Home Improvement & Repair Loan Programs for Homeownership Professionals
PHFA offers homeownership professionals / lenders the following home improvement & repair loan programs.
ACCESS Home Modification Loan Program Information
The ACCESS Home Modification Program provides mortgage loans to assist persons with disabilities or who have a family member(s) living in the household with disabilities who are purchasing a home that needs accessibility modifications. This program provides a deferred payment loan, with no interest, and no monthly payment. The loan becomes due and payable upon sale, transfer, or non-owner occupancy of the property.
Applicants must meet the requirements of the ACCESS Home Modification program which are listed below:
- Applicants must be homebuyers who are persons with a permanent disability or have a family member(s) living in the household with a permanent disability who are purchasing a new or existing home with a loan originated through one of the Agency's homeownership loan programs.
- Applicants may apply for any of the Agency's first mortgage program loans (i.e., Keystone Home Loan, Keystone Government Loan, HFA Preferred™(Lo MI), HFA Preferred Risk Sharing™(No MI)).
- Applicants must meet the underwriting guidelines for the first mortgage program in which they are applying. Refer to Seller's Guide for program guidelines.
Eligible Home Modifications
Home modifications should be designed to meet the needs of the person with the physical disability who will be residing in the home. Eligible modification items may include, but are not limited to the following.
- bathroom modifications
- installation of grab bars and handrails
- kitchen modifications
- lifting devices
- main level bathroom or bedroom addition
- ramp addition or repair
- sidewalk addition or repair
- widening doorways or hallways
Downpayment and/or Closing Cost Assistance
In addition to the ACCESS Modification Program, some applicants may qualify for downpayment and/or closing cost assistance through the HOMEstead Assistance or the ACCESS Downpayment and Closing Cost Assistance loan programs.
If HOMEstead assistance is used in conjunction with the ACCESS Modification Program, the types of modifications will be limited to those that will not disturb any painted surfaces, unless the home was built after January 1, 1978. For homes built prior to 1978 where the modifications may disturb painted surfaces, the borrower cannot use HOMEstead assistance but may use the ACCESS assistance if needed and if eligible.
Rates and Fees
ACCESS mortgage loans are interest free and have no fees.
- Not less than $1,000 and no more than $10,000. Funds will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- ACCESS Home Modification loans are available in addition to any downpayment and/or closing cost assistance or HOMEstead funds for which the applicants may qualify. These additional mortgages will NOT be factored into maximum loan-to-value financing limitations.
- This is a non-interest bearing loan with no monthly payment. The loan becomes due and payable upon sale, transfer, or non-owner occupancy of the property.
Applicants are responsible for determining what accessible modifications are required. Most Local Centers for Independent Living and Area Agencies on Aging can provide technical assistance in making this determination. The applicant is to provide the lender with a proposal completed by a general contractor of choice, detailing the modification improvements that will be needed to make the home accessible.
Upon completion of your application, the lender will perform a preliminary review of the construction proposal submitted by the applicant, which includes the specifications, cost estimates, and drawings of the work to be completed. A contract, signed by the applicant and the contractor, is required before the lender can send the loan package to PHFA for final approval. (NOTE: The contract should include a clause stating that its implementation is contingent upon approval of the mortgage loan).
At closing, PHFA will hold the ACCESS Home Modification funds in an escrow account, pending completion of the modifications. Should there be an increase in costs during the modification/improvement period which takes the cost of the project over the amount approved, the borrower must fund the amount of the increase.
PHFA will disburse the funds to the contractor with the homebuyer's written approval and secure a certificate of completion. The improvements must be completed within 90 days of the closing. All funds disbursed must be used for the accessibility modification improvements. Any unused ACCESS Home Modification Loan funds must be refunded to the Agency.
How to Apply
If you meet the conditions above, contact a PHFA participating lender to start your mortgage application. PHFA also offers homebuyers the opportunity to receive homebuyer counseling and education free of charge through one of its approved counseling agencies. We strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of a counselor before you sign a sales agreement, especially if you are a first-time buyer. Any borrower with a FICO credit score lower than 680 is required to complete a course prior to closing on their loan.
Purchase Improvement Loan Program Information
PHFA's Purchase Improvement loan allows buyers who qualify for a Keystone Home Loan to purchase and improve/repair a home within one transaction. Eligible buyers may include between $1,000 and $15,000 for repairs and/or improvements with a conventional PHFA first mortgage, as long as the As Completed appraised value supports the cost of the repairs. This allows the buyer to make needed repairs right away, without having to take out another loan at a higher rate and with a shorter repayment period.
