The Pros and Cons of an FHA Loan

Jun 30, 2023 | Mortgage Guides

An FHA loan is a home loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. They are for low-to-moderate incomes and help new homebuyers purchase a property at an affordable rate. This article will focus on an FHA loan’s many pros and potential downsides.

This pros and cons list will cover an FHA loan’s situational benefits and drawbacks. Remembering that an FHA mortgage is not for everyone is essential, and it is best to consult a financial advisor before choosing a loan type.

Definition of an FHA Loan

An FHA loan is a mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These loans allow the government to offer viable housing solutions to lower-income households. FHA loans provide financing options for those with lower funds or bad credit.

Ready to get started?

Benefits of an FHA Loan

FHA loans have four significant benefits for low-income homebuyers. These benefits include lower credit score requirements, lower down payments, a more lenient debt-to-income ratio threshold, and government insurance.

#1: Lower Credit Score Requirements

Because they are government-insured, an FHA loan takes on less risk. This, coupled with the purpose of supporting low-income first-time homebuyers, these loans are more flexible regarding eligibility. The most beneficial component of this is lower credit score requirements. This means homeowners who cannot access a conventional mortgage because of their credit report might still be issued a mortgage through the FHA.

#2: Lower Down Payment Requirements

Another significant benefit is that FHA loans have lower down payment requirements. While conventional loans require over 20%, an FHA loan may be as little as 3.5% of the total loan. This means first-time home buyers with less cash may still qualify to purchase their dream house.

#3: More Lenient Debt-to-Income Ratio Requirements

DTI (debt-to-income) ratio requirements often stop otherwise qualified borrowers. DTI refers to how much of a household’s income is put into debt. The higher the debt, the higher the DTI. However, it varies from lender to lender.

#4: Government-Backed Insurance

Government-backed insurance is why lenders offer FHA loans with such flexible requirements. If the borrower defaults on their payment, the FHA pays it. In other words, lenders do not need collateral. Hence, the lender can lower down payment and credit score requirements because they are not at significant risk.‍

Drawbacks of an FHA Loan

The five major cons of an FHA loan are mortgage insurance premiums, limits on the loan amount, property requirements, fees, and refinancing restrictions. Most of these ensure that FHA loans benefit the intended group.

#1: Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs) are a fee the homebuyer pays to secure the loan. These are similar to PMI (private mortgage insurance). This is part of the cost of taking on a loan with lower qualifications.

#2: Limits on Loan Amounts

FHA limits vary depending on the state. They are also lower than conventional loans, meaning higher-end properties will not be available. This limit mitigates the risk.  While it may be restrictive, the lower limit is seldom a problem because those taking FHA loans cannot afford an expensive property.

#3: Property Requirements

The FHA has requirements for a home. These terms mitigate risk. The property must meet the minimum property standards (MPS). These guidelines cover issues like structural integrity, safe electrical systems, and other demands to ensure the safety of the property. The FHA will send an appraiser to confirm the property meets these standards and is free from significant safety hazards.

#4: Additional Fees and Costs

As with conventional loans, several expenses are associated with an FHA loan. These include MIPs, appraisement fees, credit reports, and title examinations. Although FHA loans have fewer fees, it is still essential to consult your lender to understand what costs will go into the home loan.‍

#5: Refinancing Restrictions

Refinancing an FHA-insured home loan has more restrictions. While the lender will set the terms for a refinance, consider if refinancing is achievable. The restrictions include a maximum loan-to-value ratio, credit requirements that may be higher than the initial loan, and increased MIP. Consult your lender to understand the exact credit requirements.

Comparing FHA Loans to Other Loans

Depending on a homebuyer’s situation and financial goals, some loans may be more appropriate. The other types of mortgages are conventional loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

FHA vs. Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are the standard home loan. They have higher eligibility requirements and are more flexible. A conventional loan requires a 20% down payment, a higher credit score than FHA loans, and sometimes PMI (private mortgage insurance). These loans are a better choice for moderate to high-income homebuyers.‍

FHA vs. VA Loans

VA loans are similar to FHA loans in that they are government-insured. The primary difference is that FHA loans are available to all first-time homebuyers. VA loans are only available for active duty military and veterans. VA loans help military personnel obtain home loans by providing flexible rates and requirements.

FHA vs. USDA Loans

USDA loans are another government-backed option. A USDA loan, however, is aimed at home buyers looking to purchase land in suburban areas. FHA loans do not have area requirements, meaning they are fantastic for urban properties.

Summary of an FHA Loan’s Pros and Cons

FHA loans are great options for those who qualify. The lower credit requirements, lower down payments, lenient DTI requirements, and government-backed insurance benefit lower-income first-time home buyers. On the other hand, MPI (mortgage insurance premiums), Limits on loan size, property, additional fees, and tricky refinancing. It is essential to talk with your lender to understand your options and see if an FHA loan is suitable.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

An FHA loan may be perfect if you are a low to middle-income first-time homebuyer. Veterans may want to consider a VA loan, and those moving to a rural area should consider a USDA loan. Conventional home loans might be appropriate for those with high credit and cash for a large down payment.  FHA loans will offer flexibility and low interest at the cost of term flexibility and lower sums.

To learn more about FHA loans or start the journey of buying a new home, contact Wesley Mortgage today! We are here to help you through this life-changing process!

Ready to get started?

View Floor Plans and Get Prequalified For A Home Today


First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)

View Floor Plans and Get Prequalified For A Home Today


First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)

View Floor Plans and Get Prequalified For A Home Today

Emily/Parkside Form

First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)

View Floor Plans and Get Prequalified For A Home Today


First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)

View Floor Plans and Get Prequalified For A Home Today


First Name(Required)
Last Name(Required)