FHA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We get a lot of questions from our readers, and we try to answer as many of them as possible. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about FHA loans.

Questions About Eligibility Requirements

The questions and answers below address the minimum requirements for borrowers.

What’s the average credit score?
As mentioned above, the lowest possible score for an FHA-insured mortgage loan is 500. But many of our readers have also inquired about the average score among borrowers who use this program. It’s around 683 for home buyers, according to Ellie Mae.

Are they just for first-time buyers?
There is a common misconception that FHA-insured mortgage loans are reserved for those who are buying their first home. This is not true. People who have owned a house in the past can also use this program, as long as they meet the basic criteria.

How much can I qualify for and afford?
The amount the lender is willing to give you will depend on several factors. Your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is one of the most important factors that will influence their decision.

Down Payment Questions

Can my down payment be gifted?
In a word, yes. One of the benefits of using an FHA loan to buy a house is that the down payment funds can be gifted by a family member, a friend, or other approved donor.

The Process: Application, Underwriting and Closing

How long do FHA loans take to close?
The length of time between the application and final closing can vary based on several factors. It might take anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on these variables.

Why would I be turned down for FHA?
Borrowers can be denied financing for many reasons. Understanding these reasons is the first step to avoiding them. This article explains some of the most common reasons for rejection.

Is there a credit check before closing?
Your lender will check your credit reports and scores when you apply for a loan. But they might check it again a few days before closing. So it’s best to preserve the status quo in between.

Can the seller pay my closing costs?
Current HUD guidelines allow the seller to contribute money toward the home buyer’s closing costs, up to 6% of the sale price in most cases. But the seller is not required to do this.

Home Appraisals and Inspections

Is a home inspection required?
HUD does not require a home inspection to be performed when an FHA loan is used. But they do require an appraisal to determine the market value, and future “marketability,” of the property. This article explains the difference between these procedures.

Why would a home be rejected?
There are several reasons why a particular house might be turned down for FHA mortgage insurance. If it does not meet HUD’s minimum property requirements, it might not be approved. Low appraisals are another potential problem.

What if the appraisal is below sale price?
When you apply for an FHA loan, your mortgage lender will have the home appraised to determine its value. And there’s a chance the home will appraise for less than the purchase price.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP)

How long do I pay mortgage insurance?
In the past, borrowers were able to cancel their mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) once they reached a certain level of equity. But that all changed a couple of years ago. Now, it might follow you for the “life” of the loan.

Other / General Questions

How are FHA rates determined?
This is actually a two-part question, and we have answered both parts of it in this article. It explains how rates are set across the board, and how lenders will determine yours.