Does Real Estate Put You Behind Bars?

February 28th, 2011

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If you live in an urban setting, you may have security bars on some or all windows, probably at least your lower windows which are easily reachable by a criminal who wants to break in. There is an underwriting guideline that I have not had anyone question me on in almost 15 years, which is starting to make a comeback.

The guideline actually makes sense, but it seems to be applied at random. There is a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac guideline (which also exists on FHA & VA loans) that requires proper egress. Egress is defined as “the act or an instance of going, especially from an enclosed place.” And I have seen many urban homes with bars on windows that were welded, with no way out, as well as no way in. This creates a fire hazard. If you cannot open the bars after opening the window, to escape a fire, you will be trapped.

I had a loan in an urban setting where the underwriter required an “emergency release” (also called a “quick release”, from the inside, for proper egress. That, or the underwriter was requiring the bars to be removed completely. The underwriter did apply some logic, and said that if a room had two windows, only one window had to have a quick release on the bars or had to have the bars removed altogether.

This is just one more thing to know, amongst the hundreds and hundreds of things that underwriters and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac watch out for and are cracking down on.

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Brian Martucci is a loan officer for Capital Bank Home Loans, a division of Capital Bank, N.A. He has been in the mortgage industry since 1986 and has served in a number of roles, including loan processor, loan officer, mortgage broker, branch manager, and vice president. Brian Martucci – NMLS# 185421. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Capital Bank Home Loans or Capital Bank. Capital Bank, N.A.- NMLS# 401599. Click here for the Capital Bank, N.A. “Privacy Policy”.

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