FHA Loans: Requirements, Loan Limits And Rates

You may be able to purchase a home with the help of an FHA loan, a government-backed mortgage with fewer strict financial requirements. If you have debt or a low credit score, you might be eligible for an FHA loan. Even if you have a bankruptcy or other financial issue on your record, you might be able to acquire an FHA loan.

In this post, we’ll examine FHA mortgages in more detail, including its qualifications and who would be a good candidate for one.

An FHA loan is what?
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), an organization under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) purview, provides insurance for FHA loans. Since FHA loans are guaranteed by the FHA, the owners of your mortgage are simply protected from loss if you are unable to make your loan payments.

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How Do FHA Loans Function?
Depending on their credit score, FHA loans enable homebuyers to borrow up to a specific percentage of a home’s worth. With an FHA loan, homebuyers with credit scores above 580 may borrow up to 96.5% of the value of the property. Homebuyers with credit scores in the range of 500 and 579 can still be approved for an FHA loan with just 10% down.

Although FHA loans have lower minimum credit score requirements and smaller down payment possibilities than other forms of house loans, you still have to pay mortgage insurance.

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What Makes FHA Loans So Alluring?
FHA loans can be appealing due to the possibility of a low down payment and more liberal credit standards, especially for first-time homebuyers, however you don’t have to be a first-time home buyer in order to qualify. Following are some advantages of FHA loans:

In comparison to other loans, there are fewer credit score restrictions.
A smaller down payment may be accepted by your lender.
If you had a bankruptcy or other financial difficulties in your past, you can still be eligible for an FHA loan.
Frequently, FHA closing expenses can be incorporated into your loan.
FHA Loan Conditions
To be eligible for an FHA loan, borrowers must fulfill a number of standards, such as:

An appraiser who has been approved by FHA must evaluate the house you are considering.
A new FHA loan can only be obtained for a home that will serve as your primary residence; it cannot be used to purchase an investment property or a second home.
After closing, the property must be occupied within 60 days.
There must be an inspection, and the inspection must document if the required minimum property requirements are met.
Additional restrictions for eligibility include a minimum down payment, mortgage insurance, credit score, loan limits, and income requirements. For the most part, DACA recipients must meet the same FHA requirements to be eligible for a mortgage. Below, we’ll go through these elements in more detail.

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Loan Down Payments for FHA
Your down payment, which is the amount you put down for a property, is a portion of the home’s purchase price. Your credit score directly affects how much down payment you can afford for an FHA loan. Your credit score, which ranges from 300 to 850, is used to determine how creditworthy you are.

For borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher, the down payment requirement for an FHA loan is 3.5%. Your credit score may be in the 500–579 range if you can put 10% down. For FHA loans, Rocket Mortgage® demands a minimum credit score of 580. You may estimate your monthly payments and see how your down payment amount impacts them with a mortgage calculator.

It should be noted that cash down payments with gift aid for an FHA loan are permitted, but they must be properly recorded to prove that the gift assistance is truly a gift and not a covert loan.

Insurance for FHA mortgages
For all FHA loans, you must pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP). Mortgage insurance is set up to shield the FHA from financial losses in the event that you stop making loan payments.

How long must mortgage insurance be paid for an FHA loan?
A typical FHA loan requires you to pay mortgage insurance for the duration of the loan (unless you put down at least 10%, in which case MIP would only apply for the first 11 years). Mortgage insurance for FHA loans is calculated in a few different ways. The first fee is an upfront mortgage surcharge, which is typically 1.75 percent of your base loan amount.

The FHA MIP: What Is It?
The annual mortgage insurance premium for FHA borrowers is also determined by the term (duration) of your mortgage, your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, the total amount of your mortgage, and the size of your down payment. The annual MIP payments range from 0.15 to 7.5 percent of the basic loan amount.

Credit Scores And FHA Loans
Your credit score is based on a variety of variables, such as:

Your credit history, including any loans, credit cards, etc.
Utilization of credit, or just how much credit you use
whether or not you make your payments on schedule
Your outstanding credit card balance
How much new credit you’ve obtained recently, as well as your FHA loan’s DTI ratio
A higher debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, may be acceptable if you have a higher credit score. DTI stands for the portion of your gross monthly income that is used to pay down debts. Your DTI is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income, which is your monthly income before taxes. A percentage is used to represent this number.

Your DTI Ratio Calculation
Divide your debts—student loans, vehicle loans, etc.—by your gross monthly income to find your own DTI ratio. Your DTI, for instance, would be 25% if your debts, which include your student loans and auto loan, was $2,000 per month and your income was $8,000 per month.

You’ll be in better shape the lower your DTI is. If you do happen to have a higher DTI, you could still qualify for an FHA loan if you have a higher credit score.

The FHA states that your monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 31% of your monthly gross income, and that your DTI should not exceed 43% of monthly gross income in certain circumstances if your loan is being manually underwritten. As noted above, if you have a higher credit score, you may be able to qualify with a higher DTI.

