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The Federal Housing Administration, generally known as "FHA", is the largest government insurer of mortgages in the world. A part of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), FHA provides mortgage insurance on single-family, multifamily, and manufactured homes made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States.

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Common Questions About an FHA-insured Loan

There are lots of good reasons to choose an FHA-insured loan, especially if one or more of the following apply to you:
  • You're a first-time homebuyer.
  • You don't have a lot of money to put down on a house.
  • You want to keep your monthly payments as low as possible.
  • You're worried about your monthly payments going up.
  • You're worried about qualifying for a loan.
  • You don't have perfect credit.

If any of these things describe you, then an FHA-insured loan may be right for you. Why? FHA-insured loans offer many benefits and a level of security that you won't find in other loans including:

Low cost: FHA-insured loans have competitive interest rates because the federal government insures the loans for lenders.

Smaller down payment: FHA-insured loans have a low 3.5% down payment and the money can come from a family member, employer or charitable organization as a gift.

Easier qualification: Because FHA insures your mortgage, lenders may be more willing to give you loan terms that make it easier for you to qualify.

Less than perfect credit: You don't have to have perfect credit to get an FHA-insured mortgage. In fact, even if you have had credit problems, such as a bankruptcy, it's easier for you to qualify for an FHA-insured loan than a conventional loan.

More protection to keep your home: The FHA has been helping people since 1934. Should you encounter hard times after buying your home, the FHA has many options to keep you in your home and avoid foreclosure.

FHA insures loans for lenders against defaults - it does not lend money or set interest rates. For the best interest rate and terms on a mortgage, you should compare mortgages from several different lenders. An FHA-approved lender can help you start the loan application process.

You may use an FHA-insured mortgage to purchase or refinance a new or existing 1- to 4-unit home, a condominium or a manufactured or mobile home (provided it is on a permanent foundation).

What kinds of insured loans does FHA offer?

Fixed-rate loans - Most FHA-insured loans are fixed-rate mortgages (loans). The advantage of a fixed-rate mortgage is that your interest rate stays the same during the loan period, so you know exactly how much your monthly payment will be.

Adjustable rate loans - First-time homebuyers can be a little stretched financially. With FHA's adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), the initial interest rate and monthly payments are low, but these may change during the life of the loan. FHA uses the 1-Year Constant Maturity Treasury Index (CMT) to calculate the changes in interest rates. An index is a measure of interest rate changes that determine how much the interest rate on an ARM will change over time.

The maximum amount that the interest rate on your loan may increase or decrease in any one year is 1 or 2 percentage points, depending upon the type of ARM you choose. Over the life of the loan, the maximum interest rate change is 5 or 6 percentage points from the initial rate. The advantage of selecting an ARM is that you may be able to expand your house-hunting value range because your initial interest rate will be low, as will your payment.

Purchase/Rehabilitation loans - Sometimes you might see a home you'd like to buy, but it needs a lot of work. FHA has a loan for rehabilitating and repairing single-family properties called the SF Rehabilitation Loan program (203k). You can get one loan which combines the mortgage and the cost of repairs. The mortgage amount is based on the projected value of the property with the work completed. The advantage of this loan is that you can buy a home that needs a lot of work, but have only one mortgage payment, and you can complete the repairs after buying the home.

 How do FHA-insured loans compare to conventional loans?

Conventional loans usually require a larger down payment than FHA and if you have less than perfect credit you may not qualify for an affordable mortgage with a low interest rate . The best thing to do is compare the cost of the conventional loan to an FHA-insured loan line-by-line. What are the fees for each? What is the interest rate? How much is the mortgage insurance? How much down payment is required? For some borrowers, a conventional loan may be less expensive. For many others, getting an FHA-insured loan is the way to go.

Do you have to buy mortgage insurance on an FHA-insured loan?

Yes - as you will with most loans.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 provides for a one-year moratorium on the implementation of FHAs risk-based premiums beginning October 1, 2008.  Consequently, effective with new FHA case number assignments on or after that date, FHA will no longer base its mortgage insurance premiums on a combination of credit bureau score and loan-to-value ratio.  The new premiums (upfront and annual) to be implemented for all loans for which a case number is assigned on or after October 1, 2008, are described below. 

Upfront Premiums:  FHA will charge an upfront premium in an amount equal to the following percentages of the mortgage: 

 Purchase Money Mortgages and Full-Credit Qualifying Refinances = 1.00 Percent

Annual Premiums:  An annual premium, to be remitted on a monthly basis, will also be charged based on the initial loan-to-value ratio and length of the mortgage.

 

Most loans require mortgage insurance when your down payment is less than 20% of the sales price. On conventional loans, mortgage insurance is provided by private companies. Whether private mortgage insurance is less than, equal to, or more than an FHA-insured loans insurance will depend upon the loan program and your qualifications.

Compare the cost of FHA to conventional types of loans over the life of your loan. Then compare how much each one costs monthly. With the protection and value you get from FHA - it's a very good deal

 

Calculate Fixed Rate Mortgage Payments

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Use this calculator to generate an amortization schedule for your current mortgage. Quickly see how much interest you will pay and your principal balances. You can even determine the impact of any principal prepayments!

Fixed Rate Mortgage vs. Interest Only Mortgage
A fixed rate mortgage has the same payment for the entire term of the loan. Use this calculator to compare a fixed rate mortgage to Interest Only Mortgage.

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