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FHA Loans Guide

Buying a home can be a daunting experience, especially when it comes to securing a loan. But with FHA home loans, you can breathe a sigh of relief. 💆‍♀️ These loans are backed by the government, which means the lending requirements are more relaxed compared to traditional loans. And with a low down payment of only 3.5%, homeownership is now within reach. 🏠

At The Mortgage Architects, we specialize in providing FHA loans. So, even if your credit score isn’t perfect, don’t worry! You may still be eligible for a higher loan amount with our relaxed minimum credit score and requirements.

What is an FHA Home Loan?

An FHA loan is a mortgage option backed by the federal government. Even if your credit score isn’t top-notch, you may still qualify for this low-cost option. 💳 Plus, with a down payment as low as 3.5% (or even 0% for qualifying VA applicants), it’s easier to make your dream of homeownership a reality.

The Story of FHA Loans: A Helping Hand during Tough Times

Back in the Great Depression, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was established to give Americans a shot at homeownership. 🏠 At a time when getting a home loan was nearly impossible, the FHA stepped in to make it easier by reducing the minimum down payment requirements and credit score requirements. 💰 Plus, with more attractive mortgage rates, more people were able to afford a home.

Today, the FHA is still going strong and continues to help people become homeowners. It’s amazing to see how far the FHA mortgage itself has come since its creation, and we’re proud to be a part of this rich history.

FHA Loans 101: Making Homeownership Accessible for Everyone

Are you interested in buying a home but feeling overwhelmed by the conventional loan process? Then you might want to consider an FHA loan! 🏠 These loans offer a variety of options to meet the unique needs of different borrowers. Plus, with relaxed requirements and more accessible terms, they make homeownership a possibility for those who may not otherwise qualify for a conventional mortgage.

When it comes to loan duration, you’re in control. You can choose a term that works best for you, with a maximum loan term of 40 years. And when it comes to loan limits and amount, FHA loans have you covered. The maximum loan limit is determined by the property type and local cost of living, with current loan limits, ranging from $420,000 to $1.2 million.

In a Nutshell: Here’s What You Need to Know

  • Brought to you by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) 🏠

  • Low down payments starting at 3.5%

  • Relaxed credit score requirements—a lower minimum score is okay 💳

  • More lenient debt to income requirements—so you can get the financing you need 💰

  • Higher loan amounts available—because bigger is sometimes better 💰

  • May have closing costs that conventional loans don’t require—but don’t worry, we’ll help you navigate it 💰

How to Qualify for an FHA Loan

FHA Loans: Get in Your Home Sooner & Start Building Equity! 🏠

No need to wait for a perfect credit score to buy your dream home. With an FHA loan, you can start building equity sooner! 💰 Here’s what you’ll need t qualify for an FHA loan:

  • A minimum credit score of around 580 or higher

  • Proof of income with 2 years of W2s or 2 years of self-employed tax returns

  • Last 30 days of paystubs or last 3 months of business bank statements (if self-employed)

  • A satisfactory debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

  • Information on current debt including credit cards, alimony, and auto loans

  • A property assessment from an FHA-approved appraiser

So, why wait? Start your journey towards homeownership with an FHA loan!

Real Estate Options with an FHA Loan

  • Buy a single-family home

  • Certain types of manufactured homes

  • Get financing for a 2-4 unit multi-family home as long as one unit is owner-occupied

  • Buy a condo

  • Buy new construction

No matter what type of real estate you’re interested in, an FHA loan can help make your dream a reality for qualified applicants! 

FHA VS Conventional Loans

If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s important to know the difference between FHA mortgages and conventional mortgages. This can help you decide which one to go for and get you into the home buying market sooner.

The key difference between the two is that FHA loans are easier to qualify for as they are backed by the federal government. While these loans were originally designed for low to middle-income borrowers, anyone can apply for one, including those who could qualify for a conventional mortgage.

They can be a great option if you don’t have a perfect credit score, as you may still be eligible with a minimum score of 500. But, to get the best financing and a 3.5% down payment, aim to have a credit score over 580. On the other hand, conventional loans usually require a more minimum down payment and a higher credit score of 620 or higher, and you may have to pay mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20%. With lower credit scores, mortgage insurance becomes prohibitive, and much more costly than FHA mortgage insurance. 