The purchase price plus the cost of the repairs (referred to as the total acquisition cost) cannot exceed PHFA's applicable purchase price limit. (Visit the page on the Keystone Home Loan Program for purchase price limits.) The loan amount will be based on the lesser of the total acquisition cost or the as completed appraised value.
This program may be combined with PHFA's Keystone Advantage Assistance Loan, as applicable. Two-unit properties are not eligible for this program.
Common repairs include:
- Renovation of plumbing or electric systems
- Installation of improved heating or air conditioning systems
- Addition of living space
- Renovation of a kitchen or bath area
- Replacement of a roof
- Energy conservation and solar energy improvements
A maximum of three inspection fees of up to $75 each may be included in the repair costs. Recreational or entertainment items such as swimming pools, tennis courts, hot tubs, saunas, etc., may not be included.
All repairs must be completed by a qualified and licensed contractor. If the local government (city or municipality) does not require contractors to be licensed, proof of their liability insurance must be supplied and included with the contract. Borrowers may not act as their own contractors, unless that is their profession.
The contract must contain the following items:
- A description of the specific work to be completed. This must be supported by specifications, drawings, photos, etc.;
- A statement of the actual maximum amount that can be charged (not estimated amount);
- A release of lien clause to maintain clear title;
- The contractors agreement to complete the work in compliance with all applicable building codes and zoning restrictions and to obtain the necessary permits and a certificate of completion within 90 days of the closing date;
- The borrowers and the contractors signatures and date.
It is up to the buyer to provide the lender with a written request detailing the required improvements/repairs to be completed, along with the estimates, specs, contracts, etc., from a qualified and licensed contractor(s). The buyer must sign Purchase/Improvement Program Acknowledgment at the time of application. The borrower must fund any amount in excess of $15,000 and/or any amount that exceeds the as complete appraised value. If this amount is financed, it must not impact the buyers ability to pay the mortgage (debt to income ratios).
The lender is responsible for reviewing the borrowers written request and specs, contracts, etc., to determine the credibility and legitimacy of the proposed repairs and/or improvements, and to ensure the contract contains all the necessary items as listed above under the section titled The Contract. Also, the lender will ensure that the funding of any additional costs do not jeopardize the buyers debt to income ratios or PHFA's lien position, nor do they cause the purchase price limit to be exceeded.
The lender will submit a signed Purchase/Improvement Program Acknowledgment with specs, contract(s), etc., to PHFA when they submit the pre-closing package. The lender should write Purchase Improvement Program on the top of the 51 Compliance Package Checklist - PURCHASE, the credit/pre-compliance package checklist. The lender must provide the appraiser with the contract and supporting documentation so the as completed value of the property can be determined.
At closing, the lender will escrow the repair funds and will thereafter monitor the completion of the repairs and issue draws, if applicable, using 49 Request for Payments and Completion Certification. An initial draw in an amount up to 50 percent of the total repair cost may be issued at closing. The checks for each draw must be signed by both the borrower and the contractor. A maximum of two inspections with a charge not to exceed $75 each may be ordered by the lender. The lender will secure the completion certificate (50 Requirements and Guidance for PHFA Home Improvement Loans) from the original appraiser within 90 days of closing. Please note that the borrower must still occupy the home within 60 days, so repairs in the final month must not affect livability of the home. PHFA will purchase the loan according to the normal schedule, which will usually be prior to the completion of the repairs.
This program is also covered in Chapter 3 of the Seller's Guide.
Homeowners Energy Efficiency Loan Program (HEELP) Information
The Homeowners Energy Efficiency Loan Program (HEELP) offers loans between $1,000 and $10,000 for specific energy efficiency repairs at a fixed-rate of one percent (1%) for ten years with no prepayment penalties.
HEELP loans are more affordable than you may think: $44 per month for a $5,000 loan or $88 per month for a $10,000 loan. With such affordable payments, now you can make those much needed energy efficiency repairs.
The specific uses for the HEELP funds are:
- Air sealing, insulation and ductwork
- Energy efficient windows and doors
- Energy efficient heating or cooling system repairs or replacements
- Roof replacements
The HEELP income limits are listed in the chart below.
80% of AMI*
∗ The Agency may make exceptions to these limits. These limits may be increased up to 150% Area Median Income (AMI) based upon individual circumstances. Please contact PHFA at 1.800.822.1174 for more information.
