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Can You Use an FHA Loan to Buy Investment Property in Los Angeles, CA?

Thinking about buying a Los Angeles investment property but worried about the down payment? 

Can you use an FHA loan on investment property in Los Angeles, CA?

FHA loans might be a familiar concept, especially for first-time homebuyers. But can you use this benefit for investment purposes? Let’s take a look at FHA loans and explore their possibilities for building your real estate portfolio.

What is a Federal Housing Administration Loan?

An FHA loan, backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), is a government-insured mortgage program designed to make homeownership more accessible. Here’s what makes FHA loans attractive:

  • Lower Down Payment: Unlike conventional loans that typically require a 20% down payment, FHA loans allow you to finance a significant portion of the purchase price – often as low as 3.5%. This can be a major advantage, especially when considering investment properties.
  • Competitive Interest Rates: FHA loans generally offer lower interest rates compared to conventional loans, translating to lower monthly payments and potentially higher returns on your investment.
  • Flexible Qualifying Requirements: Compared to conventional loans, FHA loans have less stringent credit score requirements. This can open doors for those with limited credit history or a few bumps on their credit report.

Can You Assume an FHA Loan as an Investment Property?

Assuming an existing FHA loan on an investment property isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. FHA loans are designed for primary residences, and the original borrower would have had to live there for at least a year. 

While the lender might approve the assumption, they’ll likely require the new borrower to also occupy the property as their primary residence for a period of time to comply with FHA guidelines. It’s best to check with the lender directly to understand their specific requirements for assuming an FHA loan on an investment property.

Here’s the key takeaway: FHA loans are primarily intended to help people buy primary residences, not investment properties. However, there’s an exception – multi-unit properties.

Using an FHA Loan for Multifamily Property

Using an FHA loan to buy multi-unit investment property in Los Angeles.

Here’s where things get interesting. FHA loans can be used to purchase multi-unit properties, such as duplexes, triplexes, or even fourplexes. There’s one crucial catch: you must occupy one of the units as your primary residence for at least 12 months after purchase.

Think of it like this: one unit becomes your “home base,” and the remaining units can be rented out, generating rental income to offset your mortgage payment and potentially create a positive cash flow. This strategy allows you to leverage your FHA loan benefit to acquire an investment property while still fulfilling the occupancy requirement.

Key Factors to Consider 

While the multi-unit approach offers possibilities, it’s important to carefully consider these factors before making any moves:

  • Occupancy Requirements: Living in one of the units for at least 12 months is mandatory. Consider if you’re comfortable with this commitment before using an FHA loan.
  • Financing Limits: FHA loan limits vary depending on location and the number of units in the property. Research local loan limits to determine your budget for a multi-unit property.
  • Finding the Right Property: Look for multi-unit properties in desirable locations with strong rental markets. Consider factors like vacancy rates, potential rental income, and maintenance needs.
  • Management Responsibilities: Even with tenant occupancy, there will likely be management responsibilities like repairs, tenant screening, and rent collection. Decide if you’re comfortable handling these tasks yourself or if you’ll need to hire a property management company.

Investment Property Success Begins With Planning

FHA loans are a powerful tool for achieving homeownership. Understanding the nuances around investment properties allows you to explore possibilities and potentially use your FHA benefit to build your real estate portfolio

However, careful planning, financial analysis, and a realistic understanding of ongoing responsibilities are crucial before getting started. Consult with a financial advisor and a Los Angeles real estate professional to explore your options and make informed decisions that align with your financial goals.

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