Last year, when the Sub Prime market was imploding, there was a lot of talk about how FHA, a Government backed loan, was going to be the new Sub Prime. It hasn’t worked out quite that way. In fact, the real truth is that FHA is the new conventional mortgage.
Sub Prime mortgages were loans for borrowers who couldn’t qualify for the more stringent conventional guidelines. This often meant borrowers who had credit
problems, or it could mean borrowers who couldn’t prove their income. The thing about Sub Prime loans is they were profitable for the lenders (if they got rid of them quickly). These loans were often structured as 2 or 3 year adjustable rate mortgages, and they were priced several points higher than a conventional fixed rate would be. When the market was hot, defaults were low, so these loans were money machines for the lenders who offered them. With money to be made it was almost inevitable that conventional lenders started making more of these types of loans, that is, loans to low credit score borrowers and loans to borrowers who couldn’t prove their income. This went on for a while, but as it had to eventually, the party stopped, loan default rates rose and the whole mortgage market changed. Sub Prime mortgages were the first to disappear, but over the last 9 months conventional guidelines have continued to tighten going from a way too loose approach to where we are now when even good credit risks may have trouble qualifying for a mortgage.
After the market changed, I heard a lot of people say that FHA would take over the slack. But FHA isn’t now and never has been a loan of last resort – which sub prime was. For one thing Chicago FHA Loans are full doc. That means we need to be able to verify the borrowers income and know where the money to close is coming from. FHA will take on borrowers with lower credit scores or borrowers who have had major credit problems in the past, but this isn’t an automatic thing. FHA has no set minimum credit score (though many of the wholesale lenders now do – some will only go as low as 580, others will go below 550) but the idea behind FHA underwriting is to understand the risk involved in a loan. FHA isn’t as concerned with a borrower’s past credit problems as they are about how the borrower will treat credit in the future. This means understanding what happened that caused the problems in the past, and showing that the situation has changed so that these credit problems won’t be a problem going forward. If the bad credit is over 2 years old it probably isn’t even an issue.
Conventional loans have always been the foundation of the illinois home mortgage market. But as conventional guidelines have tightened, borrowers who used to be considered great risks are now frozen out or forced to pay more for their mortgage. FHA helps to fill this gap. Earlier this year FHA upped their lending limits (Temporarily at least, if not extended it will expire by the end of this year) so that you can now buy a home in the Chicago area with a loan as high as $410,000.
What can you now do with an FHA loan that you can’t do with conventional financing? Here are a few advantages of FHA and ways that FHA has become the new conventional alternative here in the Chicago FHA loans : Mortgage Chicago il area:
- No Risk Based Pricing adjustments– Risk Based Financing is the idea that those borrowers with the best credit scores will be able to get the best mortgages rates, and those with lower credit scores will have to pay more. With conventional loans buyers with credit scores under 720 and with down payments under 20% are getting hit on their pricing. With FHA if you qualify for the loan you get the best pricing. You can qualify for an FHA mortgage with credit scores in the upper 500s – without any price hits.
- FHA uses common sense credit guidelines –FHA looks at the buyers over-all history, not just their credit scores.
- You can buy with a low down payment – or no down payment – This is another area where FHA has a big advantage over conventional loans. It is now much harder to get a conventional mortgage with a minimal down payment. But FHA only requires 3% down which can come as a gift from a relative or as a grant from a down payment assistance program. That means that you can still buy a home with no money out of your own pocket.
- FHA allows a seller concession of up to 6% – By using seller concessions, you can structure your purchase in more creative ways including paying all your closing costs.
- FHA is more lenient with past bankruptcies – FHA is MUCH more lenient with past bankruptcies. Conventional loans just changed their guidelines to make financing harder. FHA takes a more common sense approach.
- FHA financing is available for Permanent Resident Aliens – With FHA you don’t need to be a U.S. citizen and you don’t need to have your green card. You will need to have a social security number, established credit and proof that you are able to work in the United Sates.
- No cash reserves are required – All you need with FHA is enough to pay the down payment and closing costs. No reserves necessary.
- No income limits – Many of the low and no down payment conventional loans are set up to help low and moderate income home buyers. This isn’t the case with FHA.
- Non traditional credit is accepted – Most conventional loans require that you have a credit score and an established credit history. But not every one uses credit. With FHA we can build up a credit history from other payments you have mad. This would include your rent and utility payments, and any other non-traditional credit you have used.
- Mortgage insurance is lower than conventional – FHA splits their mortgage insurance into 2 parts – an up-front insurance which is added to the loan amount, and a premium which is paid monthly. If you are buying with a minimum down payment, the combined premium on FHA is better than it is with conventional loan programs – especially if your credit scores aren’t the highest.
- You can buy a 2-4 unit building with only 3% down – Conventional financing isn’t even close here, and rental income is looked at in a way that makes it much easier to qualify. With a 2-4 unit you will need 3 months of reserves, though.
- FHA refinancing – FHA has a streamlined refinance that makes refinancing easier and less expensive, and a cash out refinance program that goes up to 95% of your home’s value, giving you more flexibility in your debt management.
In short, more people will qualify at a lower price with FHA financing. Put it all together and there is no doubt, FHA is the new conventional.