase price of the home plus up to $35,000. The LTV required for this loan is up to 96.5 percent.

The FHA 203K loan is for someone who intends to occupy the dwelling for a period of at least 12 months unless they are a qualified non-profit organization. This can be a great way to buy a property as an investment only if you are willing to live in the property for at least 12 months. As an investor, if willing, you can also consider rehabbing a multifamily property, live in one unit and rent out the others. Additionally, the FHA 203K loan requires that you obtain mortgage insurance.  Here is a list of the type of properties that will qualify under the FHA 203K loan:

  1. Existing homes that are at least one year old.
  2. Condos- if the condo community has been FHA approved for financing for owner occupants. The loan will cover only the portion of the rehab that is not already taken care of by the existing HOA.
  3. Single family, duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes. In addition, you can rehab a single family into a multifamily (up to 4 units) or downsize a multifamily (turn a quadplex into a duplex or triplex for example).
  4. Mixed- use properties such as a combination of residential and commercial as long as the residential portion is the only part being renovated under the loan. 

Unlike the FHA 203K loan, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan is a conventional loan and the minimum down payment required is 5 percent. This minimum down payment requirement may vary. For example, you have the option to refuse to buy mortgage insurance; however you may have to pay up to 20 percent as a down payment, if you choose to refuse it. You will also need a minimum FICO score of 680 to obtain the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan. The maximum loan that may be obtained is $417,000 dollars. There is an option called the High Balance Feature which allows some areas to borrow more than the maximum loan amount.

Any work that is allowed under the FHA 203K loan is also allowed under the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan, however, there are more advantages under the Fannie Mae Homestyle program. With the Fannie Mae Homestyle loan, you may add features that are considered “Luxury” features such as swimming pools, brick grills, outside bars, outside kitchens, spas, etc. These luxury features have to be permanently attached to the home and the features must add value to the home.

The HUGE difference between the two loans is that the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan, unlike the 203K loan, is a little more flexible and allows you to not only rehab a primary residence, but also a second home, condo without a Certificate of Occupancy, or an investment property. What does this mean for Investors? This means that YES, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan is Investor Friendly and will allow Investors to purchase and/or rehab their investment properties under this program.

The LTV required for a HomeStyle loan is up to 95 percent for primary residences, up to 90 percent for a second home and up to 80 percent for acquisition of investment properties. (The acquisition includes purchase, plus rehab costs.)

Now that the similarities and differences of the FHA 203K loan and the Fannie Mae Homestyle Loan have been reviewed, we can now view the pros and cons of the Fannie Mae Homestyle Loan. Each Investor has their own personal preferences of how to structure and complete their rehab projects and some Investors prefer Hard Money Loans, some prefer traditional or conventional bank loans, and some would prefer the FHA 203K loan if it were optional for Investors. Now, some Investors will opt for the Fannie Mae Homestyle loan.

But how would an Investor know if this is the right choice for their next project or if going to a Hard Money Lender may be better? When it is time to decide which direction you would like to take when it comes to funding for your next project, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Here are some of the pros and cons of the Fannie Mae Homestyle Loan:


  1. Can obtain funding for both the purchase and the renovation of a project in one mortgage and go to one closing.
  2. A low bank interest rates and points compared to Hard Money loans As an Investor, you can borrow up to 80 percent of the acquisition or up to 50 percent of the “as-completed” value or After Repaired Value, otherwise known as an ARV or (whichever is lesser). Example 1: The as is value (purchase price) of a property is $50,000 and the repair value is also $50,000 which makes a total of $100,000 in acquisition. Fannie Mae will lend you $80,000 which is 80 percent of the acquisition. Example 2: The value (purchase price) of the property is $100,000 and the repair value is also $100,000 which makes a total of $200,000 in acquisition. However, the “as-completed” value or ARV appraisal is $300,000. Fannie Mae will lend you $150,000 which is 50 percent of the “as-completed” value or ARV.
  3. ARV is accessible as soon as repairs are completed through a cash out refinance or home equity line of credit, meaning that new found equity can be used to purchase the next property.
  4. An unbiased appraisal will be ordered by the lender to confirm value.
  5. The appraised value on the Front-End will eventually become “As-Is” value when the project is complete, which can be borrowed against.
  6. 15 year and 30 year terms available
  7. Any type of renovation or repair is eligible as long as it is permanently affixed to the property and adds value.
  8. Have 12 full months to complete the renovations after the loan closes.
  9. Depending on the project, mortgage insurance may not be needed.
  10. Unlike Hard Money Loans, where you have to rush to complete the renovation of a property and then sell it FAST to obtain the ARV to pay off the Hard Money Loan before you are hit with more points, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan gives you more of a cushion. However, just like with any other type of loan, there are some cons to obtaining a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan.


