The End of Condo Financing in Leavenworth?

 We have been hearing about clients avoiding condos because they are "impossible" to finance. At least one local agent has been spreading around this rumor.   To help us learn more about financing condos, we asked Darel Ansley of Peoples Bank in Wenatchee to set the record straight.

Darel, there are rumors going around Leavenworth that it’s impossible to get financing for a condominium… is this true?

I hear the same thing from a lot of people about condos, land loans and construction as well; it’s not true, but it stems from the mortgage meltdown, where many lenders have shed programs and decided to focus on just their core business.  So while it is not impossible, it is true that there are fewer players in the game.  Additionally, the rules keep changing, so it’s hard to keep up with what can and can’t be done. My best advice is that if a lender says it can’t be financed, ask a different kind of lender to see if you get the same answer.   In our market, we have big banks, community banks, mortgage brokers, and rural lenders who all have different programs.  But getting back to condos specifically, it may be surprising to know that for a buyer seeking a primary residence or 2nd home, almost all projects can be financed with minimal money down on a conventional loan at the current low rates.  In fact we just financed a condo purchase with 5% down on a 30 yr loan with a rate under 5%; and this was a condo conversion project that isn’t even completely sold out yet.

But it is hard to get some kinds of loans for condos right? Like FHA? What about USDA or VA loans?   

For FHA, unfortunately this is true, and always has been.  It is costly for a developer to get FHA approval for a project; consequently it is not really cost effective to obtain the approval unless the cost can be spread over a lot of units (like 40+).  In our smaller market, we rarely see projects of that size.  And without the FHA approval of the project before breaking ground, those units can never be financed by an FHA loan.  This is unfortunate, because I think FHA is missing out on fulfilling its mandate.  VA  typically follows FHA’s policies.  As far as USDA, I believe they can accept a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac approved project, which widens the field, but the general limitation on USDA is finding a Buyer’s income and a property price combination that fits USDAs narrow band.

Some types of condo projects are really hard to finance. Can you describe them? 

  The difficult ones are those which are considered condo-tels.  These are projects, typically in resort towns like Leavenworth or Chelan where they are approved for nightly rental, and they maintain hotel-like services like a reservation desk and room service, a good example is the Aspen Suites at Icicle Village. These cannot be conventionally financed and require down payments of at least 20%, plus higher interest rates.

  It is interesting that many lenders have failed to read Fannie Mae’s actual wording about these projects.  On one of your Kahler Glen listings a couple years ago, the Buyer’s lender turned down the loan, inaccurately calling the project a condo-tel because they allowed nightly rentals.  We financed the purchase with Fannie Mae, because the rule actually states that the existence of nightly rentals  alone does not in itself disqualify a project, but nightly rentals with an ‘on-site’ reservation desk is what makes one a condo-tel.  So although people may book nightly rentals there through the Kahler Glen clubhouse or Destination Leavenworth, they are independent of the condo project, so we are able to finance those units conventionally.

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Allyson and Geordie Romer

Leavenworth real estate agents - Allyson and Geordie Romer

For over a decade, Allyson and Geordie have been serving clients in the Leavenworth-area real estate market. Together, they work tirelessly to stay on top of the regional market and present the most relevant opportunities to their clientele.

When not in the office, they can be found exploring the endless recreation opportunities of the area in all of its seasons.

 

Testimonials

 

Geordie provided excellent real estate representation! We appreciated his detailed knowledge of the market, his up front and honest approach, and his negotiation skills.
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Laura Anderson

 

 

As “west siders” looking for a getaway near Leavenworth, Geordie provided insight … his knowledge of design features important in a “snowy winter wonderland” was appreciated. Thanks Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  –
 

- Jean Stern

 

 

Geordie made this somewhat complicated transition easier for us…going above and beyond to help us work through issues that came up during the sale of our parents home. We appreciated his knowledge, attentiveness to details and his willing spirit.
Our family is grateful for Geordie!
As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Terry Foster

 

 

Geordie was great in every way. We have been looking in the Leavenworth area for some time, and Geordie was absolutely the best for local knowledge, history and depth on neighborhoods, developments and the local market trends. He was very quick to respond (even when he was on his vacation) and worked very diligently to get all of our questions answered in a very timely fashion. We would recommend him highly to anyone looking to buy or sell a home. Very friendly, and helped us navigate all of the local options before we made an offer on the property that we purchased. Thank you, Geordie!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Ryan Olsen

 

 

It was such a pleasure to work with Geordie and his wife, Allyson on our cabin purchase. They showed us a variety of locations, listened to what we wanted and helped us find the perfect match. Everything was smooth and not stressful, just relaxed and easy. We would definitely recommend Geordie and use him again if the need arises!

As reviewed on Zillow  – 

- Cammie Schlosser

 

Moving to Leavenworth?

Are you looking for a cabin or a condo in Leavenworth that your family can use as a home base when climbing, skiing or hiking around Leavenworth or Lake Wenatchee?

Maybe you rent a house here and have decided to stay, surprised how a summer of rafting somehow turned into seven years.

Maybe it’s time to escape the hustle of the big city (and its rain) and move to Leavenworth with its four seasons.

Maybe you bought a condo years ago, don’t seem to use as much, and it’s time to sell.

Whatever your motivation, we are here to help. If you are buying a home, the best place to start is with our Homebuyer’s Guide to Leavenworth.