Program helps condos decode FHA rules

Westchester-based National Condo Advisors has introduced a new program to help residential projects comply with intricate Federal Housing Administration guidelines.

The company has already signed up 14 New York City clients for the new program, called “Continued Condo Compliance,” according to CEO Orest Tomaselli.

Four-year-old National Condo Advisors was founded to help condo projects obtain approval for FHA loans, Tomaselli said. He launched the new initiative, he said, in order to address a problem that arose in September, when the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development implemented new rules for condos seeking approval for buyers to obtain FHA loans.

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HUD asked that developers sign a form guaranteeing that their project would continue to comply with its rules over time. The signee could face stiff penalties — up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, or both — if the project falls out of compliance and does not report the change.

Attorneys, not surprisingly, vowed to forbid their clients from signing these agreements. But HUD said it wouldn’t approve projects for FHA loans without them. That left the two parties at an impasse.

That’s when Tomaselli approached HUD, and found out that his firm (or any consultant) can serve as the signee on behalf of clients. Since his company “knows the developments we advise intimately,” he said, “we felt we could take the extra steps necessary to mitigate our own risks.”

To do this, National Condo Advisors sends out monthly questionnaires to its clients to make sure they are complying with FHA regulations. If they aren’t, National Condo Advisors works to address the problem. The program costs $895 up front for existing developments, and $149 per month thereafter.