FHA Homebuyers: Real Life Success Stories Show You The Way

December 21, 2016 - 4 min read

FHA Homebuyers Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Renters who lack perfect credit and have not been able to save a big downpayment may still become FHA homebuyers. The FHA 203(b) home loan has been around since 1934, according to the Federal Housing Administration.

For those who are tired of renting and want to put down roots, the FHA home loan might be their best shot.

Here are three stories of people who badly wanted to buy, and who fulfilled that desire with an FHA mortgage.

Newlywed FHA Homebuyers Beat Cash Offers 

A young couple wanted to buy their first house, but they were working with a pretty tight cash budget. They had about $3,000 for a downpayment for a property near the Columbus, Ohio, area.

“We had, after all, just paid for a wedding,” Ruth Awad explained. “We narrowed our focus to homes in Clintonville, even though the market around here was hot and most of the houses were at the tippy-top of our price range.”

The couple kept putting in bids and getting passed over for cash offers.

“Our Realtor told us that given the market, our might make us less competitive buyers, and he was right,” said Awad.

But they stuck with it.

“We bought our house on Sept. 28, 2015. I remember the date because we closed two days after our wedding,” she declared.

The two-story, three-bedroom house was built in 1920. It has the original hardwood floors and still needs updates such as the kitchen. The couple pays $121 a month for the FHA mortgage insurance that allowed them to buy with such a small downpayment.

“But we are so happy for the fenced-in backyard for our dogs,” Ruth said contentedly.

Grandmother Gets Updated Condo With FHA Loan

Realtor Michael Kelczewski was showing town homes on a Sunday afternoon in a new development in Newark, Dela. His clientele in that location is usually first-time homebuyers and young professionals.

But this family was touring properties in the area with their grandmother, who was searching for a home to buy. She was originally from the area, but had never owned her own house.

“She does not fit the typical first-time homebuyer age demographic. But she was widowed, currently renting, but seeking homeownership,” he says.

“She also was not entirely financially strong, so to speak, with her credit and not much downpayment.”

Given the woman’s limitations, FHA mortgages were only available products for her attempt at homeownership.

Program Overcomes Limits For FHA Homebuyers

Kelczewski, a Realtor for the Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International in Centreville, Delaware, said his client bought the property home for $175,000. It had an open layout with updated features, which were important to her.

“The FHA loan/state grant provided her a low downpayment and settlement assistance, where alternate loan products had failed,” he says.

He adds that roughly 60 percent of his Millennial clients choose FHA loan products, because they usually are first-time homebuyers with high debt loads and perhaps limited credit histories,

Declares Kelczewski, who is also a Millennial, “FHA loans are one tangible option leading towards home ownership.”

FHA Loan Helps With A Past Foreclosure

There is a misconception that FHA loans are only for first-time homebuyers, says Jeremy Schachter, mortgage advisor/branch manager at Pinnacle Capital Mortgage in Phoenix.

“But I had a client last month close on a FHA loan, and he had a foreclosure from the downturn in the Arizona market like many people,” Schachter says.

FHA guidelines are more forgiving of serious derogatory events like foreclosure, allowing much shorter waiting periods and lower downpayments — three years in the case of a foreclosure, with 3.5 percent down.

Conforming lenders like Fannie Mae require a four-year waiting period for foreclosures included in bankruptcies.

This drops to a three-year waiting period if the foreclosure was due to extenuating circumstances (things beyond the borrower’s control and not his or her fault), and increases to seven years when foreclosures occur for other reasons.

Conforming lenders also often require larger downpayments post-foreclosure — at least ten percent for Fannie Mae.

“Surprisingly, the client had really good credit after the foreclosure because that was his only derogatory on his credit report. He decided to put the minimum 3.5 percent down, and his payment was actually lower than his current rent,” Schachter says.

The downpayment came from a gift from his father, which is allowed in an FHA loan, Schachter says.

The client’s loan amount was just shy of the FHA loan limit in that area of Arizona. He ended up buying a single family historic home in downtown Phoenix.

“In 2017, the loan limits are changing across the board, depending on which county you live in. In Maricopa County, the FHA loan limit is going from $271,050 to $275,665,” he says.

FHA Homebuyers Are Not Sub-Prime

FHA homebuyers are not people with truly bad credit — they’re just borrowers who don’t check all the boxes for a conventional (non-government) lender — high credit score, big downpayment, lots of money in the bank and a well-paying job.

How many of us fit that profile?

If you’re less-than-perfect, but want to become a homeowner, FHA home loans may be the best step you can take.

What Are Today’s Mortgage Rates?

Today’s FHA mortgage rates are generally a little lower than those of conventional (non-government) loans, but you also have to add in mortgage insurance. FHA mortgage insurance can be more expensive than private mortgage insurance (PMI). Check with a lender to see which program is right for you.

Lee Nelson
Authored By: Lee Nelson

The Mortgage Reports contributor

Lee Nelson is a Chicago-based writer whose work has appeared on Realtor.org, Yahoo! Homes, MyMortgageInsider.com, and more.