FHA Loan Limits
There’s a maximum limit to what you can borrow for an FHA loan, depending on the county the home is in.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the maximum FHA lending amount for high-cost areas (such as large metropolitan areas) is up to $1,089,300 for 2023 In lower-cost areas, the FHA limit is Loan limits are set based on county property values. These are the limits for one-unit properties. If you have multiple units, limits may be higher.

You can look up the FHA mortgage limits for one or more areas on the FHA mortgage limits page. The page also includes a median sale price value for each area. Those are the median price estimates used for loan limit determination, according to HUD.

FHA Interest Rates
FHA interest rates can be competitive compared to conventional mortgages. This is because the government-backing allows lenders to offer you a lower rate. The rate depends on several factors, including the prevailing interest rates, your income, credit score, the amount you plan to borrow, your down payment amount, DTI ratio and more.

FHA Income Requirements
Your eligibility for an FHA loan doesn’t hinge on a particular income amount, but you must prove that you have a steady employment history. Your income must be verifiable by sharing pay stubs, W-2s, federal tax returns and bank statements with your lender. Your lender may ask for other examples of verification as well.
There are several different types of FHA loans. The type of FHA loan you choose limits the type of home you can buy and how you can spend the money you receive. This makes it especially important to be sure that you’re getting the right type of loan. If none of the following loan types match your goals, you might want to consider another type of government loan.

Let’s look at a few different FHA loan classifications.

When it comes to purchasing a home, you can get in with a little as 3.5% down if you have a median FICO® Score of 580. It’s worth noting that if you have a score that low, you’ll need to keep an equally low DTI. Rocket Mortgage requires a ratio of no more than 38% before your mortgage payment is included, and no more than 45% after the inclusion of your payment.

If your median FICO® is 620 or higher, you may be able to qualify with a higher DTI. In no event will your DTI be able to rise above 57%.

At Rocket Mortgage, you can purchase up to a two-unit property with an FHA loan.

FHA Rate/Term Refinances
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re in some other type of mortgage and you want to take advantage of lower rates, but your credit has taken a hit, you may want to look into an FHA rate/term refinance.

This could be a good option because of its less stringent credit requirements. You can use this to lower your rate or change your term with a FICO® Score median as low as 580, assuming you have a low DTI. You may be able to carry more debt into the transaction if your median FICO® is 620 or higher.

It’s worth noting that depending on the amount of equity you carry into the rate/term refinance, you could end up paying mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan (or at least 11 years with 10% equity or more) in addition to an upfront premium. If you’re already in an FHA loan, you can save some money on your rate/term transaction. Let’s get into that next!

FHA Streamline
An FHA Streamline allows homeowners with FHA loans to do a rate/term refinance with a few special benefits. To begin with, you may be able to refinance into a lower rate even if you owe more on your home than it’s worth.

The logic here is that if you have a more affordable payment, you’re more likely to be able to stay in your home and pay it off, which is good for the FHA. You’ll also usually be able to get a lower mortgage insurance rate as the MIP for FHA Streamlines is 0.55% of your overall loan amount annually. Additionally, the upfront MIP is only 0.01%.

Another benefit of FHA Streamlines is reduced documentation. Every situation is different, but because you already have an existing FHA loan, you may qualify for less documentation in each of the following areas:

Reduced appraisal requirements
Limited employment verification
Less documentation for income and assets
There are some other things to keep in mind. If you don’t have an existing mortgage with Rocket Mortgage, we require a 640 median FICO® Score. If your loan is with us, the required median FICO®
is 580. Additionally, timing is important. You have to have made at least six payments on your current loan before you can do a streamline. Also, at least 210 days have to pass between the first
payment you make on your current loan and the first payment on the new streamline.

Finally, you have to be current on your loan. For the purposes of an FHA Streamline, that means having no 30-day late payments in the last 6 months and only one payment that’s 30 days late in the last year.

Cash-Out Refinance
If you’re looking to get a cash-out refinance, you can do so with an FHA loan. Rocket Mortgage requires a minimum median credit score of 620 for an FHA cash-out refinance. The FHA does require that if you convert your property value into cash, you leave at least 15% equity in your home.

If you’re doing a cash-out refinance, full documentation is required. This includes income and asset sharing as well as employment verification.

FHA 203(k) Loan
While Rocket Mortgage does not offer this particular loan, an FHA 203(k) loan allows you to buy a home and make renovations on a single loan. While it’s possible to only make renovations with a 203(k) loan, this usually isn’t your most affordable choice. The minimum FHA 203(k) loan balance is $5,000 – you cannot borrow less than this. Any home repairs or improvements you make must conclude within 6 months to stay within your loan terms.

Some eligible projects you can complete with a 203(k) loan include:

Replacing old or dangerous flooring
Making improvements to the home’s “modernization.” This can include adding systems like central air or an automatic garage door opener
Adding or replacing roofing, sections of gutters or plumbing
Making accessibility improvements for disabled people who live in the home
Making structural repairs and changes to the home’s foundation
There are two different types of 203(k) loans: Standard loans and Limited loans. Limited loans require less paperwork for approval, while Standard loans give you more freedom to repair your property.