Oakland County MI First-time Home Buyers: FHA Loans 101

Oakland County MI First-time Home Buyers: FHA Loans 101

 Oakland County MI First-time Home Buyers: FHA Loans 101

While most people consider homeownership the American dream, many are not able to qualify for a conventional loan, which is a type of mortgage loan that’s not insured or guaranteed by the government. Unlike conventional loans, FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration and help to take some of the risk from lenders and place it on the government for higher-risk borrowers. Although the government insures the loans, they are actually offered by FHA-approved mortgage lenders.

The FHA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), offers a wide range of loans to help different groups of people. FHA loans are helpful for Oakland County MI home buyers with limited savings and/or lower credit scores as they allow for down payments as low as 3.5% and a 580 FICO.  These types of loans are not only for first-time home buyers. Repeat buyers can get an FHA loan as long as they use it to buy a primary residence. FHA loans can also be used to refinance your home or for repairs on an older home.  

How FHA Loans Work

The Federal Housing Administration’s flexible underwriting standards allow borrowers who may not have stellar credit, high incomes, and/or cash savings the opportunity to become homeowners. With an FHA loan, borrowers must pay mortgage insurance, which protects the lender from a loss if the borrower defaults on the loan. The cost of insuring your loan is generally higher than with conventional mortgages, and you can expect to pay higher mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs) each month. Government-guaranteed mortgages are not available on high-priced homes, and you can see the cap in your area using the online tool on HUD’s website.

The differences between an FHA loan and a conventional loan 

When buying a home in Oakland County MI, It’s easier to qualify for an FHA loan than for a conventional loan, which is not insured or guaranteed by the federal government. FHA loans require mortgage insurance regardless of the down payment amount, compared to conventional loans where you need mortgage insurance for down payments under 20%. FHA mortgage insurance payments will be the same regardless of your credit score.

FHA loans

  • More rigid property standards
  • Lower credit scores allowed 
  • Somewhat higher down payment needed
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is required for down payments of less than 20%

Conventional loans

  • Higher credit score needed (at least 620)
  • Slightly smaller down payments allowed
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is required for down payments of less than 20%
  • More liberal property standards

One of the biggest advantages of an FHA loan is that only a 3.5% down payment is required for a home loan purchase (with a minimum 580 credit score). This is a lot less than other conventional types, which will ask anywhere from 5 to 20%. It’s worth noting that If you were to combine the FHA loan with a down payment assistance program, it could potentially mean that you would only need to put 0.5% down.

With an FHA loan, the down payment doesn’t have to come directly from the borrower; It can come from a family member, employer, or charitable organization as a gift. Also, if you prepay your mortgage before a certain amount of time, many conventional lenders will charge a prepayment penalty. With an FHA loan, there is no penalty for prepayment.

FHA loan limits for Oakland County MI in 2021

No matter which type of FHA loan you’re seeking, there will be limits on the mortgage amount. These limits vary by county. Limits for FHA Loans in Oakland County, Michigan range from $356,362 for a 1 living-unit home to $685,400 for 4 living-units.   

The different types of FHA loans

Loan qualification guidelines are fairly similar across the various types of FHA loans available:

  • Fixed-rate loans – Available in fixed-rate terms between 15 and 30 years, FHA mortgages come with a low down payment advantage- one of the lowest on the market.
  • Adjustable-rate loans – An FHA adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) comes with an interest rate that “adjusts” over the loan’s term; generally increasing. Many people are drawn to ARM mortgages because they offer initial rates significantly lower than a fixed-rate product.
  • FHA 245(a) loan – An FHA 245(a) loan packs a fixed rate graduated-payment mortgage, also known as a “growing equity mortgage.” Graduated payment mortgages structure your monthly payment to scheduled increases over the life of your loan. As your loan amortizes, you’ll reach a point in time when your equity starts gaining traction. These mortgages are set up in 30-year terms, but it’s not uncommon to pay off the loan early depending on which graduated plan you choose.
  • FHA energy efficient mortgage – The FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program is a financing add-on that allows FHA borrowers to roll the cost of approved energy efficiency upgrades into their home loan. Homebuyers commonly use this program to update their home’s windows, HVAC systems, and insulation.
  • FHA loans for mobile homes – It is possible to use an FHA loan to finance a manufactured or mobile home, but finding a lender willing to approve financing may take a few tries.  
  • FHA loans for condos – Many are surprised to find that they can purchase a condo using the FHA loan. Since some condo associations enforce rules regarding property sales and improvements, however, there are some restrictions when it comes to using your FHA loan for a condo.
  • FHA 203(k) – Compared to other types of FHA products, 203(k) loans offer the opportunity for buyers to purchase fixer-uppers while financing additional funds for home repairs and renovations into the mortgage.
  • FHA reverse mortgage (HECM) – FHA Reverse mortgages are used as a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). This allows a qualified homeowner to receive monthly cash disbursements by liquidating the equity they’ve built up in their home.