  1. Unlike most Hard Money Loans, credit is needed to acquire a HomeStyle loan. You will need a minimum FICO score of 680 and could require as much as 720 or more.
  2. Fannie Mae will require many eyes on your renovation project such as appraisers and other representatives of Fannie Mae, possibly delaying your project.
  3. There is much more paperwork to complete than a Hard Money Loan or a traditional loan.
  4. Fannie Mae will monitor and manage your draw schedule.
  5. Depending on the type of work needed, you may need mortgage insurance.
  6. Fannie Mae will require you and your contractor to both sign a Fannie Mae issued a contract between you and your contractor before the loan is disbursed.
  7. Your contractor will have to meet Fannie Mae’s guidelines and standards and if Fannie Mae does not view your contractor as being “qualified”, you will have to find another contractor.
  8. Plans and specifications of the renovation must be written in full detail and submitted to Fannie Mae before the loan is disbursed. “The plans and specifications should fully describe all work to be done and provide an indication of when various jobs or stages of completion will be scheduled (including both the start and job completion dates).”
  9. It may take a longer period of time to get approved for the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan than it would a Hard Money loan or a traditional bank loan.
  10. There is a limit to the amount that can be borrowed, which is $417,000 with the exception of some areas.

We can assume that there may be other small cons when deciding to choose the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan rather than a traditional loan or a Hard Money loan. Once again, it really all comes down to what is your preference and what is best for the project at hand.

Let’s create a scenario:

A property investor wants to purchase a property that is $100,000. The renovation will cost $100,000. He goes to a Mortgage Broker to obtain the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan. Fannie Mae’s appraiser appraises the ARV of the property to be $400,000 dollars after reviewing the investor’s renovation plan. Fannie Mae approves the loan and allows the property investor to borrow $160,000 which is 80% of the $200,000 total acquisition ($100,000 to purchase and $100,000 for repairs). The investor has a 30 year term mortgage of $160,000 dollars, and has 12 months to renovate the property. The property investor renovates the property within 6 months and decides that it is now time to sell the property. John lists the property for $400,000 but has no luck finding a buyer for the property yet. John sees a nice deal in one of the best areas of his city. He wants to purchase this property as soon as possible before another Investor gets to it before him. It is only $75,000 and it looks like he can make a profit of 200,000 if he invests in the property. He doesn’t want to borrow another loan and he wishes that he could have sold his home that he just renovated through Fannie Mae, so that he could have the money to purchase this new property. But wait! The property investor IS able to purchase this property with the equity in his recently renovated property. Because the ARV was appraised to be $400,000 dollars when he first applied for the loan (which it really is worth $400,000), Fannie Mae now sees this $400,000 value to be John’s “as-completed” value because all renovations are complete and therefore, Fannie Mae will allow John to take the money that he needs to purchase his next property from his own equity. In the next 6 months, John renovates his 2nd property and sells both the 1st property which is financed through Fannie Mae and the 2nd property and pays off his mortgage and makes a HUGE profit without losing money on any extra time sensitive points that he would have faced if he would have borrowed from a Hard Money Lender.

Looking at the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Guidelines on paper could be a little confusing, but hopefully the information shared above can shed some light and help Investors to make a decision. If you would like to learn more about the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan, you may download the HomeStyle Product Overview from Fannie Mae’s website here.


Your Home Purchasing or Refinancing & Renovation Tools,

Home Improvements, Home Renovations,

Mortgage Loan Officers, Real Estate Agents & General Contractors

are ready to assist you with your home purchase.

Here are just a few of the home improvements

you might consider with any Home Renovation loan

Repair or replace a roof

Install, replace or repair gutters and downspouts

Replace, repair or upgrade your HVAC system

Repair or replace plumbing

Install, repair or replace electrical systems

Kitchen remodeling (including the purchase and installation of appliances)

Bathroom remodeling, Full interior painting, Total exterior painting

Repair or replace a septic system and/or well

Disability access (wheelchair ramp, elevator, widen doorways)

Build, repair or replace deck, patio or porch

Basement waterproofing and finishing

Abatement/Stabilization of lead-based paint hazards

Replace old windows, Room additions, Finish an attic

Add a second story to your home

Replace a termite damaged sill plate (a water-damaged sill plate also)

Possible landscaping items such as correction of grading & drainage problems,

tree removal, repair a driveway and sidewalks

FHA 203K

Your Home Purchasing or Refinancing & Renovation Tool

Mortgage Loan Officers, Real Estate Agents & General Contractors

are ready to assist you with your home purchase


The Conventional Alternative to FHA 203K

Great for Real Estate Investors and Second Home Renovations

Mortgage Loan Officers, Real Estate Agents & General Contractors

are ready to assist you with your home purchase


Up to $10K for Home Improvements, Renovations or a Simple Remodel

Mortgage Loan Officers, Real Estate Agents & General Contractors are ready to assist you


Organizing your home shopping experience affords a wise decision-making process.

This simple home inspection tool makes your ultimate buying decision a smart one.

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