Interest rates on FHA loans are usually lower as they are insured by the government, meaning they carry less risk for the lender, and they require mortgage insurance for the entire lifetime of the loan. For conventional, average interest rates will depend on factors like your credit score, loan-to-value ratio, and debt-to-income ratio.

FHA loans come with mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) that you’ll have to pay, both at closing and in your monthly payment throughout the life of the loan. Conventional loans don’t require FHA mortgage insurance, but you may still have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you make a down payment less than 20%. PMI can be cancelled once you have 20% equity in your home.

The type of property you want to buy can also impact which loan you choose. FHA loans come with restrictions on properties that don’t meet HUD standards, but repairs can be made to get funding for the purchase. For conventional loans, while they have many requirements, they usually don’t require a home inspection, but an appraisal is often needed.

FHA loans can only be used to purchase an owner-occupied primary residence and not investment properties or second homes. Conventional loans have fewer limitations and can be used to buy vacation homes, investment properties, and primary residences.

FHA Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about getting a home loan? If so, you might want to consider an FHA-backed loan. They’re a great option for first-time homebuyers, especially if you have a lower credit score. Here are some pros and cons to help you weigh your loan options out:

Pros of FHA Loans

  • Low down payment requirements, only 3.5%!

  • More lenient on debt ratios, so you can still get a loan even if you have higher debt.

  • A good choice for first-time homebuyers with lower credit scores.

  • More relaxed approval standards, so even if you have some blemishes on your credit history, you could still be approved for an FHA loan.

Cons of FHA Loans

  • You’ll have to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium, which is 1.75% of the loan amount.

  • Sorry, you can’t use an FHA loan to purchase a rental or investment property.

  • Low down payment requirements, only 3.5%!

Credit Score

So, you’re thinking about getting an FHA loan to buy a home? That’s great! Just one thing to keep in mind is your credit score. This little 3-digit number can have a big impact on your loan and the amount you’ll need for a down payment.

Here’s the deal – if you have a credit score of 580 or above, you can put down a mortgage payment as little as 3.5%. But if your score is lower, you may need to come up with a bigger down payment.

Want to make sure your credit score is in good shape? Here are a few low credit scores and tips:

  • Keep your credit card balances low – aim for less than 30% of your total credit limit

  • Make all your payments on time – that includes credit cards, loans, and bills

  • If you’re struggling with your credit score, don’t worry! The Mortgage Architects offers easy credit repair solutions to get you approved for an FHA loan.

Wondering about DTI and Home Loans?

When you’re looking to apply for a mortgage, mortgage lenders will check out your DTI (debt-to-income) ratio. Every lender is different, but usually, if you’re going for a conventional mortgage, your DTI can be as high as 50% (as long as your housing costs don’t exceed 47%). But if you’re going for an FHA loan, your overall DTI can be up to 55% (again, housing costs can’t exceed 47%).

Calculating Your DTI is Easy!

Many home buyers worry about all their debt, like student loans, and think it will stop them from getting a home loan. Don’t let that worry stop you from getting a consultation to see if you qualify for a home loan! A mortgage lender will calculate your DTI to get an accurate picture.

Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps:

  • 1. Add up all your monthly debt payments, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and court-ordered fixed payments like child support.

  • 2. Divide that number by your gross monthly income (all the money you make before taxes and insurance).

  • 3. Multiply the result by 100 and that’s your DTI ratio!

Keep in mind, if you’re self-employed, working part-time, or receiving income from other sources like overtime, bonuses, child support, etc., these may be factored differently. Your Loan Officer and Underwriter will review all of these. And remember, you can use Social Security income as well.

FHA Down Payment

Applying for a home loan can be overwhelming, especially when you factor in all the expenses like the down payment, closing costs, and mortgage insurance premiums. But don’t let that discourage you from reaching your goal of homeownership! There’s help available in the form of down payment assistance programs.


CHFA – offers a variety of loan programs designed to make your down payment more manageable. Plus, they can assist with closing costs and even help you secure a low or no mortgage insurance option.

CHENOA Fund – receive up to 5% down payment assistance specifically tailored for FHA loans. As long as you have a minimum credit score of 600 and meet other criteria, you’re eligible! This program goes above and beyond by offering post-purchase counseling. They really want to make sure you have all the support you need on your homeownership journey.


Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) – An incredible program that can provide you with up to $10,000 in assistance. Here’s the best part: qualifying borrowers can combine their FHA loan with a $6,000 forgivable grant. That means you won’t have to pay it back! It’s like getting an extra boost towards your down payment and making homeownership even more achievable. Say goodbye to the stress of finding funds and hello to the joy of becoming a proud homeowner in Illinois!

    Say goodbye to worries about down payments, and hello to your new home sweet home!

    Gift from Loved Ones

    One option to help you come up with the down payment is by accepting gift money from a family member or friend. If you go this route, just make sure your benefactor provides a letter that includes their contact information, relationship to you, the amount of the gift, and a statement that no repayment is expected.

    Can I Use Personal Loans for My Down Payment?

    Unfortunately, no – FHA loans don’t allow personal loans to be used for the down payment. But there are other options to consider, like down payment assistance programs or gift money from loved ones.

    Using Your FHA Loan

    Required: Home Appraisal

    When it comes to using your FHA loan, there are some requirements you need to know about. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) wants to ensure that your new home meets their loan standards. So, here’s the scoop: a home appraisal is a must.

    Whether you’re purchasing a single-family home, condo, or manufactured home with an FHA loan, there are minimum property requirements that need to be completed before you can get the green light. This appraisal is separate from a typical home inspection and is done to make sure all the HUD requirements are met.

    Now, if you’re applying for a renovation or FHA 203(k) loan, things might get a bit interesting. Your property could go through a two-part appraisal process. The first one is done “as is,” and the second appraisal happens after the improvements have been made. This way, they can calculate the value of the property once the renovations are completed.

    So, remember, while using your FHA home loan, an appraisal is required to ensure everything aligns with the FHA’s guidelines. It’s all about making sure your new home meets the standards for a smooth and successful homeownership journey.

    Required: Professional Inspection

    When the appraiser pays a visit to the property, they’ll be conducting a thorough inspection. Their goal is to calculate the value of the house and ensure that it meets all the requirements set by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

    During this inspection, the appraiser will carefully examine both the exterior and interior of the home. They’ll take note of any issues they come across and document everything with detailed photos. It’s all part of their observation to ensure that the property meets the FHA’s standards.

    Here’s the key takeaway: if, during the inspection, the appraiser finds that the home doesn’t meet the minimum FHA requirements, don’t worry just yet. They might recommend further inspection or request repairs to be done by a professional before moving forward with the transaction. It’s all about making sure the home is in tip-top shape and meets the necessary criteria.

    Remember, this step is crucial to protect your interests as a buyer and ensure you’re investing in a home that meets the FHA’s guidelines. So, get ready for a thorough inspection that will give you peace of mind and confidence in your home-buying journey.

    Inspections and Appraisals: What’s the Difference?

    We understand that having both an appraisal and an inspection might seem like a double dose of evaluations, but trust us, there are important differences between the two.

    When it comes to a home inspection, it’s all about prevention being better than cure. It’s your opportunity to arrange a thorough evaluation of the property’s condition before making that big purchase. The inspection will provide you with the confidence you need to move forward. It covers everything from top to bottom, giving you a clear picture of the property’s overall condition.

    On the other hand, an appraisal focuses on determining the home’s current market value. It’s a comprehensive and comparative estimate that helps your mortgage lender understand the property’s financial worth. It’s an essential step to ensure everyone involved has a clear understanding of the property’s value.

    Here’s an important tip: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or HUD for short, strongly recommends that borrowers acquire a professional home inspection in addition to the necessary FHA appraisal. It’s your responsibility to hire a qualified home inspector who will conduct a detailed examination of the property. Trust us, investing in due diligence will be worth every penny. Not only will it provide you with peace of mind, but it will also boost your confidence when it comes to making that final decision on your dream home.

    So, remember to schedule that home inspection and appraisal separately. It’s all about ensuring you have all the information you need to make an informed decision and enter into homeownership with confidence. Happy house hunting!

    FHA Energy Efficient Loans

    If you’re passionate about saving the planet while also reducing your monthly utility bills, we’ve got some great news for you. An Energy-Efficient Mortgage Loan might just be the perfect fit. These loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and offer a fantastic opportunity for energy-efficient living.

