The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan is a great option for borrowers without a large amount saved for a down payment. It is easy credit qualifying.
What is it?
The FHA loan has helped grow homeownership rates in large cities and for minorities since it’s inception in 1934. It is designed for low-to-moderate income borrowers and requires a lower minimum down payment and lower credit scores than many conventional loans. Often this loan program is used by first time homebuyers or those who have not had an opportunity to build their credit or savings for down payment.
Is it right for me?
The minimum down payment for the FHA loan is 3.5% but will require mortgage insurance, tacking on an extra monthly fee. A borrower can actually put no money down if the FHA first mortgage is combined with a second mortgage from a source like one of the many state sponsored programs offering down payment assistance. As with most loans, the minimum credit score requirement is based on market conditions but compared to the other loan programs this one allows for lower credit scores. Currently, our minimum credit score requirement is 580 for an FHA loan.
While the FHA loan is commonly used by first time homebuyers, it is not strictly for first time buyers and can be used for any home purchase as long as the qualifications are met. One qualification is the amount of the loan; the maximum loan amount depends on the county in which your property is listed. These can be provided by your mortgage banker or found here. It is important to note that this loan is only an option for a primary residence and won’t work for investment properties or second homes, like vacation homes.
Why is it different from other mortgages?
As mentioned before, the FHA loan requires a lower minimum down payment and lower credit scores than many conventional loans. This loan is not funded by FHA but instead is funded by your mortgage lender and insured by Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In order to secure the guarantee of FHA, qualified borrowers are required to purchase mortgage insurance— and premium payments are made to FHA. So your mortgage lender takes on less of a risk since FHA will pay a claim if you default on the mortgage.
Give me all the details.
An FHA loan is typically a fixed rate mortgage, has no prepayment penalty, and is also assumable.
Gift funds are allowed in conjunction with this loan as long as they are accompanied by a gift letter and donor bank statement.
During the appraisal, all utilities must be turned on. The appraiser will need to inspect the appliances and sump pump.
If the property is vacant for 30+ days then a water test is required.
If you are seriously delinquent on your federal student loans or income taxes you may not qualify for an FHA loan.
Even if you’ve gone through bankruptcy or foreclosure, you may qualify for an FHA loan if you’ve re-established a good credit history. You can find more information here.