During much of America’s history only the wealthy could afford home ownership. It was always referred to as the “American dream”. Today it has more transitioned from a dream or fantasy to an expectation. Home ownership is viewed by many as a given part of American life. What caused this evolution? It mainly was the availability of first time home buyer loans made possible by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
Prior to FHA loans lending standards were strict for all mortgages. For a brief window recently, many lenders greatly relaxed these underwriting standards. The result is seen in today’s headlines discussing waves of defaults and foreclosures. This has caused lending standards to quickly tighten again going back to what they used to be.
Lending standards relate to several aspects in which the borrower is reviewed. The first of these is a requisite minimum credit score. Unfortunately, many new buyers are too young to have established extensive credit. This served to keep this segment of would be buyers out of the home ownership universe.
FHA loans sought to address this by providing for a secondary market for loans without the required credit history. This opens the door to owning a home to many young families who otherwise would have had to wait years while developing sufficient credit history. Mortgages also traditionally required a 20% down payment.
Even for a modest $125,000 home this equates to $25,000. Many first time buyers did not have this amount saved yet. Requiring a full 20% down payment further delaying many first time purchases. FHA loans also address this problem. With an FHA backed loan the borrower does not have to come up with the full twenty percent at closing.
FHA loans only require 3% down payments. That $125,000 home can now be purchased with a down payment of $3750 putting it well within the reach of most anyone who desires it. Also reduced are closing costs and points. These are fees typically charged to the borrower and payable in full at closing. These fees each tend to be small but can add up quickly.
FHA loans allow for these fees to be cut in half. Furthermore, the portion still owed by the borrower can be paid over the life of the mortgage, most usually 30 years. This often translates to another few dollars a month on top of the normal payment. This again removes a former obstacle to first time buyers.
First time home buyer loans backed by the FHA are a wonderful creation for those just starting out and desiring to own their home. There are more details and requirements to be eligible for an FHA backed loan. Do the research to find out if you can benefit from this great program.