How to qualify for an FHA loan

Getting prequalified for an HOA loan is a simple and quick process, and can even be done over the phone. Your loan officer will require information about your basic finances, such as debt, income, and assets.  After running these numbers and evaluating them, he/she can tell you an amount you may qualify to borrow. To be eligible for an FHA loan, borrowers must meet the following lending criteria:

  • A FICO score of 500 to 579 with 10 percent down or a FICO score of 580 or higher with 3.5 percent down.
  • Verifiable employment history for the last two years.
  • Income is verifiable through pay stubs, federal tax returns, and bank statements.
  • The loan is used for a primary residence.
  • The property is appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser and meets HUD property guidelines.
  • Your front-end debt ratio (monthly mortgage payments) should not exceed 31% of your gross monthly income.
  • Your back-end debt ratio (mortgage, plus all monthly debt payments) should not exceed 43% of your gross monthly income. (Lenders may allow a ratio of up to 50% in some cases).
  • If you’ve had a bankruptcy, you will need to wait 12 months to two years to apply, or three years after a foreclosure. (Lenders may make exceptions on waiting periods for borrowers with extenuating circumstances).

Your credit score

The minimum credit score for an FHA loan is 500. If your score falls between 500 and 579, you can still qualify for an FHA loan, but you’ll need to make a larger down payment. Again, these are FHA guidelines — individual lenders can opt to require a higher minimum credit score.

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

The FHA requires a DTI of less than 50, meaning that your total monthly debt payments can’t be more than 50% of your pretax income. This includes debts that you aren’t actively paying off.

FHA closing costs

FHA closing costs include the mortgage insurance (MIP), lender and third-party fees, and prepaid items that are due when signing your mortgage paperwork. Here’s the breakdown:

  • FHA mortgage insurance premium (MIP) totals 1.75% of your loan amount, due at closing. You can also finance this charge as a part of your loan. You’ll also find that an additional ongoing FHA MIP of 0.45% to 1.05% is built into your monthly payment. While the rate remains the same for the life of the loan, the premium is adjusted annually based on the remaining principal loan balance.
  • Lender fees typically include an origination fee, underwriting fee, document preparation fee, supplemental loan origination fee (for FHA 203(k) renovation loans only), and interest rate lock fee.
  • You may also decide to buy discount points (a prepaid interest that lowers your loan’s interest rate), which will be listed as a lender fee.
  • Third-party fees include fees for services offered by other providers and could include Title insurance policy premium (for the lender and an option for the buyer to purchase as well), notary fee, credit report fee, Recording fees, appraisal fee, courier fee, attorney fees, and flood certification fee.
  • Prepaid items are fees that are paid in advance, with some shared between buyer and sellers such as tax and insurance escrow deposit, flood and hazard insurance premiums, real estate taxes, and per diem interest.

In summary 

Whether an FHA loan vs a conventional loan is the better choice, when buying a home in Oakland County MI, really depends on the situation as each borrower, financial situation, and home are different. Likewise, each loan has its benefits. An FHA loan is more flexible to obtain, but no matter how large your down payment, you will have to pay mortgage insurance. Whereas, a conventional loan requires a higher credit score and more money down, but doesn’t have as many provisions. You’ll want to speak with your mortgage professional to discuss which loan makes more sense for your individual financial situation and needs.

Partner with award-winning Oakland County MI REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam   

Tom Gilliam is proud to be a trusted REALTOR® in Oakland MI for the past 20 years – offering his guidance and expertise to both home buyers and sellers. Tom understands that buying or selling a home is a significant financial and life decision and that you are looking for someone you can trust. As your agent, he will protect your interests, advocate for you, negotiate on your behalf, and guide you towards a smooth and successful transaction.   

Whether you are ready to buy a home in Oakland County MI or its time to list your your current property, feel free to reach out to Tom directly at (248) 790-5594 or you can get in touch with him by email.

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
Email: Tom @ Homes2MoveYou.com
License #314578 



Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI? The Benefits of An FHA Loan 

Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI? The Benefits of An FHA Loan 

Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI? The Benefits of an FHA Loan:  Are you currently in the market to buy a home in Farmington Hills MI and thinking about your options for a mortgage? An FHA loan is a mortgage that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA loans are popular with first-time, lower-income, and/or lower-credit home buyers due to their flexibility and low rates.  

The FHA insures these loans on single-family and multi-family homes in the U.S. and is the largest insurer of residential mortgages in the world. They are a good option for buyers who may not have saved enough for a large down payment although no FHA loan options for a “zero money down” loan are available.  

HUD 4000.1 states that FHA loan applicants cannot use “unapproved sources” for the down payment. Those unapproved sources include credit card cash advances, payday loans, or any other “non-collateralized loan” to make the down payment. Your financial institution is required to verify the sources of all down payment funds including cash saved at home, savings accounts, family member contributions, etc.

Even borrowers who have suffered from bankruptcy or foreclosures may qualify for an FHA-backed mortgage. A borrower can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment for as little as 3.5% with a minimum FICO score of 580. With a  credit score of 500 – 579, a borrower would be required to make a 10% down payment.

