With FHA loans, borrowers who might not qualify for private mortgages get a chance to own homes. However, you'll need to pay FHA mortgage insurance which protects lenders from a loss if you default.
What are FHA Home Loans?
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) under the Department of Housing and Urban Development backs FHA loans. With this backing, lenders have fewer risks and will offer mortgages with less stringent requirements. Government-backing also secures lenders from loss if you default.
The FHA started its operations in 1934, in the wake of the Great Depression. The HUD department created the FHA to ease homeownership for aspiring Americans who couldn't raise sufficient down payments.
Typically, you can qualify for this loan with a low down payment and low credit score. However, you'll have to pay mortgage insurance to compensate for the more lenient qualification requirements.
First-time home buyers prefer this loan option as it eases the goal of home ownership. However, you don't have to be a first-time home buyer to qualify for this loan.
Are you a Hometown Hero? Find out your eligibility for the Hometown Heroes Loan Program in Monroe County, Florida.
FHA Home Loan Requirements
The loan requirements are attractive for borrowers who couldn't qualify for conventional mortgages. Different lenders have specific requirements, including down payments, credit scores, income requirements, and mortgage insurance.
Here's more information about these requirements.
Down Payment Requirements
Your down payment is the upfront amount you pay for the home. Often, your down payment goes hand in hand with your credit score. A 3.5% down payment for FHA home loans is enough if your credit score is 580 or higher. However, you can make a 10% down payment for a credit score between 500 and 579.
If you cannot raise the required down payment amount, you can take advantage of the down payment assistance programs that Florida Housing offers. This amount could also help you in clearing part of your closing costs.
The down payment assistance programs include:
The Florida Assist Program - With this program, you'll get up to $10,000 on your FHA home loan. This non-forgivable payment becomes due when you sell or transfer the property. You'll also need to pay it in full when you satisfy the first mortgage, refinance the property, or cease to occupy the property.
- The Florida Homeownership Loan Program - This Second Mortgage will also offer up to $10,000. However, the program comes with a monthly payment requirement.
Once you have raised the required down payment, don't keep the money under your mattress as some homebuyers would. Instead, open your preferred bank account, deposit the money, and let it remain there while you scout for a home or mortgage.
Credit Score Requirements
Low and middle-income borrowers prefer FHA loans for their lenient credit score requirements.
A higher credit score lets you qualify with a higher debt-to-income ratio. DTI indicates the percentage of the monthly income you use to pay existing debts. You can determine this ratio by dividing your obligations by your monthly gross income.
Most lenders will require a DTI of 43% to approve your FHA loan. However, your high DTI won't be an issue with a higher credit score. Lenders prefer people with lower DTIs as they pose less risk of defaulting on their loans.
Your credit score depends on diverse factors, including how much you owe on your credit cards and your promptness on your payments. Credit utilization and your credit type might also influence this score.
An FHA-approved appraiser must appraise your home before you get approval. Where necessary, the house might need an inspection. The goal is to ensure that it meets minimum property standards and doesn't pose any safety threats.
Also, you'll only get approval if the home will be your primary residence. Your lender won't issue the loan if the home is an investment property or a second home. In most instances, your lender will require you to settle the property within 60 days of closing.
Lenders will require you to show proof of steady employment history. Suppose you've worked for the same employer over the last two years. Share pay stubs, federal tax returns, bank statements, and W-2s to verify your income.
Diverse FHA Home Loan Options
The loan option you settle for often influences how you can spend the money and the type of home you buy. Therefore, you must acquaint yourself with available options before settling on one. Here are some popular FHA home loans.
Are you experiencing difficulty repaying your loan with the present terms? The FHA rate/term refinance could bail you out. A rate refinances, you change your current loan terms, replacing them with more favorable terms.
You could opt for this option if you want to lower your rate, reduce your payment, or change the term's length. The rate/term refinance also ideal when changing an adjustable rate to a fixed-rate mortgage.
When refinancing, your lender will assess your credit score, home equity, debt-to-income ratio, and closing costs. Upon applying, consider locking in your interest rate to shield it from market fluctuations.
