Claire Rainville's Blog
If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.
This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.
In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.
Does the FHA issue loans?
Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.
Will I have to make a down payment?
With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.
What are the benefits of an FHA loan?
The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:
You can qualify with a low credit score
You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages
Your closer costs will be less expensive
Where do I apply for an FHA loan?
You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.
Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?
There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.
Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?
No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.
How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?
You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.
If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.
What information will I need to apply?
You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.
I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?
Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.
Filling out a mortgage application may prove to be a long, arduous process, particularly for those who are buying a house for the first time. Lucky for you, we're here to help you dot the I's and cross the T's on your mortgage application to ensure you can quickly and effortlessly acquire your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare your mortgage application.
1. Be Diligent
A mortgage application may appear daunting at first. The application may include several pages of questions, and you may have only a limited amount of time to finalize your submission.
When it comes to completing a mortgage application, it generally pays to be diligent. If you answer each mortgage application question to the best of your ability, you likely will have no trouble moving forward with your home purchase.
2. Avoid Guessing
If you're uncertain about how to respond to certain mortgage application questions, there is no need to guess. Instead, search for the information that you need to provide a comprehensive response. This will help reduce the risk of encountering potential problems down the line that otherwise could slow down your home acquisition.
Remember, guessing on a mortgage application probably won't do you or your lender any favors. But if you allocate the necessary time and resources to understand mortgage application questions and provide thoughtful responses, you can minimize the risk of application errors.
3. Ask Questions
Completing a mortgage application sometimes can be tricky. Fortunately, a lender employs mortgage specialists who are happy to respond to your application concerns or questions at any time.
If you're unsure about information that is requested on a mortgage application, don't hesitate to reach out to a lender's mortgage specialists for help. These specialists possess extensive mortgage expertise and can help you complete a mortgage application.
Furthermore, mortgage specialists can offer insights into a wide array of mortgage options. These specialists can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and enable you to select the right mortgage option based on your financial situation.
As you prepare to buy a house, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying process.
A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to acquire a house, regardless of the finances at your disposal. This housing market professional can set up home showings, help you submit offers on houses and ensure you can purchase a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations. And if you need help getting a mortgage, a real estate agent may even be able to connect you with the top lenders in your city or town.
Ready to move forward in the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can finalize a mortgage application and secure the financing that you need to acquire your ideal residence.
Many first-time home buyers are worried about all of the documents and information they’ll have to gather when applying for a mortgage. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably dreading having to dig through the five places that these documents might be. Fortunately, the process is now somewhat streamlined thanks to lenders being able to collect most of your information digitally.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about the documents you’ll need to collect when you apply for a home loan so that you feel prepared and confident reaching out to lenders.
Documents needed to pre-qualify
Before going into applying for a mortgage, let’s talk about pre-qualification. There are three types, or in some cases steps, of approval with most mortgage lenders: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval.
Pre-qualification is one of the earliest and simplest steps to getting pre-approved. It gives you a snapshot of the types and amount of loans you can receive. Pre-qualification typically doesn’t include a detailed credit analysis, nor do you need to provide many specific details or documents.
Typically, you’ll fill out a questionnaire describing your debts, income, and assets, and they will give you an estimate of the loan you might qualify for. Might is the key word here. Your pre-qualification amount is not guaranteed as you haven’t yet provided official proof of your information.
Documents needed for pre-approval
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage entails significantly more work on the part of you and your lender than pre-qualification. First, the lender will run a credit analysis. You won’t need to provide them with any information for this step, as they’ll be able to automatically receive the report from the major credit reporting bureaus. However, it’s a good idea to check your report before applying to make sure there aren’t any errors that could damage your credit.
Now is where the legwork comes in.
You’ll need to gather the following documents to get officially pre-approved or approved for a mortgage:
W-2 forms from the previous two years. If you are self-employed, you’ll still need to provide income verification, usually as a Form 1040, or “Individual income tax return.”
Two forms of identification. A driver’s license, passport, and social security card are three commonly accepted forms of identification.
Pay stubs or detailed income information for the past two or three months. This ensures lenders that you are currently financially stable.
Federal and State income tax returns from the past two years. If you file your taxes online, you can often download a PDF version that includes your W-2 or 1040 forms, making the process of submitting tax and income verification much easier.
Personal contact information. Name, address, phone number, email address, and any former addresses which you’ve lived in the past two years.
Bank statements from the previous two months. Also, if you have any assets, such as a 401K, stocks, or mutual fund, you’ll be asked to include those as well.
A complete list of your debts. Though these will likely be on your credit report, lenders want to ensure they have the full picture when it comes to how much you owe other creditors and lenders.
Buying a home represents a dream come true for many individuals. However, to transform this dream into a reality, you'll likely need to qualify for a mortgage.
Finding the right mortgage may seem difficult, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Fortunately, we're here to help you make sense of all of the mortgage options at your disposal so you can select the right option based on your budget and lifestyle.
Here's a closer look at three of the most common mortgage options for homebuyers.
With a fixed-rate mortgage, there are no cost fluctuations. This means that you'll pay the same amount each month for the duration of your mortgage, regardless of economic conditions.
For example, if you sign up for a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you'll wind up paying the same amount each month until your mortgage is paid in full. In some instances, you may even be able to pay off your mortgage early without penalties.
A fixed-rate mortgage often serves as a great option for those who don't want to worry about mortgage bills that may fluctuate over the years. Instead, this type of mortgage guarantees that you'll be able to pay a consistent monthly amount for the life of your loan.
An adjustable-rate mortgage represents the exact opposite of its fixed-rate counterpart. The costs associated with this type of mortgage will change over time, which means you may wind up paying a fixed interest rate for the first few years of your loan and watch this rate go up a few years later.
For instance, a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage means that your interest rate is locked in for the first five years of your loan. After this period, the interest rate will adjust annually. Therefore, a rising interest rate may force you to allocate additional funds to cover your mortgage costs in the future.
An adjustable-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option if you plan to live in a home for only a short amount of time. Or, if you're a college student or young professional, an adjustable-rate mortgage may help you pay less for a home now, secure your dream job and become financially stable by the time your initial interest rate period ends.
3. VA Loans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides loans to military service members and their families. These loans are backed by the government and enable individuals to receive complete financing for a house. Thus, with a VA loan, an individual is not required to make a down payment on a house.
If you ever have concerns or questions about mortgage loans, banks and credit unions are available to help. Also, your real estate agent may be able to offer mortgage insights and tips to ensure you can secure a mortgage quickly and effortlessly.
Learn about all of the mortgage options that are available, and by doing so, you can move one step closer to buying a home that matches your budget and lifestyle.