A Comprehensive Guide to FHA Mortgage Loans

A Comprehensive Guide to FHA Mortgage Loans | Woodland Park CO

Saving up for a large down payment on a residential home can be a financial challenge that prevents first-time homebuyers with minimal savings from ever becoming homeowners. Fortunately, government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans can help potential homebuyers who want a home but struggle to save or source a large down payment. In 2018, more than 80% of FHA loans made were to first-time homebuyers, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This guide will cover the advantages and disadvantages of using an FHA loan to purchase a home, how homebuyers can begin the process of researching and getting approved for these loans, and how you may be able to utilize and FHA loan for refinance purposes.

What is an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is a home mortgage insured by the government - specifically, by the Federal Housing Administration. The term “FHA loan” is actually somewhat of a misnomer because the FHA doesn’t actually lend money to would-be homeowners. Rather, it ensures the loans made by private lenders. So while we’ll use the term “FHA loan” for simplicity, an “FHA-backed or insured loan” is more accurate.

An FHA loan aims to put homeownership within reach for many Americans who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a conventional, non-FHA-backed mortgage. You may be able to get an FHA loan with a lower credit score, lower down payment, and a higher debt-to-income ratio than you could have for a conventional mortgage.

Types of FHA Loans

FHA mortgage loans come in several different configurations depending on your age, assets, income, current home equity, needs, and circumstances.

Fixed-Rate Purchase Loan.

Also known as a 203b mortgage loan, this is the most popular type of FHA purchase loan. Terms can vary, but 15 and 30 years are the most common. Interest rates tend to be lower than comparable conventional mortgages. 203b mortgage loans can be used on one to four-family residential homes.

Adjustable-Rate Purchase Loan (ARM).

Under the Section 251 Adjustable Rate Mortgage Program, the FHA insures ARMs whose interest rates can rise by no more than one percentage point per year and no more than five percentage points over the full term. Borrowers receive notice of pending rate increases at least 25 days prior to the increase.

Condominium Loans.

Known as Section 234c loans, FHA-insured condominium loans are 30-year fixed-rate products that finance the purchase of individual condominium units within developments larger than four units. There’s no strict occupancy requirement, so borrowers can use FHA-backed condo loans to earn rental income. However, in any given development, at least 80% of FHA-insured loans must be made to owner-occupants.

Secure Refinance Loan.

FHA Secure Refinance loans are designed to help borrowers with conventional mortgage loans refinance into fixed-rate, FHA-backed mortgages. Delinquency is not necessarily disqualifying, though it must result from higher monthly payments on a conventional ARM. Non-delinquent borrowers can refinance any type of conventional loan. Standard qualification requirements apply, including steady income, acceptable credit rating, and reasonable debt-to-income ratios.

FHA Streamline Refinance Loan.

An FHA Streamline is a refinance option for homeowners with existing FHA mortgages. This program is “streamlined” because it doesn’t have many of the income and appraisal requirements that are included with standard refinance programs. As a result, the streamlined program provides homeowners with a quick, simple way to make their mortgage more affordable.

The FHA guidelines state that a streamline refinance must provide a benefit to the borrower by either lowering the interest rate or converting the loan from an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed-rate. The program also allows for higher loan-to-value ratios than many refinance programs, so borrowers who have little or no equity in their home are still eligible.

FHA Loan Requirements

FHA loan down payment

With the FHA, the minimum down payment depends on your credit score. With a credit score of 580 or higher, the minimum down payment is 3.5%. With a score of 500 to 579, the minimum down payment is 10%.

FHA debt-to-income requirements

Lenders pay attention to your debt-to-income ratio, regardless of the type of mortgage you get. The debt-to-income ratio, known as DTI, measures the percentage of your pretax income that you spend on monthly debt payments, including mortgage, credit cards, student loans, and other obligations. You can use a debt-to-income ratio calculator to figure out where you stand.

The FHA requires a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less, according to Brian Sullivan, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which runs the FHA.

FHA loan income requirements

There is no minimum or maximum salary you can earn that will qualify you for or prohibit you from getting an FHA-insured mortgage. However, you must:

Have at least two established credit accounts. Examples: a credit card and a car loan.

Not have delinquent federal debt or judgments tax-related or otherwise or debt associated with past FHA-insured mortgages.

