Condos and the VA Loan
(Based on experience & much trial and error)
The VA will allow the purchase of Condos.
The VA condo approval process;
In order to secure VA loans for a condominium, the condo needs to
be on the VA approved list. To see if the condo you are interested in is
listed on the VA approved list, go to the VA condo portal & type in the town
and Homeowner Association (HOA) name. Also, check the HUD list for
FHA approval, they follow a similar process and requirements, and if on
one list, they will usually get onto the other list.
Below is the list of documents the Cleveland VA Home Center will need;
To approve the condo HOA & issue a VA number. Processing time can be
8-30 days. As of 2020, it seems to average less than 3 weeks, per request. 2021-2023 it is about 12 business days.
Documents that the Cleveland VA RLC might require for New and Existing Projects
- Master Deed
- Unit Deed
- Declaration of Trust
- Any amendments made to the Declaration of Trust
- VA Condo Survey
- Budget & Reserves
- HOA Master Insurance
- Last two meeting minutes
- Pending Litigation Statement (A couple sentences, stating if there is,
or is not pending litigation)
- Special Assessment Statement (A couple sentences, stating if there
is, or is not any special assessments)
- Management Company contact info
- Trustee contact info
- Map/floor plan/ survey
- New Projects, the developer’s attorney will have everything.
(Your agent will work with the lender handling the uploading of documents for the VA)
A home inspection for a Condo, can run $400-$700+/-
Condos need to be, move in ready condition.
Be aware of the Co-ops & Condexes
Cooperative apartments (“co-ops”) differ from condominiums (“condos”) in
several ways. When you buy a coop, you buy stock in the corporation that owns
the apartment building. The building then “leases” the coop to the buyer under a
long-term proprietary lease. The VA will not do Co-ops, as they impact the
owners to sell and rent the unit, as they wish.
A Condex is a duplex style condominium development consisting of only 2 units. ..
Lower prices, and no condo fees are the top benefits of a Condex. You also have your
own yard with all it’s maintenance too! Sounds very similar to owning your own single
family property, other than each unit shares a wall. The VA is usually fine, with Condexes.
Read the remarks in the MLS listing carefully, if the words,
contractors, developers, investors, repairs, ‘as-is’, TLC, or there is a
negotiation fee of $1000-$10,000 beware these are tells, that the property
will not work with a VA loan.
Also if there are no pictures, then there is likely nothing good, to take
a picture of!
(This is why you need an agent, if it were easy, you would not need
- The roof of the condo needs to have 3-5 Years worth, of roof life left. 3-5 Years
of life is in itself, is hard to determine. Asphalt shingle roofs can last
20-30 years. Rubber roofs about 20 years.
Clues in determine the viability and life of a roof are; look for ceiling stains & leaks, and missing shingles, damaged or missing seals around any vents and chimneys,
warped sheathing, chimneys that need repointing (cement) between
the bricks, or missing bricks. Moss happens to roofs that are under or near tree limbs. Thisis not such a big deal. There are sprays that will kill the moss, and it
will come off on it’s own. Also, make sure the bathroom fans are vent
out of the attic, the accumulation of moisture
can lead to mold in your attic. (see mold below)
- Pest inspection. The Wood Destroying Insect Inspection
Report (Form NPMA-33) is required by the VA. This report is necessary for any VA
loan, on any property MF, SF, or condos. Insects like termites,
powder post beetles, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, ect., can
be an issue. However, so long as the damage is minor, and
not structural, it is remediated, by treatment, by a pest company.
Usually $200-$1500+/-, the VA will want invoices, and the
treatment documentation (chemicals used). If the damage is
structural, then a structural engineer is needed to assess the
damage, and advice on the proper repairs. Many sellers and
buyers will not want to deal with this due to the expense.