FHA borrowers are also required to pay two FHA mortgage insurance premiums — upfront at closing, and annually for as long as you repay your FHA loan, in most cases.

Down payment and credit score amounts are just two of the requirements needed to qualify for an FHA loan. Other FHA loan requirements set forth by the Federal Housing Authority include:

  • Borrowers must have a steady employment history or work for the same employer for the past two years.
  • Borrowers must have a valid Social Security number, lawful residency in the U.S., and be of legal age to sign a mortgage in your state.
  • Borrowers must pay a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. The money can be gifted by a family member.
  • New FHA loans are only available for primary residence occupancy.
  • Borrowers must have a property appraisal from an FHA-approved appraiser.
  • Borrowers’ front-end ratio (mortgage payment plus HOA fees, property taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance) needs to be less than 31 percent of their gross income.
  • Borrowers’ back-end ratio (mortgage plus all your monthly debt, i.e., credit card payment, car payment, student loans, etc.) needs to be less than 43 percent of their gross income.
  • Borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 580 for maximum financing with a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent.
  • Borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 500-579 for maximum LTV of 90 percent with a minimum down payment of 10 percent. FHA-qualified lenders will use a case-by-case basis to determine an applicants’ creditworthiness.
  • Typically, borrowers must be two years out of bankruptcy and have re-established good credit. Exceptions can be made if you are out of bankruptcy for more than one year if there were extenuating circumstances beyond your control that caused the bankruptcy and you’ve managed your money in a responsible manner.
  • Typically, borrowers must be three years out of foreclosure and have re-established good credit. Exceptions can be made if there were extenuating circumstances and you’ve improved your credit. If you were unable to sell your home because you had to move to a new area, this does not qualify as an exception to the three-year foreclosure guideline.
  • The property must pass an FHA inspection and appraisal. The overall structure of the property must be in good enough condition to keep its occupants safe and must be worth the purchase price. Severe structural damage, leakage, dampness, decay, or termite damage can cause a failed inspection. In such a case, repairs must be made in order for the FHA loan to move forward.  

FHA Annual Lending Limits

The FHA sets annual lending limits for home loan amounts that it will insure. These limits are determined based on the county in which you live and the type of property you’re purchasing.  These loan limits are calculated and updated annually and are influenced by the conventional loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Low-cost areas of the country have a lower limit, known as the “floor,” and high-cost areas have a higher figure, called the “ceiling”. It’s not uncommon for the ceiling loan limit to be more than double the floor for single-family properties. The limits also vary based on the type of property. 

For 2020, the FHA floor was set at $331,760 for single-family home loans. This minimum lending amount covers 80% of all U.S. counties. The FHA ceiling represents the maximum loan amount and is illustrated in the table below:

FHA Limits (low-cost areas)
Single Duplex Tri-plex Four-plex
$331,760 $424,800 $513,450 $638,100

Also for 2020, the FHA ceiling was set at $765,600 for single-family home loans. This represents the highest amount that a borrower can get through the FHA loan program. It applies to high-cost areas in the United States and is illustrated in the table below.

FHA Limits (high-cost areas)
Single Duplex Tri-plex Four-plex
$765,600 $980,325 $1,184,925 $1,472,550

The Takeaway

Borrowers who cannot afford a 20 percent down payment, have a lower credit score, or can’t get approved for private mortgage insurance should look into whether an FHA loan is the best option for their individual scenario. Another advantage of FHA loans is that they are assumable, meaning that if you want to sell your home in the near future, the buyer can “assume” the loan you have.

Partner with Top-rated Farmington Hills MI REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam

2020 Best of Farmington Hills REALTOR - Tom GilliamA top-rated Farmington Hills and Oakland County MI real estate agent like Tom Gilliam can show you more properties and save you thousands of dollars when buying a home. You need an agent who knows the area, processes a vast network of local connections, and has the skills to negotiate like a pro.

From first-time homebuyers to multi-million dollar investors, Tom continually strives to provide top quality service for his clients. With access to the most up-to-date MLS listings for Farmington Hills MI homes for sale and surrounding Oakland County MI real estate, Tom is able to match his clients’ lifestyle needs with the perfect home.

If you are ready to list your current property, Tom has the experience and skills necessary to handle the marketing and sale of your home. Tom employs the latest technology to deliver massive exposure to your home that will drive mega-response from qualified buyers.

 Search the MLS for  Farmington Hills MI Homes for Sale

Search the MLS for Oakland County MI Homes for Sale

With over 25 years of local real estate experience, Tom will protect your interests and work extremely hard for you to ensure the best possible outcome. If you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling real estate in Farmington Hills MI or the surrounding Oakland County area, please give top-rated Farmington Hills MI REALTOR® Tom Gilliam a call today at 248-790-5594 or you can get in touch here.

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
Email: Tom @ Homes2MoveYou.com
License #314578

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