7 Myths about FHA Loans that Aren’t True


fha loan myths

FHA loans are one of the more popular types of home loans used today because of their low credit and down payment requirements. However, as the mortgage industry changes post-coronavirus, what was once true about FHA loans is no longer.

Check Rates: Check Today’s FHA Loan Rates 

Myth #1. FHA Loans Are Only for First-Time Homebuyers

Of course, FHA home loans are loved by first-time homebuyers because of their low down payment and credit score requirements. But, FHA loans are not just for first-time buyers.

The Federal Housing Administration guarantees mortgage loans for all types of borrowers, whether they’re purchasing their first home or their fifth. The FHA does not require borrowers to be first-time homebuyers to qualify.

FHA Loan Requirements

  •  580 credit score with 3.5% down
  • 500-579 score with 10% down
  • Maximum 50% debt-to-income ratio
  • Two years of stable employment and income history
  • For primary residence only
  • 24 month waiting period after a foreclosure or bankruptcy
  • 1% of student loan debt added to DTI ratio

 

Myth #2. FHA Loans Can Only be Used To Buy Single-Family Homes

FHA loans are available on a variety of different types of homes. Single-family homes are the most common home type financed with an FHA mortgage, but you can buy multifamily homes between 2-4 units. Townhomes, condos, and manufactured homes may also be purchased if they meet the FHA minimum property standards.

FHA Eligible Property Types

  • Single-family homes
  • 2-4 unit multifamily properties
  • Manufactured and mobile homes
  • Condos and Townhomes

 

Myth #3. FHA Loans Are Only For People With Bad Credit

FHA loans have the lowest credit score requirements of any mortgage loan. Borrowers may qualify with a 500 credit score and a 10% down payment. With at least a 580 credit score, borrowers may be eligible for an FHA mortgage with just 3.5% down.

FHA loans allow for higher debt-to-income ratios than other types of home loans. Conventional loans have a maximum DTI ratio of 43%, while lenders can go up to a 50% DTI ratio for FHA loans. Borrowers with good credit but low income or without a large down payment will have an easier time qualifying for an FHA loan than the alternatives.

FHA Credit Requirements

  • No more than one late payment on any account in the past 12 months
  • No late mortgage payments in the past six months
  • Two year waiting period after bankruptcy or short sale
  • Three year waiting period after a foreclosure
  • Collections, judgments, and federal debt should be paid or on a payment plan

 

Myth #4. You Can Get an FHA Loan with a 580 Credit Score

Not every lender has the same minimum FHA credit requirements, and many lenders require a 620 score. Some lenders can work with credit scores as low as 580, but lenders look at more than just your credit score.

Late payments, collection accounts, or significant debt can cause you to be denied even if you meet the minimum credit score requirement. If you have a credit score below, 620 lenders will want to see compensating factors that strengthen the loan application. Things like a high a low DTI ratio, high income, or a large amount of cash reserves will help increase your odds of being approved with poor credit.

You should speak with an FHA lender to see if you meet the minimum credit requirements.

Myth #5. FHA Loans Require MIP for the Life of the Loan

The FHA mortgage insurance premium, which is added to the monthly mortgage payment, is how the FHA loan program is funded. If you have a down payment of less than 10%, then you will be required to carry MIP for the life of the loan or until you refinance into a conventional mortgage.

FHA borrowers with at least a 10% down payment will have to carry MIP for 11 years.

• Down payment of 10% or more MIP duration is 11 years 

• Down payment of less than 10% MIP is required for the life of the loan

Myth #6. Conventional Loans are Better than FHA

This could be true, but it all depends on the borrower’s situation. If they have a 20% down payment and a 620 credit score, then a conventional mortgage is a better loan option because they will be able to avoid paying mortgage insurance.

But some home buyers don’t have the credit to qualify for a conventional loan. Borrowers with a low income, credit score, or down payment will find that FHA loans are the best option for them.

FHA Loans

Conventional Loans

Credit Score Requirement

500+

620+

Down Payment 

3.5%

5%-20%

Mortgage Insurance

Required on all FHA loans


Not required with 20% down

Upfront Insurance Premium


1.75%


Not required

Interest Rates

Lower rates

Higher rates

Loan Limits

$331,760-$765,600

$510,400-$765,600

Maximum Debt-to-Income


50%


43%

Borrower Requirements

Easier to qualify for


Harder to qualify for

Eligible Residences

Primary residence only

No restrictions

Comparing FHA vs. Conventional Loans

Myth #7. FHA Loans Have The Lowest Down Payment

FHA loans require just a 3.5% down payment, but it’s not the lowest down payment of any mortgage.

These mortgage loans have a lower down payment requirement than FHA loans.

  • VA loan – VA loans are for qualified veterans that require no down payment or mortgage insurance.
  • USDA loan – The USDA loan program is a zero down payment home loan for low-income borrowers in rural areas of the country.
  • Home Possible loan – The Home Possible Loan Program from Freddie Mac is a type of conventional loan for low-income first-time homebuyers, which requires just a 3% down payment.
  • HomeReady loan – The HomeReady program from Fannie Mae is very similar to the Home Possible program. First-time homebuyers who meet the HomeReady requirements are eligible with a 620 credit score and 3% down.

No and Low Down Payment Mortgage Options

Credit Score

Down Payment

Income

FHA Loan

580

3.5%

No income limits

VA Loan

580-620

No down payment

No income limits

USDA Loan

640

No down payment

115% of AMI

HomeReady /Home Possible

620

3%

 80% of AMI