($300+ for the engineer, and a lot more money to repair)
- Basements & Foundations. Some condos are converted
multi-families, and are quite old, some over 100+ years old. Building
practices a century ago, were not as good as today. Often the
foundations are lacking the proper footings, beams and
supports. This leads to uneven floors & settling. Foundations
in time need to be repointed, the gaps, provide access to
pests, to enter the property. Dirt floors can allow moisture to enter
the basement, and termites love wet/moist wood. Every basement should have a dehumidifier!
- Electrical Systems. I have seen lovely Victorian properties.
that have what appears to be modern circuit breaker 200amp,
electrical systems. However, buried inside the walls is knob
and tube wiring or aluminum wiring, both pose a hazard that
could cause shorts and possible electrical fires. Other
potential issues are items like the Federal Pacific electrical
box, they had a fire issue, and had a lawsuit over said issues in the 1970’s.
- Plumbing Issues. Some condos can have cast iron
plumbing. This has a service life of about 100 years. It rusts
from the inside out, so by the time it starts to leak, it will need
- Paint Issues. Since 1978 lead paint has been banned. It
causes health issues, especially in children under six. Paint
chips, and dust created from opening painted wood window
sills, that can be inhaled, by children and adults. The
mandatory form associated with lead paint is, THE PROPERTY
TRANSFER NOTICE. Many owners do not test for lead. It is
expensive to de-lead, and once you test, you have to disclose
the results. Whether this is right or wrong, many sellers prefer
to remain ignorant, than have to test for the presence of lead.
- Mold is another thing to look out for. There are thousands of
types of mold. A small percentage can cause health effects.
Mold tests cost about $600-$1000. Mold can grow on wood
and paper, in the presence of moisture. If the bathroom vents
are vented into the attic, or there is a dirt floor in the
basement, then the conditions for mold, might exist. Inspectors are not mold
experts, they will say there is, ‘an unknown substance or growth,’ or
- Asbestos. Some older properties may have asbestos tiles,
or insulation on the pipes. While a good insulator, and
harmless, if not airborne. It is harmful if airborne.
- Wells. Many Condos are in towns and cities, with municipal
water & sewer. Municipal water & sewer is ok for VA. However,
if they have a well, the water needs to be tested by a 3rd party
(often the home inspector), for Nitrites, Nitrates, Ecoli, &
Coliform. Essentially the runoff from fertilizers, and bacteria.
10.Septic Systems, if present. Otherwise known as a Title V
inspection. New systems have what is called a Certificate of
Compliance. These can be found at the town or city Board of
Health (BOH). These certify the septic system is operational,
safe, and in good condition. If you have city sewer, then this
is not a problem or concern.
- Heat, Hot Water Systems & Utilities. There should be separate
Utilities, to all the condo units. Make sure they are in good condition.
Look for leaks, corrosion on the pipes and the age of the
systems. Tank water heaters only have a limited life of about
- Radon. If there is a basement & a basement unit, you can
request the inspector to do a radon test. Radon is a
radiological naturally occurring gas that comes up from rocks (granite)
in the ground. If detected in higher concentrations, a radon
mitigation system can fix it, easy enough. It is essentially a
fan that transfers air, under the foundation, to outside the
house and costs about $1000-$2000+/-.
- Appraising. An appraiser will do a VA appraisal report. They
will look for safety items, like broken stairs, missing handrails,
& balusters, chipping paint, ect. Important! Make sure all the
bedrooms have a window (that exits to the outside), door,
closet, heat, and is more than about 7×7 feet. Otherwise, it will
not count as a bedroom and will not appraise as high.
- Garages & Sheds. The home inspector will have to include
them on a pest inspection. The appraiser may include any out
buildings, as well, as well as check safety items, as mentioned
Read the MLS listings carefully, if there is a seller’s disclosure, read that carefully as well.
“A sale is not something you pursue, It’s what happens to you, while you are immersed in servicing your customers”
CENTURY 21 Marathon
Licensed in MA, RI, & NH
77 West M St Ste 1 Hopkinton MA 01748