Many prospective homeowners and mortgage professionals have heard that the regulations for FHA loans are changing. After the sub-prime mortgage industry died down, the FHA home loan program became the scapegoat for any and all problems associated with the housing market. Critics believe that the FHA loan program is too lenient on its credit requirements. Because of this constant scrutiny and other outside criticisms, the FHA has decided to make some significant changes to its qualifying requirements for its home loan program.
In past years, the FHA home loan program did not require a specific credit score in order to qualify for their loans. Although most lenders required at least a 620, many critics of the FHA's program believe that the lack of a credit score requirement has led to the large number of defaults after the housing market crash. In order to prevent this from happening in the future, the FHA's new rules state that a borrower must have at least a 580 credit score in order to take advantage of their 3.5% down payment program. If an applicant has a credit score below 580, they must put at least 10% down on a new home.
A protection that has always existed on FHA loans is the required mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance provides benefits for both the homeowner and the lender. This type of insurance helps the lender because it ensures that they will be paid in case of borrower default. Because the lender knows that the loan is insured by the federal government, they are more likely to offer favorable terms to the borrower.
A new change to the FHA's mortgage insurance raises the up front premium by half a percent from 1.75% to 2.25% of the loan amount. This effort is a way to ensure the sustainability of the FHA loan program. The FHA is currently trying to obtain Congressional approval to increase the annual premium. If this approval is granted, the FHA would reduce the amount by which they increased the up front premium. Some FHA officials have discussed making the premiums risk based, which would mean that the premiums would vary depending on credit score and history.
The last protection which the Federal Housing Administration has decided to implement with these changes is a reduction in allowable seller concessions. When these new regulations go into effect, the seller will only be able to provide 3%, whereas before, the seller could provide up to 6% of the purchase price. These regulations are all set to take effect in April, 2010 and are an effort to increase the quality of FHA loans.
Only time will tell if these regulations will have the desired effect and increase the quality of the FHA home loans issued. Many homeowners are in agreement with the changes because they want the housing market to bounce back quickly and believe that the best way for this change to occur is to require more of prospective homebuyers. Other homeowners believe that, while encouraging people to improve their credit is beneficial, restricting home loan applicants does more to hinder the housing market rather than stimulate it. Hopefully, these new changes will have a positive effect and help the housing market grow and prosper.