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What should I know about applying for an FHA mortgage? FHA home loans differ from their conventional counterparts in many ways including a lower down payment requirement, generally more forgiving credit requirements, and occupancy rules.

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November 17, 2017
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FHA Loan Articles

News and Updates for Homeowners

What Should I Know About Applying for an FHA Mortgage?

What Should I Know About Applying for an FHA Mortgage?
November 2, 2017 - For maximum financing, FHA loan rules say FICO scores of 580 or better are required. However, lender standards may be higher-check with your chosen financial institution to see what FICO score minimums apply there.

FHA Payment Requirements: The “12 Month Rule”

For best results, you should plan to begin the FHA loan application process with no less than 12 consecutive calendar months of on-time payments for all financial obligations including rent/mortgage payments. Those 12 months should be up to and including the month you apply for the loan.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Most FHA mortgage loans today (with certain exceptions listed in the FHA loan handbook for transactions on tribal lands or Hawaiian homelands) require an Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) and an annual mortgage insurance premium which is paid in installments over 12 months. The monthly payment is considered part of your monthly mortgage obligation.

Mortgage Loan Amount Rules: No Cash Back on Forward Mortgages

FHA “forward mortgages” or purchase loans can be made only for the amount of the mortgage plus approved add-ons to the loan amount; UFMIP, certain closing costs, etc.

Forward loans will not result in cash back at closing time unless you are due a refund for something paid up front but later financed into the loan. FHA forward mortgages cannot be used as a personal loan-some want to apply for more than the transaction requires and take the excess in cash. This will not happen with FHA mortgages.

Minimum Down Payments

The FHA loan minimum down payment requirement for forward mortgages is 3.5% of the adjusted value of the home. Some make higher down payments due to credit issues as a “compensating factor”. Some want to know if there is a no-money-down option with FHA mortgages, but the only kind of zero down payment FHA new purchase loan available is intended to assist victims of a natural disaster in a federally declared disaster area.

FHA Loan Requirements for Occupancy, Residency

FHA home loans-new purchase mortgages, One-time Close construction loans, 203(k) rehab loans, and others-require the borrower to be an owner/occupier of the property secured by the FHA mortgage. When it comes to U.S. residency issues, the borrower(s) do not have to be United States citizens. FHA loan rules state that the applicant must be in the U.S. legally and have documentation to prove it. That means resident aliens and nonresident alien loan applicants are permitted. Documentation of legal status is required.