Buying a Home? Why the FHA Loan is No Longer the Low Down Payment Loan of Choice

This the second article in a series discussing the ins and outs of the best mortgage loan products available for home buyers.  Last week, the USDA Rural Housing Loan was featured.

The FHA loan was once a very popular and useful loan for helping first time home buyers achieve their dreams of home ownership.  “Was” is the key word though because this loan is no longer the loan of choice for most home buyers.

First let me explain why the FHA loan has become the dinosaur of mortgage loans, and then I will explain what is the new best loan with a low down payment that can be obtained anywhere, regardless of whether it is in the City limits or not (see last week’s article about USDA loans).

Due to substantial losses taken during the economic recession and housing crisis, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) had to increase its revenues to keep operating and attempt to avoid  a taxpayer bailout.  FHA makes its money by insuring loans which in turn allows mortgage lenders to grant loans over 80% loan to value.  In short, the FHA (backed by the U.S. Government) stands behind the loan, allowing lenders to loan home buyers up to 96.5% of the cost of the house.  Without this guaranty, lenders will not loan more than 80% of the cost of a home, eliminating many potential home owners from being able to buy.  After all, how many buyers have an extra $40,000 to put down on that $200,000 house?

For its most popular loan, the 3.50% down 30 year fixed rate mortgage,  FHA now charges 1.75% up-front Mortgage Insurance (MI) and an additional 1.35% annual MI based on the outstanding loan balance.  This annual MI expense used to drop off after the loan reached around 78% loan to value and home owners could request its removal after only 5 years.

However now, FHA borrowers must pay this MI for the full 30 years of their loans even when the loan to value is less than 50%, even when it is less than 10%.  On a $200,000 house the cost of the up-front MI would be $3,377.50 and the beginning monthly MI cost is $215.46 or $2,585 in just the first year.

The FHA loan was designed with a noble cause in mind: to make home ownership more affordable.  Yet now when compared side by side against the USDA Rural Housing Loan and the Conventional Loan with 3% Down, FHA is the most expensive loan option available.

There are a few scenarios where it does make sense to get an FHA loan:

  • If the buyer has had a bankruptcy and/or foreclosure within the past 7 years. Conventional financing requires a 7 year period to have passed, but FHA’s waiting period is only 3 years.  I recently closed a loan where FHA granted an exception and allowed the loan to be made less than 3 years from the foreclosure date (but greater than two years) due to extenuating circumstances.
  •  Manufactured Home Loans. The only mortgage loan product I have available for a manufactured home is an FHA Loan Product.  This is a lower cost loan than other financing for manufactured homes through finance companies.
  •  Refinancing? FHA offers some higher cash out refinance options than conventional loans and also FHA has a Streamline refinance where the home owner can get the benefit of a lower rate without having to have an appraisal completed on the house. This is very useful for those who home value is under water.

If you cannot qualify for a USDA Rural Housing loan due to income or property location eligibility reasons and want a low down payment loan, the Conventional Loan with 3% down is a better and lower cost option than the FHA loan.  I’ll feature this product in my next post.

You are welcome to email specific questions to me at, call me at 850-866-2963, and also visit my website at

Mike Tarleton
Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer
Bank of England
850-866-2963 (Cell)
706-888-0980 (Cell / Text)

NMLS: 264821
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Buying A New Home? Which Mortgage Loan is the Best?

Are you in the market to buy a house?  What kind of mortgage loan do you want? The best loan with the lowest rate of course. That is an easy answer. What is not so easy is determining the ins and outs of the various products available. It all depends on several things:

  • How much are you paying for your home?
  • What down payment are you able and willing to make?
  • Where is your home located? Certain products have geographical restrictions like the USDA Rural Housing loan.
  • Do you have VA loan eligibility?
  • Are you buying a home that will need a Jumbo loan?
  • Are you buying a stick-built or manufactured home?

There are so many variables and loan products, each with its own pros and cons that it quickly becomes a mind boggling process.  Over the next few weeks I will feature a different mortgage loan product and discuss the ins and outs of each.  You are welcome to email specific questions to me at and also visit my website at

This week’s featured mortgage is the:

USDA Rural Housing Loan

The Good:

  • This loan offers 100% financing for qualified buyers.
  • It is a government backed loan which means the interest rates are normally lower than conventional loans.
  • This loan is geared towards borrowers with low to moderate income levels.
  • This loan is a lower cost loan when compared side by side with the FHA loan.

The Bad:

  • The property you are buying must be located in an area deemed eligible by USDA and they did not create this program for city slickers.  If you are buying in Bay County there is a good chance the house is eligible.  Areas which are eligible are typically located outside the city limits, but you can find a link to the eligibility maps here:
  • USDA also has a maximum income limitation to qualify.  It’s not just your income but the income of everyone that resides in your household whether they are on the loan or not (even the teenage part-time worker).  The link posted above will take you to a page that you can input your information to see if you are eligible based on your income and household information.
  • The loan has to be underwritten twice, once by the lender which is usually a 3-4 week process, and then again by the Statewide USDA office. Currently the Florida USDA office in Gainesville is telling lenders to expect 30-40 days for files to be underwritten. That makes the total process start to finish around 60-70 days.
  • Does the house you are buying have a pool? If so, USDA will not finance any value to be given to the pool.  It’s not that a USDA cannot be made if there is a pool but the house must appraise on its own merit with no value given to the pool.