    With an Energy-Efficient loan, you can make a significant impact not only on your carbon footprint but also on your overall expenses. These loans allow you to roll the cost of adding energy-efficient improvements into both new construction and existing real estate. It’s a win-win situation!

    But wait, there’s more. The Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(b) Energy Efficient Mortgage is particularly popular because it allows you to bundle your closing costs and upfront mortgage insurance premium into the total loan amount. This means you won’t have to worry about taking out new credit cards or waiting for a tax refund to finance your green upgrades. It’s a streamlined and convenient option for homebuyers who are eager to embrace eco-friendly living.

    So, if you’re ready to go green and make a positive impact on the environment while enjoying the benefits of lower utility bills, an Energy-Efficient Mortgage Loan is the way to go. Say goodbye to excessive energy consumption and hello to a home that’s both environmentally friendly and financially savvy. Let’s make a difference together!

    Refinancing Your FHA Loan

    If you’re looking to lower your monthly mortgage payment or achieve a new financial goal, refinancing might be the perfect solution for you. And here’s the great news: FHA Streamline Refinancing is specifically designed to help you reduce your monthly interest rates and charges. It’s a fantastic way to save some extra cash.

    The beauty of refinancing is that it typically requires less effort and documentation compared to obtaining a purchase loan. So, the process can be smoother and more straightforward, allowing you to enjoy the benefits without the hassle.

    Here’s a little tip for the future: if you refinance using a conventional loan, you have the opportunity to remove mortgage insurance. This can be a game-changer, as it frees up additional funds and gives you more financial flexibility.

    So, whether you’re looking to lower your monthly expenses or achieve a specific financial goal, refinancing is definitely worth considering. With FHA Streamline Refinancing, you can simplify your mortgage and potentially save a significant amount of money. And remember, in the future, you have the option to refinance using a conventional loan to eliminate mortgage insurance altogether.

    Don’t wait too long! Explore your refinancing options and unlock the potential for greater financial freedom. It’s time to take control of your mortgage and make your money work smarter for you.

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    6825 East Tennessee Avenue # 415, Denver

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      I will forever be grateful with the mortgage architect team. They made buying a home a little less stressful. They are always willing to answer your questions and walk you through any doubts and layout all of you options if you ever find yourself in pickle … More during the process. They work so diligently and efficient for you. Thank you again Nathan and your team for all of your hard work.
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      Nathan and his team were an amazing help. They were communicative, proactive, and very much had my best interest in mind. The process of buying a place is stressful, and they really made the mortgage/loan aspect so much smoother.Nathan put together custom … More videos explaining the mortgage financing for places which I was ready to put an offer on, which was very helpful in understanding all parts of the financing. I have never heard of another person/company doing this, and I believe these breakdowns were tremendously helpful.
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      I’m 75, retired, and wanted to buy a property in Chicago, a multi-flat, where I, along with my son and his wife, could live. I’ve lived in a beautiful, remote corner of Colorado for many, many years, a place I love, but I didn’t want family to be worrying … More about me there by myself. So, how does one go about securing a mortgage when you’re 75 and unemployed (though, not entirely without resources). The best advice I can offer is to talk with Nathan and his team at Mortgage Architects. They are a smart, personable, dedicated team. I found them amazingly easy to work with. They offered valuable guidance up front, quickly responded to all my questions, helped me understand my options, and walked me through what could otherwise have been a frustrating process. I closed on a beautiful, classic Chicago 3-flat yesterday, and we’re about to move. I trusted Nathan and his team completely and am now happily relocating to Chicago where family will be my nearest neighbors. I give Nathan, et al, the highest recommendation possible.
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      Nathan tried to get me a mortgage but due to some of my financial circumstances we were unable to get it. He discussed all options and thoughts they were available. Didn’t mind running through scenarios and things that could help me get a mortgage in … More the future. I will go back to Nathan for further advise and when I believe that I’m stable enough to get a loan. Thank you!
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      We went from thinking we would never own a home to signing the closing documents in just a couple of months. The team helped us every step of the way, and whenever an issue came up, the treated it like an opportunity rather than a reason to say "no". … More Great team, and we're so unbelievably grateful for all their help.

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