Can An FHA Loan Benefit You? Learn all about FHA limits, benefits, rates, and how to qualify in this video.
Editor’s note: FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Costs changed on April 9, 2012. FHA mortgage insurance rates increased in April 2012. The increase affects new home purchasers and anyone seeking an FHA refinance loan who currently has a non-FHA loan. The Up- front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) increases to 1.75% instead of 1%, quite a significant increase. The annual MIP will increase by 10 bps.(That means an additional $8.33 per month for every $100,000). The increase in the rates was a result of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 signed by President Obama on Dec. 23, 2011.
Is An FHA Mortgage Loan Right For You?
With home prices down, interest rates down and many Americans struggling with credit problems, there has never been a better time to check out FHA Loans!
If you are in the market to buy a home, there are many reasons for you to consider applying for an FHA mortgage loan to finance your home. One key reason to explore FHA-insured mortgage loans is that FHA Loans are easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages. An FHA loan is guaranteed by the government. Because of this, your loan application is more attractive to lenders, as their risk is lower. The second big reason is that you can qualify for a new FHA mortgage with a very low down-payment. We cover all this below, so read on!
Less Strict Credit Requirements
FHA loans have less stringent credit requirements than conventional loans. If you are a first-time FHA home loan applicant, you may not have established an extensive credit history. You also may have other debts, such as student loans that need to be paid. An FHA home mortgage often costs less and is more forgiving of small problems with your credit history and timely payments on your debts.
Low Down Payment
FHA home loans don’t require a big down payment. If you are a first-time homebuyer, this can be a major benefit. The FHA mortgage programs require only a 3.5% down payment, and the down payment money can come from a variety of sources, including HUD down payment assistance grants! If you are like many borrowers, especially first-time homebuyers, you may not have the 20% down payment that most conventional loans now require. It can take you years to save up enough to make a 20% down payment, so the low down payment requirement of an FHA loan may be the only way for you to qualify for a purchase loan to buy the house you want. Some programs, such as the American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) are only available to first-time homebuyers, although the ADDI is not the only form of down payment assistance available.
Closing costs are important to consider. Coming up with the money to cover the closing costs out-of-pocket can be a problem. Closing costs typically run between 2% and 3% of the total mortgage. One advantage when taking out an FHA loan is that the FHA mortgage terms may allow you to include most of your closing costs in your mortgage.
Rehab a Home
The FHA offers a special loan program that allows you to buy a home that needs fixing up and to finance the costs of fixing it up into one loan along with your purchase money. This loan is called an FHA 203K Rehabilitation loan. This is a great option, especially if you want to buy in an area where many homes have been foreclosed on and fallen into disrepair.
Manufactured and Mobile Homes
Homebuyers looking to purchase a manufactured or mobile home may find conventional mortgage financing difficult to obtain. The FHA has special loan programs designed for manufactured and mobile homes. One program is available if you own the land where the home will be placed, another program is available if you want to finance a purchase of a mobile or manufactured home that will be located in a mobile home park. Not every manufactured or mobile home is eligible. View the program requirements at the HUD Web site.
The FHA even has a loan program that allows you to improve the energy efficiency of a home you want to buy, the FHA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program (EEM). EEM helps you save money on your utility bills by enabling you to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to new or existing housing as part of you FHA insured home purchase mortgage. EEM can also be used with the FHA Section 203K Rehab loan program and generally follows the 203K program’s financing guidelines.
Help on FHA Restrictions
Despite the wide range of FHA programs available, the less strict credit requirements, and the smaller down payment requirements, there are still hurdles you need to clear to qualify for an FHA loan.
The FHA mortgage programs require you to have a certain level of income to qualify for a loan. The income requirements protect the FHA from mortgage defaults and protect you, the borrower, by preventing you from purchasing a home that you can’t afford. Your monthly FHA mortgage payment can’t take up more than 29% of your gross monthly income. You will have to provide verifiable proof of your income, often including your tax returns. If your job status has changed, you may be required to provide proof of your income from your employer.
One great feature of FHA loans is that they do not require a high credit score. Normally, a FICO credit score of 580 is the minimum acceptable score. An extensive credit history is also not required. FHA loans generally do require you to have two active lines of credit. The FHA even makes exceptions to that rule, if you can demonstrate a solid payment history on payments for housing rental, auto insurance, and utilities.
Recent bankruptcies or foreclosures can prevent you from qualifying. Regarding a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy must have been discharged for 24 months, before an FHA loan will be approved. FHA loans generally require that you not have a foreclosure or been issued a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure for the past 36 months. This is not a hard and fast rule. If you can demonstrate a good payment history after the foreclosure and provide a reasonable explanation of why the foreclosure took place, your loan could be approved.
FHA Loan Limits
One potential drawback in the FHA loan program is the dollar-limit the FHA mortgage programs place on loans. The limits are set county by county. In areas that experienced high appreciation, the FHA loan limit may not be enough to allow you to purchase the home that you desire. Currently, FHA loan limits range from $271,050 up to $625,500, although the dollar limits vary from time to time. View FHA loan limits in your area by using the interactive loan limit feature at the HUD Web site.
Summary… and how to get an FHA Loan!
If you are looking to buy a home and do not have 20% of the home purchase price saved up for a down payment, you should look into the FHA loan programs. The FHA does not offer the loans directly, but guarantees loans that are offered by FHA approved lenders.
You can receive a no-cost and no obligation mortgage quote from an FHA approved lender at Bills.com, just apply above and get a free loan quote to see if you can qualify.