When it comes to home buying, there are many different types of mortgages available. One option that may be suitable for some individuals is an FHA mortgage. FHA mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration. They are designed to help people who might not be able to qualify for a traditional mortgage obtain financing for a home. While there are certainly benefits to an FHA mortgage, there are also some drawbacks to consider.
Pros of an FHA Mortgage
Lower Down Payment Requirements
One of the most significant advantages of an FHA mortgage is the lower down payment requirements. Typically, a borrower can put down as little as 3.5% of the home’s purchase price. This is much lower than the 20% down payment required for many traditional mortgages. For someone who is struggling to save for a down payment, an FHA mortgage can be a more accessible option.
More Lenient Credit Score Requirements
Another benefit of an FHA mortgage is that the credit score requirements are generally more lenient than those for a traditional mortgage. Borrowers with a credit score as low as 580 may be able to qualify for an FHA mortgage, while a traditional mortgage may require a score of at least 620. This can be a significant advantage for someone who has struggled with credit issues in the past.
Flexible Debt-to-Income Ratio
In addition to more lenient credit score requirements, FHA mortgages also have more flexible debt-to-income ratio requirements. While traditional mortgages may require a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio to be no higher than 43%, FHA mortgages may allow a ratio as high as 50%. This can be helpful for someone who has a lot of debt or a lower income.
Easier to Qualify for with a Lower Income
An FHA mortgage can also be easier to qualify for if you have a lower income. Because the debt-to-income ratio requirements are more flexible and the credit score requirements are more lenient, someone with a lower income may still be able to qualify for an FHA mortgage. This can be a significant advantage for someone who may not be able to afford a home with a traditional mortgage.
Another unique benefit of an FHA mortgage is that it is assumable. This means that if you sell your home, the buyer can assume your mortgage and take over the remaining balance. This can be an attractive feature for someone who is looking to sell their home in the future.
Cons of an FHA Mortgage
Mortgage Insurance Premiums
One of the biggest drawbacks of an FHA mortgage is the mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). Unlike a traditional mortgage, an FHA mortgage requires MIP, which is essentially insurance for the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan. MIP is paid both upfront at the time of closing and as a monthly payment. This can add a significant amount to the monthly mortgage payment and can make the loan more expensive over time.
Limited Loan Amounts
Another downside of an FHA mortgage is that there are limits on how much you can borrow. These limits vary by location and are determined by the median home price in that area. For someone who is looking to buy a more expensive home, an FHA mortgage may not be a viable option.
To qualify for an FHA mortgage, the property you are purchasing must meet certain requirements. These requirements can include things like the condition of the property, its age, and its location. Cooperatives, which are typical in New York City, can not be purchased with an FHA mortgage due to the fact that it is not real property. Condos may also pose an issue as the condo complex must be approved for FHA mortgages. This process can be long and daunting and many condos don’t bother with partaking in it. This can limit the homes that are available to someone who is looking to purchase with an FHA mortgage.
Longer Closing Time
Another disadvantage of an FHA mortgage is that the closing time can be longer than with a traditional mortgage. This is because there are more requirements and paperwork involved in the process. For someone who is looking to close on their home quickly, this can be a significant drawback.
Finally, FHA mortgages may not be available from all lenders. Some lenders may choose not to offer FHA mortgages due to the additional requirements and paperwork involved. This can limit the number of options available to someone who is looking for an FHA mortgage.
Overall, an FHA mortgage can be a good option for someone who is struggling to qualify for a traditional mortgage. The lower down payment requirements, more lenient credit score requirements, and flexible debt-to-income ratio can make an FHA mortgage a viable option for someone who has a lower income or has struggled with credit issues in the past. However, it’s important to consider the drawbacks as well, such as the mortgage insurance premiums, limited loan amounts, and property requirements. Before deciding on an FHA mortgage, it’s important to do your research and weigh the pros and cons carefully to determine if it’s the right choice for you.