Thursday, May 14, 2009

Manufactured Home Loans: Facts For The Borrower

Manufactured Home Loans: Facts For The Borrower

Most lenders view the manufactured home loan as a “nuisance” loan. No matter what kind of manufactured home you have (even if it has tile roof and drywall interior), you’re going to be lumped into the “trailer” category in the mind of the loan officer. This is just a “loser loan” for him. A lot of work, and not enough commission! Plus there are so many compliance hoops to jump through and the compliance checklist is often daunting to the novice. And for the typical lending office, very rarely do the support staff know what they are doing. The processors don’t even understand the vocabulary much less the fine details, appraisers sometimes submit their data on the wrong form and even underwriters often fail to manage the file properly.

Borrowers complain that a new hiccup appears almost daily—-and the loan seems to take forever. Then there are the fine points of the flood zones, if the home is serviced by wells and septic, finding comparative comps, missing HUD plates, IBTS letters, metes and bounds, missing a data compliance plate, dealer to site verification and the list seems endless. Oh and let’s not forget about the real doozy— the foundation certification.

FHA loans on manufactured homes, whether new construction or existing, new loan or refinance, require an engineer’s stamped certification that the foundation meets the requirements of The Permanent Foundation Guide to Manufactured Housing dated September 1996 (PFGMH) aka THE HUD HANDBOOK /BIBLE.

This is a nightmare for borrowers and lenders because the HUD Handbook is even misunderstood by most engineers. When confronted with a non-compliant foundation, most homeowners say, “But my home met all the local requirements of the building department when I bought it in 1983!” Unfortunately compliance with the local building jurisdiction is not evidence that the home meets the national standard. Because requirements vary from city to county to state, the certification letter establishes some semblance of continuity. Engineers even have conflicting opinions because the handbook is vague, contradictory and very unclear on exactly what is required and what is not permitted. Essentially it is opinion-based and two different engineers can look at the same foundation with different results.

Are your eyes glazed over yet? We won’t even start on the appraisal and all the details associated with that because that would lead to a whole new laundry list of issue. First things, first, if you need a manufactured home loan, make sure your home qualifies:

The basic checklist starts with the following:Must have a floor area of not less than 400 square feet. So if you are living in a “park model”, it’s not going to work.Must be classified and subject to taxation as real estate.

* Must be built on and remains on a permanent chassis. This means it came in on wheels, but the wheels and axles have to be removed.

* Must be above the 100 year return frequency flood elevation. So if you are living in a flood plain, the loan is probably a no go!

* Must be built after June 15, 1976. The best way to check if you don’t have the paperwork. If you can find 2×4” aluminum plates at the back of your home that start with three letters, followed by 6-7 numbers, this is a good sign!

* The foundation system must meet the guidelines published in the Permanent Foundations Guide for Manufactured Housing, dated September 1996. A certification attesting to compliance must be obtained from a licensed professional engineer. And if your foundation does not meet the requirement, there are ways to make repairs to bring your home in compliance.

* The manufactured home must not have been installed or occupied previously at any other site or location.

* Additions or structural modifications must not put the home at risk.

The next thing you need to do is to team up with a manufactured home loan specialist. The big recognizable name houses are often the very ones that consider your home a “trailer” and don’t have the support staff to take the loan from A to Z with ease. Get straight answers and professional expertise right from the beginning by using a company that has resources in all aspects of manufactured housing.

By: Ray Henke

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