The Lending Coach

Coaching and teaching - many through the mortgage process and others on the field

Tag: Low Down Payment

FHA and Conventional Mortgage Options – Which is Better?

I’m often asked about the different types of loans available for those with a limited down payment.  The main options are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conventional mortgages or FHA loans.  But which one is best?

The FHA versus conventional analysis involves taking a look at your credit score, your available down payment, and your long-term financial goals.

Let’s take a look at all 3 issues:

1. Credit score – buyers with low-to-average credit scores may be better off with an FHA loan. FHA mortgage rates are generally slightly lower than conventional ones for applicants with lower credit, and FHA loans allow credit scores down to 580.

2. Down payment – borrowers can come in with a lower down payment with conventional products, at just 3% down. FHA requires 3.5% percent down.

3. Long-term goals – conventional mortgage insurance can be cancelled when the home achieves 20% equity. FHA mortgage insurance is payable for the life of the loan and can only be canceled with a refinance. Buyers who plan to stay in the home five to ten years may opt for conventional, as the FHA mortgage insurance can add up over time.

For a more, I’d invite you to visit the source at The Mortgage Reports and Dan Green’s post.

FHA Or Conventional – Which is Superior?

There are a multitude of low-down payment options for today’s home buyers but most will choose between the FHA 3.5% down payment program and conventional options such as HomeReady, Home Possible, and Conventional 97.

So, which loan is better? That will depend on your circumstance.

For example, in deciding between an FHA loan and a conventional option, the borrower’s individual credit score matters greatly. This is because the credit score determines whether the borrower is program-eligible; and, it affects the monthly mortgage payment, too.

FHA loans are available with credit scores of 580 or better. The conventional options, by contrast, require a minimum credit score of 620.

Therefore, if your credit score is between 580 and 620, the FHA loan is essentially the only available option.

As your credit score increases, though, the conventional options become more attractive. Your mortgage rate drops due to the lower score and your mortgage insurance costs do, too. This is different from how FHA loans work.

You can find out much more about mortgage insurance here….

With an FHA loan, your mortgage rate and MIP cost the same no matter what your FICO score.

Therefore, over the long-term, borrowers with above-average credit score will typically find conventional loans more economical relative to FHA ones.

In the short-term, though, FHA loans generally win out.

A Second Thought

One main consideration has to be the length of time you would expect to “keep” this mortgage. 

Borrowers should take into consideration that FHA MIP is forever but conventional mortgage insurance goes away at 80% loan-to-value. This means that, over time, your conventional option can become a better value — especially for borrowers with high credit scores.

It’s hard to know for how long you’ll hold a loan, though. Sometimes, we expect to live in a home for the rest of our lives and then our circumstances change. Or, sometimes mortgage rates drop and we’ve given the opportunity to refinance.

As a general rule, though, in rising-value housing market, if you plan to stay in the same home with the same mortgage for longer than six years, the conventional 97 may be your better long-term fit.

One other thing to consider is upfront charges.

The FHA charges a separate mortgage insurance premium at the time of closing known as Upfront MIP. Upfront MIP costs 1.75% of your loan size, is generally added to your balance, and is non-recoverable except via the FHA Streamline Refinance.

Upfront MIP is a cost. The conventional versions do not charge a fee.

FHA vs Conventional Infographic

 

Image Courtesy of  The Mortgage Reports

You can find out much, much more about low-down payment options, as well as the specifics of these loans here.

For today’s low down payment home buyers, there are scenarios in which the FHA loan is what’s best for financing and there are others in which the conventional option is the clear winner. Rates for both products should be reviewed and evaluated.

It would be my pleasure to help you find the version that’s most optimal for your situation, so please do contact me for more details!

3% Down Payment Options with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Home purchasing has just become a lot easier for a large number of potential buyers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s two main mortgage giants, now have programs for home purchases with just a 3% down payment.

 

If you’re shopping for a low down payment mortgage, there are options as low as 3% down!

By the way, that’s even lower than FHA requires.

A 20% down payment is considered ideal when buying a home, but saving up that much can be a challenge.  The good news is there are a number of low down payment mortgages available today.

Many homebuyers assume they need impeccable credit scores to qualify for a loan that requires just 3% down. That’s not the case, either.

Here are some of the programs available:

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady

With its new HomeReady mortgage, the giant mortgage backer looks to help first time homebuyers and repeat buyers alike.

Here are few of the highlights of the HomeReady mortgage program:

  • As little as 3% down payment
  • Lower private mortgage insurance costs
  • Down payment sources include gifts, cash-on-hand, and down payment assistance programs.
  • Use income from non-occupant co-borrowers to qualify
  • Income from non-borrowing household members helps your approval.
  • “Boarder income” (income from a roommate) helps you qualify.