Account for cash gifts that help with the down payment. These gifts must be verified in writing, signed and dated by the donor.

Checklist of Required FHA Loan Documents

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Individual mortgage lenders have different paperwork requirements. After all, they are different companies with different business models and procedures. But when it comes to FHA loans, there are certain documents borrowers must provide regardless of which mortgage company they are working with.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the government agency that manages this program: “The mortgage loan application package must contain all documentation that supports the lender’s decision to approve the loan.” This includes a wide variety of documents relating to the borrower’s financial situation, as well as those pertaining to the property being purchased.

Common FHA documents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Loan Application
  • Form HUD-92900-A
  • SSN Verification
  • Credit Report
  • Verification of Employment
  • Tax Returns
  • Sales Contract
  • FHA Amendatory Clause
  • Real Estate Certification
  • Appraisal Report

It’s also worth noting that mortgage lenders cannot have borrowers sign blank documents to be “filled in later.” This is a violation of FHA documentation requirements and guidelines. The HUD handbook states this clearly enough: “Lenders may not have borrowers sign incomplete documents … or blank sheets of paper.” These reasons for this rule are fairly obvious — you need to know what you’re signing!

Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

Portrait Of Smiling Family Standing In Front Of Their Home

What are the advantages of an FHA loan?

One of the main advantages is that you don't need to make a very big down-payment (which can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price) for an FHA-insured loan. Most traditional loans require an initial payment of 20% of the property cost. College graduates, newlyweds, first-time homeowners and people with low income generally cannot afford a 20% down-payment.

Since an FHA-insured loan requires only a minimum cash investment, it is ideal for people who haven't been able to save enough money for the purchase. First-time home buyers and people who may have been denied for a conventional loan will definitely benefit from an FHA-insured loan. Also, if you can't apply for conventional loans because of bankruptcy or foreclosure, you may still be able to qualify for an FHA loan.

FHA loans are very popular since they allow greater flexibility in calculating payment ratios and household income. In general, to be eligible for an FHA loan, you must have a valid social security number, be a US resident, and old enough to get a mortgage in your state.

FHA loans - What's the catch?

First of all, the properties have to be appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser, and they must meet certain conditions. However, the biggest disadvantage is the mortgage insurance premium (MIP). There are two kinds of MIPS, and both are required: one is the upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP), which is financed into the mortgage (it increased from 1% to 1.75% in 2012), and the other is the annual MIP (which is actually paid monthly).

As of June 2013, mortgage insurance premiums must be paid for 11 years in loans which the original loan-to-value (LTV) is 90% or less. If the loan's starting balance is higher than 90% of the appraised value, the MIP will last the lifetime of a loan.

What are the disadvantages of an FHA loan?

Since an FHA has a very low down-payment (which can be as low as 3.5%), you will end up paying more interest than if you had a conventional loan with a 20% down-payment. This is a very important factor to consider when looking for a mortgage. If you are financially capable of paying 20% for a down-payment, then you should strongly consider opting for a conventional mortgage since it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Plus, on top of the 1.75% upfront that you'll have to pay in insurance, you can't cancel the annual mortgage insurance premium, like you could before June 2013. In contrast, conventional loans let you cancel the insurance policy when you have enough equity.

How does an FHA loan differ from a conventional mortgage?

An FHA loan is different from a conventional mortgage in important ways. A conventional mortgage is not insured by the FHA, so it’s harder for you to qualify if you’re not the type of ideal buyer lenders look for.

Some of the key differences between an FHA loan and a conventional mortgage include the following:

FHA loans have different down payment requirements. You can get an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%. Most conventional lenders require you to put at least 5% down, although a few lenders will let you get a mortgage with just 3% down.

You can get more down payment help with an FHA loan. The FHA permits financial gifts or down-payment assistance from an approved source to provide up to 100% of the down payment, while some conventional lenders restrict the amount of your down payment that can come from a gift.

You can qualify for an FHA loan with a lower credit score. Many lenders require credit scores of 640 or higher to obtain a loan, while the FHA allows loans with credit scores as low as 500.

FHA loans typically have lower interest rates. When interest rates are lower, your loan can cost less over time.

