Gift Funds on FHA Home Loans

In 2008 the Federal Housing Administration, in a move to try and get permission from congress to insure 100% home loans, were able to get most private third party down payment assistance programs eliminated from the process. Government and civic organizations are still able to operate but some of the largest DPA companies are out of the business of helping home owners with their required contribution to the loan process.

Since that date the only way to get down payment assistance is from generally higher priced government assistance programs or from a gift from a family member or employer. According to the HUD Handbook, chapter 2-10(C):

Gift Funds.An outright gift of the cash investment is acceptable if the donor is the borrower’s relative, the borrower’s employer or labor union, a charitable organization, a governmental agency or public entity that has a program to provide homeownership assistance to low- and moderate-income families or first-time homebuyers, or a close friend with a clearly defined and documented interest in the borrower.”

There is much more to it than simply having the funds available. Not only does the gift money have to exist. The paper trail, evidence of the donor’s ability to give and proof of the relationship also has to be verified.

Gift funds must come with a “Gift Letter” which meets the requirements of HUD and must include the following 10 items:

1) The dollar amount
2) Name of the donor
3) The donor’s signature
4) The donor’s address
5) The donor’s telephone number
6) Relationship to the borrower
7) The borrower must be named
8) The borrower’s signature(s)
9) The letter must state that no repayment is required
10) Include language asserting that the funds were not made available to the donor from any person or entity with an interest in the sale of the property.

What the FHA underwriter will look to see is if there is any way any of the funds could have possibly come from an interested third party who would benefit from the sale. This group would include a builder, agent, seller, or other beneficiary of the proceeds of the sale.

Many donors do not appreciate the fact they will need to show where the funds came out of their account by providing a withdrawal slip specifically showing the donor’s account number. Even then the underwriter may ask for a copy of the bank statement from the donor with their name printed on it. According to HUD the minimum requirements are, “a copy of the donor’s withdrawal slip or canceled check, along with the borrower’s deposit slip or bank statement showing the deposit to the borrower’s account.”

In the event the gift funds being provided are given in the form of a cashier’s check the documentation should include, “evidence that the funds used to purchase the cashier’s check came from the donor. A withdrawal slip, specifically showing the donor’s account number from which the funds were obtained, would be sufficient evidence, along with a copy of the cashier’s check.”

Gift funds can only be used toward down payment and closing costs. If there are any payment reserves required those cannot be provided by gift funds and must come from the borrower’s own funds as evidenced by the documentation provided to the underwriter for the approval process.

Donors generally must be a family member, a friend with a valid interest in the borrower, a credit union, or a current employer. There is no limit to the amount of the gift and the donor can borrow the gift so long as it has not come in any manner from any party to the sale or beneficiary of the proceeds of the sale.