This loan option offers unique benefits on your rate/term refinance. Usually, refinancing your loan helps you lower your monthly mortgage payments. With this option, you can refinance your loan even if your loan is more than the home's worth.
Your lender won't require complete documentation to approve you for this loan. Given that you have an existing FHA home loan, you'll have reduced appraisal requirements and limited employment verification. Also, lenders will require less documentation for income and assets.
To increase your chances of getting approval, ensure that you have no 30-day late payments in the last half year. Essentially, your lender requires you to be in good standing with your existing FHA loan to qualify for an FHA Streamline.
With a purchase loan, you only need a credit score of 580 to qualify with a 3.5% down payment. However, you'll also need a low DTI to qualify for this loan.
FHA 203(k) Loan
Does your home need improvements and renovations? The FHA 203(k) loan offers you the financing to renovate your home. Most lenders will require that you complete the improvements within six months.
Choose between the standard and limited 203(k) loan, depending on the necessary repairs. The standard 203(k) loan offers more freedom on your home repairs, while the limited loan option requires less documentation to qualify. For the limited 203(k) loan, your renovations should not exceed $35,000.
Top projects to consider with this loan option include:
- Replacing dangerous floors
- Improving your home's foundation
- Completing accessibility improvements
- Replacing roofs, gutters, and plumbing.
The Energy-Efficient Mortgage
For energy-efficient renovations, the energy-efficient mortgage program will do just fine. This mortgage option ensures that you make energy-efficient improvements that lower your utility bills.
Before getting approval, you'll need a home energy rater to complete a home energy assessment. Your lender uses this assessment to ascertain that your home will become energy efficient. Besides, the review provides an estimate of your monthly energy savings.
This loan will cater to the material costs, labor, inspections, and critical assessment. You can use the loan to complete different projects, including:
- Installing energy-efficient appliances
- Purchasing energy-efficient panes and windows
- Roofing improvements
- Water heater installations
- Weatherization treatments
- Duct system repairs or installations
If you need long-term value for a long time, then the energy-efficient mortgage will serve you suitably. You'll get a handy way of reducing your energy bills while minimizing your home's overall energy consumption. You could also use the loan to upgrade any outdated home systems.
An FHA loan also allows you to get a cash-out to refinance. With a cash-out refinance, you can get cash for the equity you've built in the home. Essentially, you'll borrow more than you owe and keep the difference.
Once you refinance, it's up to you to decide how you'll spend the money. From catching up on your student loans, making repairs to the home, or covering unexpected costs, the money will be beneficial. Besides, this refinance offers better interest rates compared to what you'll get from credit cards.
You'll need to provide complete documentation for this option to get approval.
FHA Loans Application
FHA-approved lenders offer home loans with their rates, underwriting standards, and costs. You can get these loans from credit unions, community banks, and mortgage firms.
Before starting your application, here are essential steps to consider:
Know your budget - Knowing how much you can afford as a down payment on the home is essential. Assess your current income, savings, and expenses to know how much more you can spare.
Compile Required Documents - Applying for a mortgage requires you to share your financial position willingly. Before applying, compile two years of tax returns, your asset statements, driver's license, and recent pay stubs.
- Compare Available Offers - Ask multiple lenders for pre-approval to compare available refinance rates and terms. The goal is to ensure you get the best possible deal.
Upon identifying your preferred home, find a suitable FHA-approved lender to guide you through application and underwriting. Your lender will perform an appraisal to ensure your loan doesn't exceed FHA's loan limits.
Your credit report, income verification documents, employment history, and proof that the home you will be your primary residence will be necessary at this point.
Next, your lender will require you to demonstrate proof of income. Also, they'll run credit checks and ascertain that you can pay the down payment amount.
FHA Loan Limits in Monroe County, Florida
Often, FHA home loan limits depend on the county where you'll buy the house. If the house is in a high-cost area, you can get up to $970,800 as the mortgage. On the other hand, the limit can be as low as $420,680 in lower-cost regions.