FHA loans have different insurance requirements. Borrowers who get an FHA loan must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium and annual mortgage insurance premiums. With a conventional loan, private mortgage insurance is typically required if a borrower puts less than 20% down — but there’s just one premium paid on a monthly basis. There are also different rules for when you can stop paying insurance, and you usually have to pay insurance for longer with an FHA loan.

Sellers can help with closing costs for an FHA loan. The FHA allows home sellers to pay up to 6% of the closing costs for a loan. Many conventional lenders cap a seller’s contribution at 3% of closing costs, although some allow sellers to pay up to 6%.

Begin the application process.

If you believe you qualify for an FHA loan and are ready to apply, the first step is to get pre-approved with your lender of choice.

Get pre-approved for an FHA loan online now »

As you have read above there are many options to the versatile FHA loan. There are pros and cons of choosing an FHA mortgage. To help you navigate the FHA landscape and perhaps other loan options, we suggest you contact one of our mortgage advisors to answer all your questions. There is no fee nor obligation to do so. We are here to serve you and consult with you with complete transparency and your best interest in mind. Call us today!

How to Determine Your Home Loan Eligibility

home loan eligibility

Are you looking to take that next step in your life? Have you finished browsing the net looking for that perfect place to call home?

Are you ready to become a homeowner?

Before you can actively start looking to purchase a property, the first sensible thing to do would be to check out your home loan eligibility.

Why?

Because knowing how much you can borrow not only helps you understand your own financial situation but also it stops you from getting your heart set on a place, only to find it out of your budget.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to check on your maximum home loan potential.

Calculate your Home Loan Eligibility Early To Set Your Search In the Right Area

When it comes to a home loan, the math is actually quite simple. You look at what you have coming in – your income – and you deduct your outgoings each month – your expenditure. The rest is just a matter of seeing how much you can realistically afford to pay back each month.

There are plenty of home loan calculators out there that can help you get a ballpark figure.

The main criteria that get looked at when applying for a home loan are:

Age – As harsh as it sounds, age plays a role in your home loan calculations.

Employment Status – if you are in a stable full-time job, then that is a big check in the plus column because a regular income shows the bank that you are in good standing to make your payments every month. The amount you are earning will also directly influence the amount you can borrow.

Credit Rating / Credit Card History –  If you have been living a debt free life, or at least maintaining your credit card by paying off your purchases in a simple large lump sum each month, then you score maximum points. The better managed your credit card history, the better image you produce for the banks looking to lend you money.

Choosing the Right Home Loan for You

There is more to finding a home loan than just understanding your home loan eligibility. Loan types and duration are also deciding factors.

The core loan types you should be looking at:

Fixed Interest –  The simplest loan. All you need to do is set your interest rate for 15-30 years and simply let your payments run. A great loan for those that are buying with the intention of staying put, and want to know exactly how much they will be paying for the foreseeable future.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages – If your credit rating is working against you, then you can counter balance this to some degree by taking a flexible interest rate loan. Here, the rate is set for a shorter period of time and will then be adjusted.

Federal Housing Administration Loan – For many people, being able to save the average 20% needed for a downpayment on a home, can be tough. With FHA home loans, you can put down as little as 3.5% on a down payment and move on with a fixed interest rate.

The only caveat with this is that you need to take out mortgage insurance, which you can spread over the life of the loan. This totals to approximately 1% of the full loan value.

Buying a Home is the Biggest Decision You Will Make

Making the decision to buy a home is one of the biggest things you will do in your life. To do so without due care and attention can be problematic.

By first understanding your home loan eligibility you can get yourself started on the next phase of your life with a clean conscience, knowing that you are not getting yourself into financial trouble.

If you need help with arranging your home loan or are looking for a quote, get in touch with us today. We are here to help.

Four Quick Tips To Buying Your Next Colorado Springs Home

Buying a home doesn’t have to be stressful! Here are four quick tips to make the process stress free!

1. Find a reputable, experienced real estate pro. Today’s Realtor will not only help you find a home, but also guide you correctly through the whole buying process.

2. Understand the process. Research as much as possible and know what to expect from beginning to end.

3. Know how much you can afford – Eliminate surprises by establishing a budget.

4. Don’t wait to buy real estate…. buy real estate and wait. Real estate is a long-term investment so take your time and find the right home for you and your family!

