The Section 203(h) program allows the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure mortgages made by qualified lenders to victims of a major disaster who have lost their homes and are in the process of rebuilding or buying another home.
Through Section 203(h), the Federal Government helps victims in Presidentially designated disaster areas recover by making it easier for them to get mortgages and become homeowners or re-establish themselves as homeowners.
Type of Assistance:
This program provides mortgage insurance to protect lenders against the risk of default on mortgages to qualified disaster victims. Individuals are eligible for this program if their homes are located in an area that was designated by the President as a disaster area and if their homes were destroyed or damaged to such an extent that reconstruction or replacement is necessary. Insured mortgages may be used to finance the purchase or reconstruction of a one-family home that will be the principal residence of the homeowner. Like the basic FHA mortgage insurance program it resembles (Section 203(b) Mortgage Insurance for One- to Four-Family Homes), Section 203(h) offers features that make homeownership easier:
-- No downpayment is required. The borrower is eligible for 100 percent financing. Closing costs and prepaid expenses must be paid by the borrower in cash or paid through premium pricing or by the seller, subject to a 6 percent limitation on seller concessions.
-- FHA mortgage insurance is not free. Mortgagees collect from the borrowers an up-front insurance premium (which may be financed) at the time of purchase, as well as monthly premiums that are not financed, but instead are added to the regular mortgage payment.
-- Some fees are limited. FHA rules impose limits on some of the fees that lenders may charge in making a mortgage. For example, the lender's mortgage origination charge for the administrative cost of processing the mortgage may not exceed one "point"-that is, one percent of the amount of the mortgage excluding any financed upfront mortgage insurance premium. In addition, property appraisal and inspection fees are set by FHA.
--HUD sets limits on the amount that may be insured. To make sure that its programs serve low- and moderate-income people, FHA sets limits on the dollar value of the mortgage. The current FHA mortgage limit ranges from $200,160 to $362,790. These figures vary over time and by place, depending on the cost of living and other factors (higher limits also exist for two- to four-family properties).
FHA-approved lending institutions, such as banks, mortgage companies, and savings and loan associations, are eligible for Section 203(h) insurance.
Anyone whose home has been destroyed or severely damaged in a Presidentially declared disaster area is eligible to apply for mortgage insurance under this program.
The borrower's application for mortgage insurance must be submitted to the lender within one year of the President's declaration of the disaster. Applications are made through an FHA-approved lending institution, who make their requests through a provision known as "Direct Endorsement," which authorizes them to consider applications without submitting paperwork to HUD. Mortgage insurance processing and administration for this and other FHA single-family mortgage insurance products are handled through HUD's Homeownership Centers.
This program is authorized under Section 203, National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. 1709, 1715(b)). Program regulations are in 24 CFR Part 203. These regulations, as well as handbooks, notices, and letters relevant to this program, are available through HUDCLIPS. The program is administered by the Office of Single-Family Housing Programs in HUD's Office of Housing-Federal Housing Administration.
For More Information:
Contact the FHA Resource Center. Homebuyers can also contact a HUD-approved lender for a searchable listing of approved lenders nationwide, a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, or the toll-free FHA Mortgage Hotline, 1-800-483-7342.