One of the biggest hurdles that first time homebuyers face is saving up for a sizable down payment on a home. Even experienced homeowners may need to plan for a long time for a new home purchase. Fortunately, FHA loans may help home buyers get into the home of their dreams with a lower down payment.
What is an FHA loan?
FHA loans are mortgages backed by the U.S. Federal Housing Administration. Lenders, such as banks and credit unions, that provide FHA loans provide funding for home purchases while requiring a lower down payment. Buyers can get into a new home with as little as 3.5% down.
Using conventional loans, a lower down payment requires the borrower to get private mortgage insurance. This special type of insurance protects the lender just in case the borrower is not able to pay. The cost of PMI is added to the monthly payment until the amount of the loan reaches 20%. FHA loans, on the other hand, do not require PMI because they are backed by the U.S. government. Additional scrutiny is often required during the loan application process using an FHA loan.
What is required for an FHA loan?
Many of the same documents are required for an FHA loan that any potential lender will want to see: employment history, appraisal, debt-to-income ration. A few additional stipulations are also attached to the FHA loan process. Buyers have to bring 3.5% of the purchase price as a down payment, more if they have a credit score below 580. FHA loans are only available for the borrower’s primary residence.
Credit requirements can also be lower for FHA loans, given other factors demonstrate that the borrower is able to manage their money responsibly. Each lender looks at individual applications and may ask for additional documentation or explanations, but are often able to work with buyers with a lower credit score or shorter credit history than in other situations.