More information

FHA Loan Limits for Teller and El Paso Counties, Colorado

If you are planning to purchase a home in either Teller or El Paso counties in Colorado, FHA loans may be available that can help you turn your dreams into reality. First though, there are some things you need to understand about Federal Housing Authority loans that can help you make smart financial decisions.

An FHA loan is designed to guard the interests of lenders against the potential of a loan default by the purchaser.  The federal government assumes the risk of the loan and in most cases, offers the buyer more favorable loan terms with a higher dollar limit than he/she could otherwise qualify for. So, generally everyone wins.

Advantages

There are some distinct advantages to using an FHA backed loan to purchase your home. While there are definite limits on what you can borrow, you may qualify for a down payment as low as 3.5 percent.  The loans are assumable, so if you decide to upgrade to another home before your mortgage has matured, the next buyer may be able to assume your favorable rates. That’s important, because the interest rates right now are close to the lowest they have been in decades.

FHA loans also offer some protection to the buyer should he/she come on hard times. This has the potential to protect you if you should lose your job or become ill.  You have the ability to set your payment terms and if needed, you may be able to fund some improvements to your property under FHA. It is important to read your loan terms completely and seek the advice a real estate professional to clarify what your loan offers.

Disadvantages

Is there a down side?  Well, it depends on your perspective, but FHA loans are often capped for specific areas. The insurance and premiums you pay may cost more than a private mortgage and you may or may not be interested in granting the government an interest in your home loan.  It’s really up to you to do the research and understand the terms FHA is offering.

Currently, Teller and El Paso County FHA loans are capped at $284,500 for a single family home, $416,050 for a duplex, $502,000 for a tri-plex and a four-plex is capped at $625,000.  So, if you have wanted to make your home dreams come true in either Teller or El Paso Counties, consider asking your lender for an FHA loan today!

FHA/VA What You Need to Know about Financing Rural Homes

Rural property guidelines that must be followed when financing with an FHA or VA mortgage home loan.

Rural Home Guidelines 1

Courtesy of Mortgage Currentcy

Rural Home Guidelines 2

Courtesy of Mortgage Currentcy

Rural, FHA and VA Home Loan Guidelines

FHA vs VA: What Are the Benefits

FHA home loan programs and VA home loan programs are very similar; they both attempt to give access to affordable home loans to the American people. The biggest difference between the two is that VA home loan programs have been created for America’s veterans of the armed forces. But between the two, would-be home buyers are served. Where one program may not be the best for a borrower, the other program fills in.

VA Home Loan Facts

VA home loan programs are made for qualified veterans as part of the benefits extended after serving in the military. But in order to qualify for a VA home loan programs, a veteran must meet specific criteria:

•A veteran must have a Certificate of Eligibility from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

• A veteran must have good credit (usually for the past two years) and an adequate credit score.

• A veteran must have enough income to repay the loan.

• A veteran must meet debt-to-income requirements as outlined by the VA home loan programs.

• The home must be used as a residence after closing or renovations are complete

Some other individuals also have VA home loan programs available to them, including:

National Guard or Reserve members who meet specific requirements. Widowed spouses of servicemen who died in duty, who have not remarried. U.S. citizens and their spouses who served with an Allied country during World War II.

VA Home Loan Benefits

• No down payment loans

•Good fixed and adjustable interest rates, regardless of credit history

• Lengthened and flexible terms of 15-30 years or more

• No prepayment penalty

• Assistance during financial hardship

•Protection and warranty against discrimination and poor buildings

But some who have just limited time in the armed forces or who cannot qualify for VA home loan programs may still be able to work with the FHA home loan programs. Also, those with no military experience can work with the FHA home loan programs.

FHA Home Loan Facts

For those who can’t take advantage of the VA home loan programs, there are FHA home loan programs available. While the FHA home loan programs do not have many advantages over the VA process, there are some. With the FHA programs, more than half of the loan is insured, a benefit not available in the VA, which should be considered by veterans.

FHA home loan programs are similar to VA loans in many other ways, aside from the insured benefit.

FHA Home Loan Benefits:

• Low down payment

• Federal security, which can mean better terms from lenders

• Flexible terms

•Adjustable payment options

• Good interest rates and affordable payments

• Refinance options for existing loans

Qualifying borrowers can benefit from either the VA home loan programs or the FHA home loan programs. By meeting the requirements of each program, borrowers can make their home ownership goals a reality with good terms and through these good programs.

 

 

 

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