How to Qualify for an FHA Loan

Jul 24, 2023 | Mortgage Guides

Your Guide to Success: How to Qualify for an FHA Loan

FHA loans are fantastic for many borrowers but have particular eligibility requirements. This article will discuss the stipulations for qualifying for an FHA loan and some tips to better your chances of getting approved.

FHA Loan Basics 

Definition and purpose of FHA loans 

An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These loans are designed to make homeownership more affordable for low- and moderate-income borrowers. They offer down payments as low as 3.5% and have more flexible credit requirements. FHA loans are available to first-time and seasoned homebuyers alike.

FHA loans are designed to help borrowers qualify for a mortgage, even with low incomes or credit scores. They also have more flexible underwriting guidelines, making them a great option for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.

Key features and benefits of FHA loans

FHA loans are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Some key features and benefits include:

  • Lower down payment: FHA loans allow down payments as low as 3.5%.
  • More lenient credit score requirements.
  • No prepayment penalties.
  • Flexible underwriting guidelines.

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FHA Loan Eligibility Requirements 

To qualify for an FHA loan, you must meet the following:

  • Have a credit score of at least 500
  • Have a down payment of at least 3.5%
  • Be able to afford the mortgage payments
  • Have no outstanding debts in collection
  • No foreclosures or bankruptcies in the past seven years

Debt-to-income ratio 

Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) measures a person’s financial health. It is calculated by dividing a person’s debt payments by their gross income. A DTI of 36% or less is acceptable, while 43% or more is considered high. A high DTI can make it challenging to qualify for a loan and lead to lofty interest rates on loans.

A few habits can lower your DTI. One is to pay down the debt. Another is to increase your income. You can also negotiate lower interest rates on your loans.

If you are concerned about your DTI, talk to a financial advisor. They can help you to develop a plan to improve your financial health.

Property standards

The property standards for FHA loans are as follows:

  • A single-family home, townhouse, condominium, or two-to-four-unit apartment building.
  • It must be habitable and meet all local building codes.
  • It has a heating system, plumbing, and electrical systems that are in working order.
  • It has a well-maintained roof that does not leak.
  • A foundation that is strong and has no cracks or leaks.
  • It must have solid walls and ceilings with no mold or mildew.
  • Must have solid floors with no cracks or openings.
  • It has windows in good condition and does not leak.
  • All doors are sturdy and do not stick or warp.
  • Must have a yard that is in good condition with no hazardous materials.

Steps to Qualify for an FHA Loan 


Research and preparation 

  1. Get your credit score in order. You’ll need a credit score of at least 500 to qualify for an FHA loan. 
  2. Save money for a down payment. You must pay at least 3.5% of the home’s purchase price. 
  3. Get pre-approved. This will give you an idea of how much you can afford to borrow. 
  4. Find a home. FHA loans have stricter requirements, so make sure the home you want meets all the stipulations. 
  5. Apply for the loan. You can apply once you’ve found a home and got pre-approved. 
  6. Close on loan. Once your loan is approved, you can close on the loan and move into your new home!

Here are some additional tips:

  • Get familiar with the FHA loan program. There are many rules and regulations, so examine them before you apply.
  • Shop around for a lender. Many lenders offer FHA loans, so compare rates and terms.
  • Provide documentation. You must provide records, such as your income, assets, and debts. Collect all this information before you apply.
  • Be patient. Home-buying can be extensive and complicated, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find the appropriate home and get approved.

Gather necessary documentation 

  • Proof of income
  • Proof of assets
  • W-2 forms
  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank statements
  • Recent utility bills
  • Proof of insurance
  • Property Appraisal
  • Seller’s disclosure statement
  • Mortgage application
  • Escrow analysis
  • Title insurance
  • Homeowners association documents
  • Pest inspection
  • Lead-based paint disclosure
  • Flood certification
  • Property condition disclosure

Please note this is not an exhaustive list, and the specific documentation required may vary depending on the financier.

