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Federal Housing Administration Loan Requirements, Limits and How to Apply

File Photo: Federal Housing Administration Loan Requirements and Limits
File Photo: Federal Housing Administration Loan Requirements and Limits File Photo: Federal Housing Administration Loan Requirements and Limits

What is a loan from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)?

Mortgages offered by FHA-approved lenders are government-insured. Federal Housing Administration loans provide a smaller down payment and may accept poorer credit ratings than conventional loans. Housing and Urban Development Federal Housing Administration loans can help. ” FHA loans help low- to moderate-income households buy homes. They’re popular among first-time purchasers.

If your credit score falls between 500 and 579, you can still get an FHA loan if you make a 10% down payment.

With FHA loans, the down payment can come from savings, a financial gift from a family member, or a grant for down payment assistance.

What Is the Process of Obtaining an FHA Loan?

As of 2022, FHA loans allow borrowers with a 580 credit score to borrow up to 96.5% of a home’s worth. So, the down payment is merely 3.5%.

Function of the Bank in an FHA Loan

No one gets a mortgage from the FHA. FHA-approved banks issue the loan. The FHA backs the loan. Since the bank doesn’t assume default risk, approval is more straightforward. For that reason, some call it an FHA-insured loan. FHA-approved borrowers must get mortgage insurance and pay the FHA.

History of FHA loans

Congress established the FHA in 1934, during the Great Depression. The housing sector was in trouble: default and foreclosure rates had risen, 50% down payments were prevalent, and mortgage conditions were unaffordable for average-income workers. Thus, most Americans were renters, and only 10% owned their homes. The government founded the FHA to decrease lender risk and make home loans more accessible. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that U.S. homeownership rose to 69.2% in 2004. The second-quarter 2023 rate was 65.9%.

Loan Types at FHA

Besides standard mortgages, the FHA offers various home loans.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage

This reverse mortgage scheme lets seniors 62 and over cash out their home equity while keeping the title. The homeowner can take out a fixed monthly amount, a line of credit, or both.

Improvement Loan FHA 203(k)

Repairs and improvements are factored into this financing. It’s ideal for fixer-upper buyers who want to put in some work.

FHA Energy-Efficient Mortgage

Like the FHA 203(k) improvement loan program, this program focuses on utility bill-lowering enhancements like insulation or solar or wind energy systems.

Section 245(a): Loan

Borrowers who foresee income growth benefit from this scheme. The Graduated Payment Mortgage (GPM) starts with lower monthly payments that rise. The Growing Equity Mortgage (GEM) will raise monthly principal payments. Both guarantee shorter loans.

FHA Loan Requirements?

Your lender will examine your Social Security number, U.S. residency, and legal age (according to your state) to determine your FHA loan eligibility. FHA lending conditions are less strict than bank loan criteria. However, more stringent standards apply. To get a mortgage, your financial history will be checked, regardless of your FHA status.

Down Payments and Credit Scores

FHA loans are offered to those with 500 credit scores. That is a “poor” FICO score. If you can afford a 10% down payment, an FHA loan may be possible with a credit score between 500 and 579. If you have 580 or better credit, you can acquire an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment. A standard mortgage requires a credit score of 620 or higher. Depending on their lending appetite, banks need 3% to 20% down.

Continuous Employment Proof

The FHA-approved lender will demand proof that the applicant can repay the mortgage. Recent and stable employment is crucial to determining if the borrower can provide. Tax returns and a year-to-date balance sheet and profit-and-loss statement can prove this. You may qualify if you’ve been self-employed for less than two years but more than one year and have had an intense work and income history in the same or a comparable occupation for two years.

Generous Income

Your mortgage, HOA fees, property taxes, mortgage insurance, and homeowners insurance should not exceed 31% of your gross income. Banks call this a front-end ratio. The back-end ratio, which includes your mortgage and other monthly consumer bills, should be less than 43% of your gross income.

Premiums on FHA mortgages

An FHA loan needs two mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs): an upfront MIP and a monthly or yearly MIP. The upfront MIP is 1.75% of the base loan.

The MIP can be paid at closing or rolled into the loan. For instance, a $350,000 house loan requires an upfront MIP of 1.75% x $350,000 = $6,125.

These payments go into a Treasury Department escrow account. Loan default proceeds will go toward mortgage payments.

Annual MIP payments range from 0.15% to 0.75% of the original loan amount and are made monthly. Payment amounts vary depending on the loan amount, term, and LTV ratio.