Download the Borrower Application. PHFA will underwrite your application and let you know if you are approved. If we have a local HEELP Loan Provider in your area we will refer you there. Otherwise, we will walk you through how to get the work that you need to have done approved.
HEELP Approved Contractors
Locate an approved HEELP contractor in your area. If you do not see your contractor on the list, have the company apply to become an approved contractor.
To locate a contractor in your area, please choose a county from the menu below.
Questions or concerns regarding this list should be directed to the Homeownership Programs Department.
Are you a contractor interested in doing HEELP work?
All contractors working with HEELP borrowers must be approved. Download the Contractor Application.
Renovate & Repair Loan Program Information
A R&R loan can be used to pay for repairs and improvements that increase the basic livability of the home, including additions and construction, that makes the home safer, more energy efficient, or more accessible to people with disabilities or people who are elderly. R&R loans can also be used to remove or fix code violations, hook up to municipal water and sewer systems, and improve or install code-compliant septic or well systems. In addition, R&R loans can be a source of payment for emergency repairs to critical life–safety systems in the homes, as long as the loan application is made to the Local Program Administrator within 30 days of the repair.
The purpose of the Keystone Renovate & Repair Loan Program (R&R loan) is to help:
- Prevent homeowners from becoming victims of unscrupulous lending practices (i.e., high interest rates and costs, more money borrowed than needed, pre-payment penalties, etc.).
- Homeowners prioritize their home repair spending so that the work that they get done is what their home really needs.
- Improve Pennsylvania's aging housing stock for its current residents and future generations.
This program is designed to help households with a combined household income no greater than approximately 150 percent of the statewide median income (adjusted upwards in high-cost areas) rehabilitate and/or improve their homes. Not only does the R&R loan provide an attractive interest rate, but it also provides the homeowner with help determining the repairs and/or improvements to be done. In this regard, the program provides much more than a loan–it provides peace of mind in knowing that the right home repairs are done and were completed in a timely manner with quality workmanship. Luxury and purely cosmetic items such as hot tubs, pools, gazebos, etc., are not permissible under the program.
PENNVEST Homeowner Septic Loan Program Information
The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) has teamed with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to offer this special funding program. Assistance is available to eligible homeowners who need to repair or replace their individual on-lot septic system OR to connect for the first time to a public sewer system. Program highlights are summarized below.
Benefits to You
- Receive an attractive rate for this vital home improvement.
- No prepayment penalty if the loan is paid off early.
- Eliminate worries about your septic system when you sell your home.
- Improve the environmental health of your property.
- Avoid or respond to citations from your municipality.
- Interest rate of 1.75%, as of 1/1/2016.
- Terms up to 20 years (up to 15 years for manufactured homes).
- Maximum loan amount is $25,000.
- Loan origination charges apply.
- Loans will be secured by a mortgage on the borrower's home.
- Lien Position: the PENNVEST loan must be in first or second lien position unless the loan amount is less than $7,500 OR the existing first and second liens were originated at purchase for the purpose of buying the home. Third lien position is permitted in these circumstances.
- Loans may be assumable by or simultaneously originated for qualified borrowers receiving a PHFA purchase money mortgage, with PHFA's pre-approval.
- No restrictions on household income as of 1/20/2016.
- Borrowers will be underwritten to determine ability to repay the loan.
- Borrowers must be PA residents seeking to improve their primary residence which meets program requirements.
- Project Location: for on-lot septic repair, all areas of PA are eligible unless a public wastewater collection and treatment system is either in place or will be constructed in the next five years. For first-time sewer connections, any area of PA is eligible.
- Allowable Project Types: rehabilitation, improvement, repair, or replacement of an existing septic system or a first-time connection to a public sewer.
- Financeable Project Costs: system design charges, construction fees and costs, inspection, and permit fees, connection fees (also known as "tap-in fees"), and most loan origination fees.
- Two unit dwellings deeded as one property are eligible unless the residence is a manufactured home, then one unit only.
- Documentation: applicants must gather and provide for lender and PHFA review, all income and credit information, applicable permits, project specifications, connection fees for sewer connections, or, if you are replacing or repairing an on-lot septic system, verification from your local municipality that a wastewater disposal system neither exists nor is planned in the next five years. Additional information supporting the loan application may also be requested.
How to Apply
For More Information: Contact your local Sewage Enforcement Officer, township or borough official, or PHFA at 1.855.U.Are.Home (827.3466).