Find an FHA-approved lender 

  • Make sure the lender is licensed and insured.
  • Ask about the lender’s experience with FHA loans.
  • Be sure to understand the terms and conditions before signing anything.

Complete the loan application process 

To complete the process for an FHA loan application, you need to provide the following:

  • Name, address, and contact information
  • Social Security number
  • Your income and employment information
  • Your assets and debts
  • Information about the property you want to purchase

You must also provide documentation to support these details, such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, bank statements, and tax returns. Afterward, you can submit your application to an FHA-approved lender. If approved, you must close on the loan. This involves signing more paperwork and paying closing costs. After the loan is closed, you can move into your new home.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Provide all of the requested information.
  • Make sure your documents are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Be patient, as the application process can take several weeks.
  • Work with a qualified mortgage lender to ensure the best results.

Underwriting and loan approval

Underwriting is the process of evaluating a loan application. For an FHA loan, the underwriter will consider the borrower’s credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and down payment. The underwriter will also review the property to ensure it meets requirements.

If the loan is approved, the borrower must close. This involves signing assorted documents and providing additional records, such as proof of insurance and property taxes. Once the loan is closed, the borrower will receive the funds and can purchase the property.

Below are other factors an underwriter considers:

  1. Credit score: The borrower’s credit score is a vital factor. A credit score of 580 or higher is required.
  2. Debt-to-income ratio: The borrower’s debt-to-income ratio is the debt they owe divided by their income. An FHA loan often requires a 36% or lower ratio.
  3. Down payment: The borrower must make a down payment of at least 3.5% for an FHA loan.
  4. Property: The property must meet FHA requirements.
How to Qualify for an FHA Loan | Wesley Mortgage

Tips for a Smooth FHA Loan Qualification Process 


Avoid common pitfalls

  • Not understanding the stipulations. FHA loans have stricter standards than conventional loans, so ensure you meet them before applying.
  • Not having enough money saved for a down payment. FHA loans require a down payment of 3.5%, but you might get assistance if you qualify.
  • Not getting pre-approved for a loan. Get pre-approved for a loan before you start shopping for a home.
  • Overlooking closing costs. Closing costs can be expensive, so factor them into your budget.
  • Not understanding the terms of the loan. Scrutinize the agreement and understand all the terms before signing it.
  • Not being able to afford the payments. FHA loans have higher costs than conventional loans, so make sure you can afford them.

Planning for future homeownership responsibilities

  • Get your finances on track. This includes saving for a down payment, paying off debt, and perfecting your credit score.
  • Research mortgages and interest rates.
  • Find a reputable real estate agent to help you find a suitable property.
  • Hire a home inspector to ensure no significant problems with the property before you buy it.
  • Get homeowners insurance.
  • Be prepared for unforeseen costs, such as repairs and maintenance.

Common Questions About FHA Loans


How much can I borrow with an FHA loan? 

The maximum varies by location and is subject to change. Lenders also consider your income, creditworthiness, and other factors when determining the loan amount.

Can I use an FHA loan to buy any property?

FHA loans are intended for owner-occupied properties, which means you must live in the property as your primary residence. They are not available for investment properties or second homes.

Can I refinance with an FHA loan?

Yes, FHA offers several refinancing options, such as the FHA Streamline Refinance and the FHA Cash-Out Refinance, which allow borrowers to refinance their existing FHA loans.

Can I use an FHA loan for home renovations?

Yes, the FHA 203(k) loan program allows borrowers to finance both the purchase of a home and the cost of qualified renovations into a single loan.

Can I get rid of FHA mortgage insurance?

If you put down less than 10% on the home, you will pay mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan. If you put down 10% or more, you can request to have the mortgage insurance removed after 11 years.


Qualifying for an FHA loan can be a great way to buy a home if you have less-than-perfect credit or a small down payment. Talk to a loan officer at Wesley Mortgage today to determine your eligibility. Our mortgage professionals will help you understand the process and ensure you have all the necessary documentation.

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