Also, loan limits depend on the property's living units. You'll get a different limit for 1-unit and 4-unit properties. Typically, you won't qualify for properties with more than four units. In Monroe County, you can get up to $1,366,750 for four living units. If you opt for one living-unit home, your loan limit will be $710,700.
FHA Loan Mortgage Insurance
While FHA loans have less stringent requirements, borrowers must pay mortgage premium insurance. This amount ensures that lenders have lower risk exposure. Typically, you'll pay this amount throughout the life of the loan.
However, a down payment of 10% will help you get rid of the insurance after 11 years. Also, it would be best if you remained current with your monthly payments to stop paying the insurance.
With FHA home loans, you'll need to pay an upfront amount and annual mortgage insurance. Usually, the upfront mortgage premium amounts to 1.75% of the loan amount. You could opt to roll this premium into your loan amount.
On the other hand, annual payments are usually 0.45-1.05% of the loan. The actual amount depends on your loan terms, loan-to-value ratio, and loan amount. Despite the name, you'll need to make these payments monthly.
FHA Interest Rates
Borrowers are often keen to understand their interest rates before signing up for a loan. FHA loans offer rates that are competitive compared to conventional mortgages. Typically, the government backing reduces your risk threshold, encouraging lenders to provide you with a lower rate.
Remember that the rates depend on several factors, including your credit score, prevailing market conditions, down payment, government influence, and DTI ratio.
Leverage Diverse FHA Loan Benefits
FHA loans offer a safety net for low-to-moderate income would-be homebuyers. The top benefits of this loan option include:
Lower Credit Score and Down Payment Requirements
Conventional mortgages require homebuyers to have a credit score of at least 620 to get the qualification. This would mean that you need to establish a significant credit history. Also, if you had issues making on-time payments, you might not qualify.
You only need a 580 credit score with FHA loans to get approved. Besides, a 10% down payment guarantees approval for a credit score as low as 500.
Closing Costs Financing
With the FHA loans, sellers can pay up to 6% of the home's selling price to cater to your closing costs. These costs include lender fees, title insurance, property taxes, escrow, and homeowners' insurance.
Shorter Waiting Time After Negative Credit
Previous foreclosures and bankruptcies hinder many people from getting a mortgage. While you'll have to wait four years after bankruptcy to qualify for conventional loans, the FHA only requires you to wait for two years.
On the other hand, the foreclosure waiting period is three years for FHA loans compared to 7 years for conventional loans.
Who Should Consider FHA Loans?
While FHA loans don't have specific income limits, low-to-moderate income people can leverage the loan's benefits.
Also, the FHA designed these loans to suit anyone who had issues affording the down payment required by other loans.
FHA home loans are beneficial for:
- First-time homebuyers
- Anyone rebuilding their credit
- People who can't afford large down payment amounts
- Seniors looking to convert their home's equity to cash
Activities for Children and Families in Monroe County, Florida
Visit the Dry Tortugas National Park - Take the Yankee Freedom to this National Park and explore the beautiful sites on display. Explore the island and enjoy picnic lunches onboard the Catamaran.
Explore the Overseas Highway - Drive through the 113 miles of roadway that has 42 bridges over the Atlantic Ocean's open waters. Catch glimpses of numerous coral and limestone islets that look fragile against the sky and sea.
Spend time at the Key West Garden Club - This tropical garden paradise has delightful garden rooms and intriguing history. Check out the beautiful gardens and orchids at this historic site.
Visit Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden - Let your young ones play with the amazing birds in this secret parrot garden. The volunteers will tell you everything you need to know about parrots. Be sure to donate to the noble task of parrot rescue.
- Dine at Jose's Latin Food - Enjoy some tasty Hispanic cuisines at Jose's Latin Food. Try out the Tostones, Queso, Molidos, Ensalada, and Frijoles. You can quickly make this your ideal lunch spot with the delicious food available.
Should you Settle for an FHA Loan?
Do you need a loan with a lower down payment and more lenient credit requirements? The FHA loan will be a perfect option if you have less-than-descent credit.
FHA loans are ideal for anyone with low-to-moderate income. Remember to explore multiple mortgage options to find a suitable deal.