Repair Escrow

Many HUD homes are listed as Insured with Escrow. It seems that this repair escrow confuses many home buyers. Let me explain what the repair escrow means, what it’s for and why it is beneficial for home buyers.

FHA uses 3 categories to describe which type of financing is offered for a specific HUD listing: Insured, Insured with Escrow and Uninsured.

Insured means that you can get regular FHA financing without any additional repairs.

Insured with Escrow indicates that minor repairs, which are specified in the HUD listing (up to $10,000), must be completed before FHA will underwrites a regular loan. They allow the buyer to close on the purchase and add the cost of these repairs to the loan amount. However, the lender must hold this repair costs in escrow until the work is completed. Then it is disbursed to the buyer.

Uninsured means that you cannot get a regular FHA loan, because the house needs more than $10,000 in repairs. In that case you may still apply for an FHA rehab loan, also known as a 203k loan.

Common Questions

Here are the answers to the most common questions we get from buyers on a regular basis.

Can the repair escrow be used with any type of loan?
No. The repair escrow only applies to FHA loans. If you use another type of loan, you will have to do a new appraisal. Based on the appraisers opinion your lender will either underwrite the loan or not, or offer you other options to cover the repairs. Many lenders are very cautious these days. Some won’t underwrite a loan, if carpets are missing, if there are minor holes in the drywall, or even, if there are not appliances.

Does HUD pay for this repair escrow?
No. You have to pay for the repairs. However, as a benefit to the buyer, the amount of the repair escrow can be added to your loan amount. You will have to front the cash and pay your contractors for the repairs, or do them yourself.

Do I have to pay for the repairs?
Yes. You will have to pay for the repairs initially. When the work is complete, the appraiser will come back to your house to verify that everything is done. Only at that time will be lender release the escrow. It can be paid to you in cash as a reimbursement of the cost you incurred to do the repairs, or you can apply it to the principal and reduce your loan amount.

What’s the maximum amount FHA allows?
The maximum repair escrow allowed on a regular FHA loan is $10,000. The exact amount is specified in the HUD listing and disclosed in an addendum called Repair Escrow Information. You have to go with the exact number specified by HUD. You are not allowed to add other repairs to the escrow.

Why should I use the repair escrow anyway?
It is both a benefit and a requirement. FHA requires that you make the repairs specified by HUD in order for them to underwrite an FHA loan. As a benefit, they allow you to pay for these repairs by increasing the amount of your new loan and getting reimbursed, when the work is completed.

Other Repair Escrow Points:

  • Escrow is applicable only to FHA financing
  • Escrow amount is 110% of total repairs needed to bring house up to FHA Minimum property Standards
  • Buyer must qualify for additional funds to be added to loan – otherwise must pay escrow amount in cash (escrow amount is added to the contracted sales price on the HUD-1)
  • Lender holds escrow
  • All repairs are to be completed by the purchaser within 90 days after closing
  • Upon satisfactory completion of repairs, lender must disburse escrow to compensate buyer or contractor, as appropriate
  • If actual repair costs are less than amount escrowed, balance in the escrow must be applied to reduce outstanding principal balance of the mortgage
  • If the escrow is inadequate, or if additional items of repair are discovered at some subsequent date, it is the buyer's responsibility to bear the additional cost.