FHA loans vs. conventional mortgages
CONVENTIONAL LOAN FHA LOAN
Credit score minimum 620 500
Down payment 3% to 20% 3.5% for credit scores of 580+; 10% for credit scores of 500-579
Loan terms 8- to 30-year terms 15- or 30-year terms
Mortgage insurance premiums PMI (if less than 20% down): 0.58% to 1.86% of loan amount Upfront premium: 1.75% of loan amount; annual premium: 0.45% to 1.05%
Interest type Fixed-rate or adjustable-rate Fixed-rate
Pros and cons of FHA loans
You can have a lower credit score: If you haven’t established much of a credit history or you’ve encountered some issues in the past with making on-time payments, a 620 credit score — the typical magic number for consideration of a conventional mortgage — might seem out of reach. If your credit score is 580, you’re in good standing with most FHA-approved lenders.
You can make a lower down payment: FHA loans also give the option for a smaller down payment. With a credit score of at least 580, you can make a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent. If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you may still be able to qualify for an FHA-backed loan, but you will need to make a 10 percent down payment.
You can stop renting earlier: Since FHA loans make buying a home easier, you can start building equity sooner. Instead of continuing to rent while trying to save more money or improve your credit score, FHA loans make the dream of being a homeowner possible sooner.
You won’t be able to avoid mortgage insurance: Since your credit score is lower, you’re a bigger risk of default. To protect the lender, you have to pay mortgage insurance. You can roll the upfront insurance premium into your closing costs, but your annual premiums will be divided into 12 installments and show up on every mortgage bill. If you put down less than 10 percent, you have to pay those annual premiums for the entire life of the loan. There’s no escaping them. That’s a big difference from conventional loans: Once you build up 20 percent equity, you no longer have to pay for private mortgage insurance.
You’ll have to meet property requirements: If you’re applying for an FHA loan, the property has to meet some eligibility requirements. The most important is the price: FHA-backed mortgages are not allowed to exceed certain amounts, which vary based on location. You have to live in the property, too. FHA loans for new purchases are not designed for second homes or investment properties.
You could pay more: When you compare mortgage rates between FHA and conventional loans, you might notice the interest rates on FHA loans are lower. The APR, though, is the better comparison point because it represents the total cost of borrowing. On FHA loans, the APR can sometimes be higher than conventional loans.
Some sellers might shy away: In the ultra-competitive pandemic housing market, sellers weighing multiple offers often viewed FHA borrowers less favorably.
|CONVENTIONAL LOAN||FHA LOAN|
|Credit score minimum||620||500|
|Down payment||3% to 20%||3.5% for credit scores of 580+; 10% for credit scores of 500-579|
|Loan terms||8- to 30-year terms||15- or 30-year terms|
|Mortgage insurance premiums||PMI (if less than 20% down): 0.58% to 1.86% of loan amount||Upfront premium: 1.75% of loan amount; annual premium: 0.45% to 1.05%|
|Interest type||Fixed-rate or adjustable-rate||Fixed-rate|
Pros and cons of FHA loans
- You can have a lower credit score: If you haven’t established much of a credit history or you’ve encountered some issues in the past with making on-time payments, a 620 credit score — the typical magic number for consideration of a conventional mortgage — might seem out of reach. If your credit score is 580, you’re in good standing with most FHA-approved lenders.
- You can make a lower down…
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