Understanding Financing Options for New Development Properties

Understanding Financing Options for New Development Properties


Among Southern Florida's glossy oceanfront neighborhoods, Bal Harbour has long been a celebrated destination for those seeking luxury and serene beachside elegance without the fervor accompanying cities like Miami Beach, 30 minutes to the south. 

The same goes for Sunny Isles Beach, another South Florida enclave famous for its beachfront lifestyle and access to many of the region's favorite outdoor destinations, including Oleta River State Park, Haulover Park and the city's 2.5-mile uninterrupted beach. 

Separated from Bal Harbour by 5 minutes, the time it takes to traverse the scenic Collins Avenue through Haulover Park, both communities have seen their popularity explode over the past decade thanks to an abundance of new, high-end, high-rise developments.

In fact, up and down the South Florida coast, from Aventura just to the north of Sunny Isles to Miami Beach and the "Manhattan of the South," Brickell neighborhood, vertical opulence is reshaping this magnificent coastal region one stunning development at a time. 

But for those new to South Florida's brand of elevated condo living, cracking the code on where and what to buy is a challenge. The new home search is further complicated if you're unfamiliar with the financing involved in acquiring one of the region's brilliant oceanfront homes.

Whether it is Bal Harbour or Sunny Isles Beach or further south in Miami Beach or Brickell, if you're ready to make your move into a new high-rise condo, understanding financing options for new development properties is a critical aspect of owning your dream home in one of the world's most luxurious locales.

Financing a Condo vs. Single-Family Home

Securing a mortgage for a condominium differs from the process for a single-family home. One of the primary differences is the interest rate. For condos, borrowing can be marginally higher—a premium ranging from 0.25% to 0.75% more than for a single-family home under similar conditions. This variance is due to the perceived higher risk associated with condo mortgages.

A substantial down payment mitigates the variance and potentially lowers the interest rate. While a 20% down payment suffices for the best rates on a single-family home mortgage, condo purchasers often need to consider a minimum of 25% down. Despite this, you can balance the initial cost burden with the generally lower purchase price of condos than single-family homes. 

Even among South Florida's lavish high-rise communities, where penthouse units can command prices at or exceeding the grandest oceanfront mansions, you have options galore regarding floor plan type, views, finish outs and the price you'll ultimately pay for the unit. Such flexibility leads to more manageable monthly payments over the mortgage term.

Association Fees and Their Impact

Another critical factor in condo living and financing is the condominium association (CA) fees. These fees cover the maintenance of common areas, building exteriors, and shared facilities. Not unlike a homeowners association (HOA) for traditional neighborhoods, the CA (which itself is often referred to as an HOA in many buildings) can vary significantly in both governance and the fees they assess. While introducing an additional monthly cost, they also relieve condo owners from directly managing or financing exterior maintenance and repairs, offering a trade-off between price and convenience.

The Warrantable vs. Non-Warrantable Condo

The process of securing a condo mortgage requires careful consideration of both the borrower's financial health and the financial and operational health of the condo development. Lenders have specific criteria that a condominium development must be warrantable to approve a mortgage: a minimum percentage of 51% owner-occupied units, restrictions on ownership concentration, a budget that adequately fulfills the needs for maintenance and repairs costs, and that the building and its CA or HOA are free from open or ongoing litigation. 

Condos not meeting these criteria are deemed "non-warrantable," presenting a more challenging financing landscape. Non-warrantable condos, including luxury and new development properties, often require financing through specialized lenders or local banks. These loans may necessitate higher down payments and typically come with adjustable-rate mortgages that carry higher interest rates.

Exploring Financing Options and Challenges

Understanding and navigating the challenges of condo financing requires thoroughly exploring available mortgage products and the specifics of condo ownership. For warrantable condos, traditional financing options with competitive terms are accessible. 

However, for non-warrantable condos, common in the luxury segment, borrowers must be prepared to engage with specialized lending options that might involve higher down payments and interest rates.

Either way, you'll want to shop around for a lender and loan that best serves your needs. Among the different types of financing available for your new development properties, the most common include: 

Conventional loan

Among the most popular loan types, conventional loans come with straightforward terms, competitive interest rates, and flexible down payments. The major drawback is that the condo building in which your purchase is made, whether it's established or a new development, must be warrantable.

VA loan

If you're an eligible veteran or active-duty military personnel, a VA loan, backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offers 100% financing, attractive interest rates, and less stringent loan criteria. 

Non-qualified mortgage (non-QM)

Ideal for those who fall outside of typical lender parameters, a non-QM loan carries more risk, including higher rates and upfront fees. However, it does allow greater access to non-warrantable condos for those with a high net worth or who are self-employed and require alternative approval methods.

Jumbo loans

Necessary for many luxury condo developments with higher pricing than standard condo homes, a Jumbo loan entails stricter standards and a more rigorous underwriting process than a conventional loan. However, due to the absence of government backing, a Jumbo mortgage often comes with lower interest rates. 

Private mortgage or private money

This loan helps with purchases made as an investment or if someone needs to refinance their condo asset. One of the more flexible loan types, you'll secure a private money loan through non-bank providers, including private investment organizations or individual investors.

Hard money

If you're unable to meet traditional mortgage loan requirements, a hard money loan utilizes collateral more than credit score, credit, and income profile to secure financing. Typically cast as a short-term loan, the hard money option does not distinguish between a warrantable or non-warrantable condo. 

A Strategic Approach to Condo Financing

For potential condo buyers in Florida, especially those looking for Bal Harbour real estate or new developments across Miami's coastal region, understanding your financing options is crucial to a successful property acquisition. To find your perfect luxury condo, including recommendations for some of the region's top lending partners, reach out to me, Karen Reiter, today and allow me to share my experience and expertise. I look forward to helping you navigate South Florida’s luxury oceanfront market!

*Header photo courtesy of Karen Reiter’s website



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Whether you're looking to buy your dream home, sell your property, or explore investment opportunities in Florida, Karen Reiter is ready to assist you. Don't hesitate to reach out to her today. Your goals are her top priority, and she is excited to help you achieve them.

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