Judy Kuhtreiber, Realtor | Shrewsbury Real Estate, Marlborough Real Estate, Southborough Real Estate


FHA loans have long been a valuable resource for Americans who want to fulfill their goal of homeownership but who don’t have the benefit of a lengthy credit history and equity.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but want to explore all of your options in terms of financing, this article is for you.

Today we’re going to talk about FHA loans and how to know if you qualify for one.

What are FHA loans?

FHA loans are issued by private mortgage lenders across the country, just like regular mortgages. The difference, however, is that an FHA loan is “guaranteed” by the federal government.

Lenders decide your borrowing eligibility, and how much you can borrow, by determining risk. If you don’t have a sizable down payment (oftentimes 20% or more) and you have a low credit score, most mortgage lenders will see you as a risky person to lend to.

When you get an FHA loan, however, the federal government assumes some of that risk, allowing you to secure the loan anyway.

This means you can buy a home with a low credit score, a smaller than usual down payment, and save on some closing costs.

How do I qualify for an FHA Loan?

To find out if you qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll head to the same place as a traditional mortgage--a mortgage lender. Oftentimes, you can simply call or visit the website of lenders to get the process started.

As with all things, it’s a good idea to shop around for a mortgage lender. Their offerings will be largely similar, but there might be minor differences that make one better than another for your particular circumstances.

Down payment requirements

To secure an FHA loan, you will need to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. However, this low down payment comes with a price. You’ll typically be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees on top of your accruing interest for your loan.

Credit score requirements

While you can often secure a mortgage with a lower credit score through an FHA loan, there are still some requirements. To secure a loan with the lowest possible down payment (3.5%), you’ll need a credit score of 580 or above.

Previous homeowners and FHA loans

A common misconception about FHA loans is that they are only for first-time homeowners. However, you can still qualify for an FHA loan if you’ve owned a home before as long as it has been three years since you’ve had a foreclosure or two years since filing for bankruptcy.

If you meet these three conditions, you should be able to secure an FHA loan through a traditional mortgage lender.


Being a first-time home buyer is tough. It can seem like you have undertaken one of the most overwhelming processes ever. There’s so much to learn in the process of securing a mortgage and closing on a home. If you go into buying a home prepared with knowledge, it will be that much easier for you. 


There’s a lot of terminology to learn about the home buying process. You’ll need to know who should be involved with the transaction including agents, lawyers and bankers. You’ll need to be prepared for the fees involved in buying a home as well. There are many different programs available to help first-time homebuyers that can help you save money and secure your first home. Here’s just some of those programs: 


FHA

This is the Federal Housing Administration and it’s a very popular go-to for first-time home buyers. It’s also great for people who have tarnished credit history. As a borrower with FHA backing, you can qualify for a loan with as little as 3.5% down. These FHA loans have an additional cost built into them which is mortgage insurance. In case you default on the loan, this protects the lender.


The Department Of Veteran’s Affairs


This resource helps veterans, service members and their surviving spouses to buy homes. Often, this program requires no down payment or mortgage insurance. The problem is that getting these kinds of loans can take awhile to process, so you can’t be in a big hurry to buy a home.


Good Neighbor Next Door


This program is meant for teachers, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical responders, which is why it’s called the “Good Neighbor” initiative. This is a program sponsored as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It allows 50% discounts of the price of homes in places considered revitalization areas. All you need to do is be in one of the said professions and commit to living on the property for at least 3 years. The catch is that these homes are listed for just 7 days on the Good Neighbor Next Door website.


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac


These are government-sanctioned companies that work with local lenders to offer good mortgage options for first-time home buyers such as 3% down payment options.


USDA


The U.S Department of Agriculture has its own homebuyers’ assistance program. The benefits are for people who live in rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees in return. There are income limitations that can vary by region.

Assistance Isn’t Hard To Find


As you can see, there are many programs available to help first-time homebuyers. From downpayment assistance to ways that you can keep your mortgage payments low, you can find some help if you need it. You may feel that purchasing a home is something that’s far in the future the future, but with federal programs, more people can realize their dreams of home ownership.        


