10 Best FHA Loans of 2018
We compare and review the FHA Lenders in the country today. Make your home purchase a little bit easier by working with the Best FHA Providers.
FHA loans are mortgages that are issued by banks and finance companies, but insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This federally-guaranteed insurance enables financial institutions to be more confident about writing mortgages for people with lower incomes and credit scores. The FHA loan program was created during the height of the Great Depression to make it possible for less affluent people to purchase their own homes. Since then, it has evolved to become the largest insurer of home mortgages in the world.
The FHA loan program is particularly helpful to first-time homebuyers and people whose credit histories and/or income levels might not qualify them for conventional mortgages. In order to qualify, prospective homebuyers must meet several requirements. They must procure their mortgage through an FHA-approved lender. They must live in the home and use it as their primary residence. They must meet certain loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios. They must make a down payment of at least 3.5%. The premises must meet FHA health, safety, and valuation guidelines. And the purchasers must pay two types of mortgage insurance premiums, one larger one at the inception of the mortgage and another series of smaller monthly payments.
In comparing FHA-approved lenders, it’s important to understand that FHA sets basic rules that must be followed by all participating financial institutions. Therefore, there won’t be much variation in the fundamentals of the mortgage terms, since these are regulated by the federal government. Instead, consumers may differentiate among different lenders by evaluating their customer service and the interest rate and fees associated with the mortgages on offer.
FHA loans are not for everyone. People with higher incomes and credit scores may find better rates on conventional mortgages and save considerably by not having to pay the mortgage insurance premiums FHA loans require. Veterans and members of the armed forces may be able to get VA loans that require no down payment at all. Still, FHA loans can be very attractive for people who are buying their first home, who haven’t established a good credit history, and who are unable to put up a sizable down payment.
We weight the factors discussed below according to the results of a consumer survey conducted by Google. Respondents were asked what factor was most important in considering FHA loan companies.
Top 10 Companies
- Requirements and offers in under 5 minutes!
- Low credit score, low interest rate, low down payment
- Serving over 30 million customers
- Offering a wide range of financing products
- 3 types of 203(b) FHA loans available
- 9.3 score on TrustPilot
- Compare up to 5 free offers with no obligation
- Quick closing times
- One of the largest independent mortage lenders
- A direct lender—loan processing, underwriting, closings, and funding are handled at local branch offices
- A+ rating by the BBB
- Offices in 38 states
- Top independent mortgage company in the United States as ranked by CoreLogic
- Very informative website with lots of FHA loan info and links
- FHA lender marketplace allows customers to query different lenders
- Mortgage and affordability calculators
- Publishes daily mortgage rates
- Easy to use web interface
- Referrals to the best FHA lenders
- A subsidiary of Quicken Loans, the largest online lender
- Apply and receive a decision in minutes
- Entire loan process is done online
- 30-year, 25-year, 20-year, and 15-year FHA fixed-rate mortgages
- Minimum credit score of 580
- Compare quotes within minutes
- Receive competing FHA mortgage loan offers
- Quick and easy
- Choose a loan for refinance or purchase
- FHA Loans and FHA Streamline Refinance mortgages
- Free FICO credit score
- Online account management and mobile app
- No online fees
- 100% US-based customer service
- Low down payments
- Ideal for first-time home buyers
- Maximum loan amount varies with housing costs
- Fixed rate mortgages
- Large network of reputable mortgage lenders
- Competitive rates and multiple online quotes
- Options for borrowers with low credit scores
- Referrals to local, licensed real estate agents
- Over 160 years of experience
- Track the status of your loan and upload documents
- Minimum FICO score of 620
- 30-year fixed rate FHA loan
How We Compare FHA Loans
Since they are regulated by the U.S. Federal Government, FHA loan rates, mortgage insurance premiums, and applicant qualifications are standardized. FHA loan limits do vary by county, yet are based on local housing market trends and tend to remain relatively uniform. The deciding factor in choosing an FHA mortgage lender then falls processing and funding fees, any additional features they may be offering their clients, and whether they have other qualifying criteria aside from the federal requirements.
Types of FHA Loans
There are several types of FHA loans available, from the standard 15 and 30-year fixed interest rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, and reverse mortgages, to an assortment of loan types with different features, intended for a variety of uses. Other government-backed loans being offered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are jumbo loans, hybrid loans, balloon loans, bridge or relocation loans, home rehabilitation or 203(k) loans, and 203(h) loans for disaster victims. These debt instruments are available for all qualifying individuals, even those who are self-employed and lack some of the documentation typically required to get approved for a mortgage.
Minimum FHA Loan Amount
FHA loan amounts vary by county and are dependent on local housing market values as well as the size of the approved home, which can be a single-family or multifamily residence of up to four units.
Maximum FHA Loan Amount
FHA loan limits for single-family units typically range between $294,515 for low-cost areas to $679,650 for high-cost areas. These amounts can go up to $721,050 for pricier cities like Honolulu, Hawaii.
Minimum FICO Score
The minimum FICO credit score to qualify for an FHA loan is 500, yet the borrower would be required to provide a down payment of at least 10%. Those with a credit score of 580 or above would qualify for a low down payment of 3.5%.
Non-Traditional Credit History Considered
Individuals with limited credit history may still qualify for an FHA loan or other types of government-backed loans by developing a nontraditional credit history based on regular, periodic payments such as: rental history, utility payments, cell phone payments, insurance coverages, school tuition, daycare payments, peer-to-peer loan repayments, payroll deductions for savings plans, and savings or checking account statements, among others.
