Simply put, FHA loans are mortgage loans that are part of a government loan program run by the Federal Housing Administration, a department underneath the umbrella HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). The FHA has been regulating and insuring mortgage loans since 1934. While it was originally conceived as a program to assist low-income Americans with buying homes during the Great Depression, today the FHA is the single largest insurer of residential mortgage loans.
Some facts about FHA loans that may interest you include the fact that an FHA home loan is easier to qualify for than conventional loans. This is because lenders know the government is standing behind the FHA home loan. First-time and younger homebuyers are some of the biggest beneficiaries of FHA loans given the maximum loan limit imposed by the HUD/FHA program. This limit does vary by state. In Arizona, and Maricopa County specifically, the maximum FHA loan amount is currently $279,450 for 2017. The FHA loan permits homebuyers to obtain a mortgage up to this amount with only a 3.5 percent down payment of the purchase price (compared to the standard 5 percent with a conventional loan).
Other beneficiaries of FHA loans are those with lower credit scores. Potential homeowners with credit scores ranging from 580 to 600 may be eligible for FHA loans. The FHA guidelines are also much more lenient with potential homeowners as the FHA permits monetary gifts from family members as well as local down-payment assistance programs and state grants. Moreover, FHA loans permit non-traditional credit references such as insurance, utility or rent payments if you haven’t yet established solid credit.
Also, FHA home loans have lower interest rates. The rate you pay for an FHA home loan will be negotiated with an FHA-approved lender since the FHA doesn’t actually provide the financing. Also, the FHA can help you make home upgrades and repairs if you have a fixer upper. For example, the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program can help you lower your utility bills by financing the cost of adding improvements that will increase the energy efficiency of your home. An FHA 203(k) insured loan can be used to purchase a home that needs repairs and improvements, and will provide up to $25,000 on top of the purchase price for these alterations, all within one single loan.
Finally, FHA loans have lower closing costs. However, not every FHA-insured loan package will be the same. Lenders will determine the terms and the rate offered, so be sure to shop around and compare loan offers. We’d be happy to point you in the right direction if this is something you’d like to consider when purchasing your next home.