The Federal Housing Administration has raised the loan limit on its streamlined 203(k) home repair program from $15,000 to $35,000, which is much higher than expected.The FHA also dropped the $5,000 minimum on home repairs in revamping the streamlined program, which was rolled out last spring for the first time. The streamlined 203(k) program allows homebuyers to roll the cost of repairs into an FHA first mortgage. Unlike the main 203(k) program, the streamlined program is open to all FHA-approved lenders and does not require a consultant to oversee construction. Mortgagee letter 2005-50 outlines the types of repairs that are covered under the streamlined 203(k) program. The letter also clarifies that the streamlined program can be used in FHA refinancings and purchases of FHA-foreclosed properties. Last fall, FHA officials told lenders that they were disappointed by the response to the new streamlined program and that they planned to raise the maximum loan amount. These changes are "designed to make the program more reflective of the desire of many homebuyers and existing homeowners to improve their homes, including making them more energy efficient," the FHA mortgagee letter says.

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