Making the decision to buy your first home is a big step. One of the most uncertain parts that’s involved in buying a home is that of securing a first-time mortgage. You’ll need to know what types of programs exist to help you on your journey to homeownership. Even if you have owned a home in the past but are now renting your home, you may be eligible for first-time mortgage benefits. 


The first thing you should do is understand your options for getting a mortgage. The Department of Housing and Urban Development often provides you with agents to help you see whether you will, in fact, qualify for a first time mortgage and all the benefits that go along with it. They may also help you to see exactly what programs will work best for you. You can find agencies in your specific area on the HUD website. 


Each state and local municipality have its own resources for those seeking to buy a home as well. These programs may get more specific, helping low-income earners, first-time home buyers and people with disabilities. Of course, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements before qualifying for the programs. Your state and local housing offices are other great places to start when you’re searching for benefits for first-time home buyers.   


Save, Save, Save! 


Even before you think you might be ready to buy a home, you need to start saving. You’ll need a significant down payment, especially if you’re hoping to avoid private mortgage insurance or PMI. If you can’t swing a 20% down payment, there’s good news: First-time home buyers are eligible for loans that require a lower down payment- as little as 3%! 


You’ll also need a significant amount of savings to pay upfront for closing costs. These fees can come in somewhere between 3 and 4% of the purchase price of the home. It won’t be very pleasant if your bank account is completely empty by the time you reach the closing table. This is why it’s a wise idea to save long before you even think you might want to buy a home.      



Look At Your Finances


In the same light of saving money, you’ll want to keep your financial health in check in order to prepare to secure your first mortgage. First, check your credit score and see where you stand. You can take the time to dispute any discrepancies you may find on your report. Then, start paying off any credit card balances that you may have. Remember that the higher your credit score is, the better your chances are of securing a mortgage and being approved for a first-time home buyer program.


Owning a house is a mark of reaching adulthood for some people. It's a sign of financial independence. Having a house to call your own also alerts people to the fact that you trust yourself. After all, you don't know what's going to happen in the future.

Just because you want a house badly doesn't mean you'll get one

And a lot could happen. Job changes, relationship additions and subtractions and personal goal changes are just a few shifts that could occur after you buy a house. You really do need to trust yourself to take on the type of expense that can easily take 30 years to pay off.

It takes courage to own and care for a house, to keep a house in good functioning condition. Another thing that it takes courage to do is to walk away from the chance to own a house. If your finances aren't in good condition, it may very well be hard for you to own a house.

Find a lender who will approve your mortgage and you might struggle to make your loan payments each month. Worse, you might pay your mortgage for five to seven years only to lose the house, tossing away the money that you invested in closing costs, mortgage insurance and homeowner's association fees.

Why paying mortgages could be hard

Risks of losing your house or struggling every month to make mortgage payments is one of the leading reasons why poor finances is the top thing that could make it hard to own a house. Emotion is another major thing that could make it hard to own a house. Besides emotion, there are other key factors that could cause you to struggle with a mortgage. These factors are:

  • Divorce - A contentious divorce could easily leave you in a financial bind. You might be responsible for paying your ex-spouse's housing expenses, making it hard to own a house of your own.
  • Lifestyle - Frequent travel, a love for loud music and a strong social appetite could make it hard to own a house. Your lifestyle could make it hard to comply with homeowner's association rules. It could also create problems with people you live near.
  • Neighbors - Although money is the leading thing that could make it hard to own a house, neighbors might be the second thing that could keep you from home ownership. Disruptive neighbors, hateful neighbors and contentious neighbors could drag you in and out of court so much that you spend years paying legal fees. Because you're dealing with the legal issues, you might not pass a lender's mortgage qualification guidelines.

Money isn't the only thing that makes owning a house hard

Money, emotion, social habits and relationships could make it hard to own a house. They could cause you to hold onto bad habits. These four things could also cause you to develop destructive relationships with neighbors.

Develop destructive relationships with neighbors and you could be forced out of your house even if you make your mortgage payments on time. Upset neighbors won't hesitate to pick up the telephone and call law enforcement. They also can make living next to them so uncomfortable that you choose to move just so you can have peace.