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New Anti-Flipping Rule Protects Homebuyers

Federal rule protects against artificially inflated sales prices 

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a new federal regulation designed to protect consumers from the predatory real estate lending practice called "flipping" on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Property "flipping" occurs when a property is resold for a considerable profit at an artificially inflated price shortly after being acquired by the seller.

"The Bush Administration is committed to maintaining a strong housing market in which consumers can feel confident that they are protected from unscrupulous practices," said HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. "This final rule represents a major step in our efforts to eliminate predatory lending practices."

How the New Rule Will Work
The final rule, "FR-4615 Prohibition of Property Flipping in HUD's Single Family Mortgage Insurance Programs," makes recently flipped properties ineligible for FHA mortgage insurance. It also allows FHA to better manage its insurance risk by requiring additional support for a property's value when a significant increase between sales occurs. Features include:

Sale by Owner of Record: Only the owner of record may sell a home to an individual who will obtain FHA mortgage insurance for the loan; it may not involve any sale or assignment of the sales contract, a procedure often observed when the homebuyer is determined to have been a victim of predatory practices.

Time Restrictions on Re-sales:

  • Re-sales occurring 90 days or less following acquisition will not be eligible for a mortgage to be insured by FHA. FHA's analysis disclosed that among the most egregious examples of predatory lending was on "flips" that occurred within a very brief time span, often within days. Thus, the "quick flips" will be eliminated.

  • Re-sales occurring between 91 and 180 days will be eligible provided that the lender obtains an additional appraisal from an independent appraiser based on a re-sale percentage threshold established by FHA; this threshold would be relatively high so as to not adversely affect legitimate rehabilitation efforts but still deter unscrupulous sellers, lenders, and appraisers from attempting to flip properties and defraud homebuyers. Lenders may also prove that the increased value is the result of rehabilitation of the property.

  • Re-sales occurring between 90 days and one year will be subject to a requirement that the lender obtain additional documentation to support the value to address circumstances or locations where HUD identifies property flipping as a problem. This authority would supersede the higher expected threshold established for the above-mentioned 90 to 180 day period and will be invoked when FHA determines that substantial abuse may be occurring in a particular locality.
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