Additional Qualification Requirements
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulates FHA loan requirements. However, banks and private lenders may impose their own qualifying criteria in order to minimize the risk of lending to individuals with lower-than-average credit scores and non-traditional credit histories.
Since FHA loans are government-backed and federally regulated, borrower qualifications tend to be relatively universal regardless of the bank or lending institution. For this reason, one of the main factors borrowers should consider when choosing a mortgage lender is the quality of the services they offer. Although limited in their choices, FHA loan applicants can base their selection criteria on factors such as the speed and ease of the lender's application process, whether they offer online quotes without requiring personally identifying information, the tools and resources available for their clients, the mortgage closing timeframe, and average time to funding.
Much has been said about standard lender requirements for loan applicants, which tend to include a considerable list of demands often beyond the reach of most middle American families. But what criteria should borrowers use when attempting to determine the reputability of a given lender? As a well-informed consumer, you should know there are tools that can help you navigate your way through the complex sphere of the marketplace. Here we have gathered some resources you can consult to help you decide whether a mortgage lender is deserving of your trust and business.
The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit organization offering verified, unbiased information on more than 30 million North American companies and their business practices. Their goal is to set the foundation for marketplace trust by enforcing ethical standards of business behavior and monitoring compliance among their member companies. The BBB is an essential resource for consumers wanting to determine a business' reputability. Although not all companies are registered with the BBB, participating members demonstrate a greater commitment to developing business acumen and enhancing customer satisfaction.
Trust Pilot Rating
Trustpilot is an online review community offering overall customer satisfaction ratings for over 179,000 businesses as well as access to customer-provided feedback on verified orders for their products and services. Just as with the BBB, not all businesses are registered with Trustpilot, yet participating companies—especially those who actively engage with their clients—can be assumed to be more concerned about their customers' experience and satisfaction than those who fail to establish an online presence.
Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System ID
The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) is a storage system for licensing and registration information on financial service providers. Besides managing and organizing data regarding state-based regulations applicable to the finance industry, the system aims to enhance consumer protection by sharing information related to mortgage loan originators (MLOs). Through their NMLS ID numbers, consumers can look up details about their mortgage lenders, including the number of regulatory actions taken against them.
Nationwide Mortgage Regulatory Actions
The NMLS requires MLOs to disclose all disciplinary actions brought against them, which are then publicly displayed on the consumer-access section of their registry. These actions may include civil, disciplinary, and regulatory measures taken against a company or individual by federal or state regulators.
What's important to know about FHA Loans?
- What is an FHA loan?
- Do I qualify for an FHA loan?
- What insurance do I need for an FHA loan?
- Does the government set the FHA loan requirements?
- What are the FHA loan limits?
What is an FHA loan?
An FHA loan is a low-down payment mortgage (3.5% minimum) insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This type of loan is an attractive option for people with less-than-perfect credit and first-time homebuyers. Moreover, people who have declared bankruptcy or have suffered a foreclosure may still qualify for an FHA loan.
Lenders offer different FHA loans that can help you become a homeowner; from fixed rate to rehab, to energy efficient mortgages. However, while it is true that FHA-backed loans have many advantages, they can be a more expensive option when insurance and other costs are added and compared to other types of loans, so it is important to do your research first.
Do I qualify for an FHA loan?
You may qualify for an FHA loan, if you are a legal resident of the U.S., have a valid Social Security number, and a credit score of 580. Additionally, you must have a debt-to-income ratio of 43% or less, be able to make the 3.5% down payment, and buy mortgage insurance. Although there is no minimum income requirement, you need to provide proof of income.
It is also important to keep in mind that you cannot have outstanding debts with federal agencies and that the property you intend to purchase must be your primary residence. In addition to the FHA requirements, some lenders may require the borrower to meet several other conditions to qualify for the loan. Consequently, before you start the FHA loan process, it is a good idea to check with different lenders to find out about their particular requirements. You can then create a checklist to help you gather the documentation you will need before you start the application process.
What insurance do I need for an FHA loan?
Borrowers need two insurance premiums for all FHA loans: the up-front mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and the mortgage insurance premium (MIP). For FHA loans processed after January 26, 2015, the UFMIP required is 1.75% of the loan amount, which the borrower can choose to finance as part of the mortgage. In contrast, the MIP is calculated annually, paid monthly, and varies by mortgage term.
Calculating the UFMIP is straightforward: multiply the property value by 1.75%. For example, for a $100,000 property, the premium is $1,750. The calculation for the MIP, however, is a bit more complex. It involves calculating the annual loan balance, the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) ratio, and the term of the mortgage.
Does the government set the FHA loan requirements?
Yes, the government sets the FHA loan requirements. These requirements are published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are contained in a 1,009-page document, Handbook 4000.1. The requirements listed in the handbook apply to Single Family and Multifamily Mortgages. It is important to note that lenders usually have additional requirements that a borrower must meet to be approved. HUD published the latest version of the Handbook in 2017.
What are the FHA loan limits?
The FHA loan limits refer to the maximum loan amount the agency will insure. The FHA reviews these limits annually, at the end of the calendar year. Currently, the limit for low-cost areas is $294,515 and $679,650 for high-cost areas. You can check the specific loan amount limits per county by visiting the FHA website.
The FHA limits are influenced by conventional loan limits established by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). These amounts vary by county and state, and whether the home is a single or multi-family unit. There are also special exception areas where the limit is much higher due to the high cost of construction. These areas include Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.