Suppose your yearly MIP is 0.55%. At 0.55%, a $350,000 loan would need $1,925 in yearly MIP payments (or $160.42 monthly). These monthly charges supplement the initial MIP payment. The loan duration and LTV determine whether you make yearly MIP payments for 11 years or the life of the loan.17

Premiums are no longer tax-deductible. In 2022, this provision expired. You may still deduct mortgage interest. You have to itemize your deductions—rather than taking the standard deduction—to achieve this.

Homes Eligible for an FHA Loan

Most loans require your primary house to be owner-occupied. In other words, FHA loans are not for investment or rental homes. The FHA will finance detached and semi-detached houses, townhouses, rowhouses, and condos in authorized condo complexes. An FHA-approved appraiser is required, and the residence must fulfill minimal requirements. If the home doesn’t meet these criteria and the seller won’t fix it, you must pay at closing. Funds are held in escrow until repairs are done.

Federal Housing Administration Loan Limits?

FHA loans have borrowing limitations. The “floor” and “ceiling” of FHA loans vary by geography, with lower-cost regions having a lower limit and higher-cost areas having a greater maximum.
High building prices in “special exception” locations like Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands increase constraints.

In other areas, the HUD-specified restriction is 115% of the county’s median house price.

Assistance with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans

FHA loan assistance may be available if you’ve suffered a financial hardship like a loss of income or higher living expenses. For instance, the FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) can permanently decrease your mortgage payment. The program is suspended until October 30, 2024.
To join the program after restarting, you must complete a trial payment plan by making three on-time payments at the reduced, adjusted amount.

FHA Loan Pros and Cons

For applicants who cannot get private lender financing, FHA loans are typically the best option. Thus, FHA loans are available to those with poorer credit scores, more considerable debt, and higher debt-to-income ratios.

FHA loans have higher interest rates and need upfront and monthly MIPs due to their riskier applicants. FHA loans have borrowing limitations and can only be used for primary residences.

How can I get a Federal Housing Administration loan?

You apply for an FHA loan with your chosen bank or lender. Most banks and mortgage lenders are FHA-approved.

Your lender can pre-approve an FHA loan. The lender will gather financial information to pre-approve or refuse within a day. That will show you how much you can borrow without committing.

The preceding applies to all mortgage applications. You should state your FHA loan preference upfront.

What is the maximum Federal Housing Administration loan amount?

That depends on your location and loan repayment ability. Your financial situation determines your borrowing limit.

The maximum FHA loan varies by area.

One-unit home loan limitations in 2023 range from $472,030 in low-cost areas to $1,089,300 in high-cost locations. Higher rules apply to two-, three-, and four-unit properties. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the USVI have more significant unit size restrictions.

How much is Federal Housing Administration loan mortgage insurance?

FHA loans need an upfront premium cost that can be incorporated into the mortgage and a monthly or yearly premium that goes to the FHA.

  • The upfront cost is 1.75% of the loan.
  • Loan amount, duration, and LTV determine the yearly premium of 0.15% to 0.75%.

Enter figures into an FHA Loan Calculator to determine expenses. For instance, a 30-year FHA loan at 7.125% on a $400,000 property will cost $2,646 plus $176 in mortgage insurance.

How can I remove FHA mortgage insurance?

FHA mortgage insurance lasts the loan or 11 years, depending on LTV.
The only way to remove mortgage insurance is to refinance with a non-FHA loan. Your FHA loan will be fully repaid. Having 20% equity in the house should eliminate the need for mortgage insurance.

What Are the Federal Housing Administration Loan Drawbacks?

FHA mortgages require mortgage insurance and have higher interest rates. FHA loans have constraints and are less flexible.

Bottom Line

The FHA loan helps people who banks would turn down become homeowners. They may have little down payment funds or bad credit. They may not qualify without the government’s assurance that the bank will receive its money back. Those with a large down payment may be better off with a traditional mortgage. They may avoid mortgage insurance and earn a cheaper interest rate.

FHA loans were not designed for high-priced homebuyers. FHA loans were designed to help low- and moderate-income homeowners, especially those with little down payment money.


  • FHA loans are for applicants who have trouble getting private loans.
  • The federal government insures FHA loans.
  • The first mortgage insurance fee (MIP) is upfront, and the second is yearly but paid monthly for FHA borrowers.
  • Banks are more likely to lend to homeowners with bad credit ratings and little down because they are insured.
  • First-time homeowners may find FHA loans the cheapest.


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