Fannie Mae’s HomeReady low down payment home loan allows for buyers to obtain loans up to $453,100 with as little as 3% down.

The borrower(s) must live in the home, so you can’t buy second homes or investment properties. You can buy two- to four-unit properties as long as you’re living in one of the units, but your down payment requirements will increase if you buy a two to four-unit property.

Income Limits for the HomeReady Mortgage

Income limits are set by geographical areas for this particular loan program. In underserved areas, there are no income limits. In more economically developed areas, Fannie Mae has limited the amount of money HomeReady applicants can make.

Essentially, this policy ensures the program is reserved for the ones who need it most. The following is a breakdown of income limits.

  • Properties in low-income census tracts: no income limit
  • Homes in high-minority areas and designated disaster areas: 100% of the area’s median income
  • Properties in any other area: 100% of the area’s median income

For instance, a home buyer in Los Angeles County finds a home within an area that limits income to 100% of the median income. The median income for Los Angeles is $67,200 so that is the most the buyer can make and still buy the home.

If the borrower makes more than this, he or she could find a home in an underserved area with no income limit. Upon a successful home search, he or she could use HomeReady.

Fannie Mae has published HomeReady eligibility maps for each state that detail each geographical area. It can be difficult to see the exact boundaries. Be sure to check the property address of the home you want to buy and your income by contacting me here….and there is a mandatory home counseling class that must be done online for a small fee.

Home Ready mortgages do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here….

For more, see Tim Lucas’ post at My Mortgage Insider

Freddie Mac’s Home Possible (and Home Possible Advantage)

Home Possible and Home Possible Advantage are two conventional loan programs created by Freddie Mac. They are affordable given their smaller 3% to 5% down payment requirement. The one that’s right for you will depend upon your income, the type property you wish to finance, and property location.

Both the Home Possible and Home Possible Advantage programs help primarily first-time home buyers. With that said, neither program restricts “move-up” buyers.

However, to use either program you cannot have an ownership interest in any other residential property.

For example, if you are a move-up buyer, you must sell your current home before taking on a Home Possible loan.

Both programs are used for purchases or refinances. In the case of refinances, no cash-outs are allowed. Refinances can only be used to change the interest rate or term, as would be the case when switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage.

Home Possible Down Payments

Many mortgage programs require that some of the down payment funds come from the borrower. Home Possible mortgages allow funds from a variety of sources to help you reach the 3% to 5% down requirement. Money used for your down payment can come from:

  • Family and friends
  • Affordable seconds programs (federal, state or municipal programs that provide down payment assistance)
  • Employee assistance programs

If family and friends help you with gift funds, you and your donors will need to sign a mortgage gift letter – a legal document that states all funds are truly a gift, not a temporary loan you’d pay back.

Home Possible Income Limits

Because the Home Possible loan programs are designed for low to moderate-income borrowers, income limits apply. To be eligible for either mortgage program, your income cannot exceed the Area Median Income (AMI) where the property is located.

There are a few exceptions to the income limit guidelines. The first exception is in high-cost areas, as you’d find near big cities. In more expensive areas, higher incomes are allowed. For example, 140% of AMI will still qualify in some parts of California.

Second, there’s no borrower income limit in rural or underserved areas. The easiest way to determine your local income limits and property eligibility (e.g. underserved area) are to search using Freddie Mac’s income and property eligibility tool.

Home Possible mortgages do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here…. and there is a mandatory home counseling class that must be done online.

Conventional 97

This low down payment home loan allows for first-time buyers to obtain a loan up to $453,100 with 3% down. It must be used for a primary residence, so this loan isn’t available for a 2nd home.

The difference between this program and Fannie’s Home Ready version, is that there are NO income limits or geographic restrictions.

You can use your own funds or gift funds from a family member for the down payment, and the home must be an owner-occupied single unit home (including condos).

Conventional 97 Loan Limits

Loan limits are the maximum loan amount available to borrowers who wish to take out a mortgage. Loan limits are set by county (and sometimes at a more granular level). A price adjustment is made so that the maximum loan amount reflects average home prices surrounding the property.

Borrowers get a little more headroom to the upside when buying in a big city than rural areas. So there are two core limits outlined below: the first one applies to most counties across the United States and second one applies to big metro areas. Fannie Mae provides a search tool to find conventional loan limits by property address. Conventional 97 loan limits are as follows:

  • $453,100 in most counties
  • $679,650 in high-cost areas

Conventional 97 mortgages are 30-year fixed loans, and do require mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is an extra fee on top of the monthly mortgage payment. You can find out more about mortgage insurance here….

As you can see, there are plenty of low down-payment options available to borrowers today please do reach out to me for more information, as it would be my pleasure to help!

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