Don't take FHA approval for granted

In 2006 the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured only 1 in every 50 new mortgage loans in Chicago. In 2009 the FHA insured one in every 5 new loans, and in 2010 one in every 7 was FHA-insured, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data reported by Crain's.

The availability of an FHA-backed mortgage is still critical for the many condo buyers who might not meet the down payment or credit score requirements for a conventional loan.

As I scan condo listings I frequently find condos that are said to be FHA approved that aren't. In some instances the FHA approval expired after the unit was listed, but in many more cases it never existed.

Buyers who need FHA-backed loans should check the list of FHA-approved condos that's available online before entering into a contract. That list is not available 24/7, but strangely is live only during limited times.

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