Having a Hard Time Finding the “Perfect” Home in Seattle? Consider an FHA 203k Rehab Loan!

Some of my Seattle area clients have been searching for the “just right” home for months.  With a good portion of the available inventory being bank owned, many of the homes have been left in less than desirable condition or perhaps are overdue for a little TLC. If you’ve found a home that needs some work that’s located in a neighborhood you’d like to call home, an FHA 203k rehab loan may be worth your consideration.

FHA 203k loans allow a borrower to finance almost anything to improve the home (exceptions are luxury items, such as swimming pools, hot tubs, fire pits, etc.). Improvements that are allowed are:

  • structural alterations and reconstruction
  • modernization and improvement to the home’s function
  • elimination of health or safety hazards
  • changes that improve appearance and eliminate obsolescence
  • reconditioning or replacing plumbing; repairing or installing a well and/or septic; repairing/replacing electrical issues
  • adding, repairing or replacing roofing, gutters and downspouts
  • adding or replacing floors and/or floor treatments
  • major landscape works and site improvements
  • enhancing accessibility for a disabled person
  • making energy conservation improvements
  • room additions

The cost of the improvements are added to the sales price of the home.  For example, if you find a fixer with a sales price of $250,000 and it needs $40,000 in repairs or improvements, you can finance up to 96.5% of $290,000 (FHA loans currently have a minimum down payment of 3.5%).  

Many home buyers might buy a “fixer” knowing they can do a lot of the work “down the road” or as they can afford it.  With an FHA 203k rehab loan, the work is done after closing and financed with the “purchase money” first mortgage.  This means you’ll have the benefit of current low FHA rates instead of financing improvements with a Home Depot or Lowes credit card, not to mention the income tax benefits.

I recommend starting with a prequalification to see how much mortgage payment you are comfortable with and that you qualify for.  If you’re buying a home anywhere in Washington, I can help you.  Once you know what you qualify for, you can start shopping for homes that you’d like to improve (it doesn’t need to be a foreclosure or a total fixer). By the way, if you need a recommendation to a real estate agent, please let me know.

Once you’ve found a home that you’re interested in, it’s not too early to meet with a HUD approved consultant for a feasibility study. In fact, you can do this before you’re in contract.  This step is very important.  The consultant will help you identify what items HUD will require to be repaired to meet lending standards and make recommendations for improvements and consider your “wish list” for items to be done to the home.  You also want to make sure not to “over improve” your home for the area as the finished product will need to appraise for the adjusted sales price (sales price plus improvements and cost of the 203k loan).  A qualified consultant can help guide you through this part of the process and I’m happy to recommend someone if you’re buying a home anywhere in Washington.

FHA 203k loans tend to take a little longer to process and close than a standard FHA transaction. The total loan amount (sales price plus improvements) is limited to FHA loan loans which is currently $567,500 (until October 1, 2011) in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. 

Questions? Please contact me – your next home with your new kitchen is waiting for you. Mortgage Master Service Corporation is a Direct Endorsed HUD approved lender.

Click here for your personal mortgage rate quote for homes located in Washington.


  1. how long does it take to get approved

    • Hi Earlene,
      If you’re referring to an FHA 203k rehab loan, it doesn’t take you – the borrower – any longer to get approved than it would any other type of mortgage. I recommend getting preapproved to help streamline the process (provide an application and supporting income and asset documentation).

      The mortgage process for the property with an FHA 203k mortgage does take a bit longer than a “regular” mortgage depending on the type of repairs.

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