The Ugly:

  • Since I moved to PCB, I have run across several service members that were made USDA loans rather than VA loans and are now trying to refinance to lower their rates.  Had these people taken out VA loans rather than USDA loans when they bought their houses years ago they would now be much better off because they could refinance them more easily. I’ve seen people with higher rate USDA loans not be able to refinance to lower their rates for a variety of reasons such as (1) they are now making too much money and are over the income limitation threshold, (2) they no longer live in the house (military tend to move every few years), (3) they have married and the household income is too high and over the threshold limit, etc…  However, this should not scare anyone from getting a USDA loan now. There is not much likelihood that rates will ever be this loan again and especially.


One important thing to consider is that while the USDA loan does offer 100% financing, it does not provide financing for closing costs and pre-paid items like insurance and property taxes.

Despite a few items to consider, the USDA loan is still a great loan, especially if you want no down payment.  It is a much better and less costly loan than the FHA loan.  USDA charges an up-front Funding Fee of 2% which is financed into your loan and also charges 0.40% that is paid monthly included in your payment amount. Compare with FHA’s monthly mortgage insurance cost of 1.35% this is definitely the way to go if you and the house you are buying meet the qualifications.

Mike Tarleton
Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer
Bank of England
850-866-2963 (Cell)
706-888-0980 (Cell / Text)

NMLS: 264821
Logos with pic

Closing Delays: Part 2

Last week we discovered some of the hold ups and glitches that keep a property from closing on time. We are going to continue on in that vein since the causes are many and being educated seems to keep the frustration level to a bare minimum.

I know everyone has heard that appraisals, or the lack thereof, have been a bone of contention for many a Real Estate transaction. Customers are sometimes shocked to find that the property is not appraising for what they thought and many times there are simply no available current comps to go by. The new Home Valuation Code of Conduct, or HVCC has further added to the delay, Continue reading “Closing Delays: Part 2”

Anticipation… Oh Those Closing Delays!

As usual I try to concentrate on what is going on in our Real Real Estate world and there have been plenty of challenges to think and write about. I have found however if you are proactive it may lessen the sting for you and your customers. A new trend or new challenge for all of us has been the dreaded closing delay. Delays have become the norm rather than the exception so I thought it would be good to go over some of the causes so our customers can be forewarned and be ready.

Having a contract is a GREAT thing for all of us but as the old song says,”We have only just begun…”
According to the National Association of Realtors between 10 and 14 percent of pending transactions don’t close. Another 20 percent are delayed and that statistic is rising!!!!

One of our biggest defenses is letting our customers know up front that there may be delays and to be prepared for them so they are not taken aback at the last hour!!! The area of loan approval and qualifications is a big area that has been causing the delay of close.

Buyers need to be aware that qualifications are tricky these days and even getting a pre-qualification letter does not mean the buyer will be approved for the loan. Many banks are no longer issueing pre-approval letters. Verifying income and assets up front is vital in knowing the financial health of the buyer. New requirements under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act have brought changes to the way banks are able to qualify buyers. Continue reading “Anticipation… Oh Those Closing Delays!”

Celebrate Panama City Beach!

I have always loved the quote, “The more you CELEBRATE the more you have to CELEBRATE”  As I was taking my early Sunday gratitude walk on our beautiful white sand beaches with waves lapping at my ankles  I was celebrating every step.  Now is a great time to think GRATITUDE for  all that we have in Panama City beach and all the good in our lives that we can turn around and share with others.  I am sure that many of you know people that make complaining an art form and can go from distress to disaster in a matter of moments but it is my hope that is not our life plan. Continue reading “Celebrate Panama City Beach!”

Don't Be Too Short On The Short!!!!

I know you thought that I was finished talking about short sales but here we go again. There has been a trend in short sale pricing that has been a bone of contention and a sore spot for Realtors and would be home buyers. Let me set the stage…. gorgeous home in a fabulous neighborhood should be about 400,000 even in today’s market and this price is a tantalizing teasing price of $199,000 and the lines begin to form and the phones are ringing off the hook. The trend of pricing a short sale too low is not only misleading at best but can cause all other manner of dominoes to fall. Another issue is the offering too low a price for the foreclosure when market value shows the price is way below market. Continue reading “Don't Be Too Short On The Short!!!!”

Great News for Home Buyers! Rural Development a Great Option!

Let me start by saying that although there are challenges in our great state of Florida right now, we also have some things to celebrate for home buyers, especially those people who thought home ownership was out of the question for them. Many years ago when I bought my first home and you heard about Rural Development loans you thought about going to the back 40 or beyond to be able to afford a home that qualified for this program. Today things have really turned in our favor especially in Panama City Beach where much of the beach falls into that zone so to help you find your way I am going to share a little great news for would be home buyers. Continue reading “Great News for Home Buyers! Rural Development a Great Option!”

Real Estate: Top 4 Selling Tips.. Make Them Feel Welcome

I guess it goes without saying that we continue to be in a  buyers market and selling your home seems like an Olympic event at times.  Each week I am bombarded by questions about how to make your home stand out from the rest when selling.  I will not hammer my number one point which is price because I have beaten that horse and I think everyone gets it by now.  So beyond price what can you do as a seller? I want to share the Top 4 tips for making your home an inviting and welcoming place.

1.  Welcoming atmosphere

Buying a home is not just about the physical, it is a deeply emotional decision.  The buyer needs to imagine themselves living and growing in your home. Continue reading “Real Estate: Top 4 Selling Tips.. Make Them Feel Welcome”

Homes Data Promising

The National Association of Homebuilders reported this week that their “Housing Market Index”, a survey among its members to quantify builder sentiment about the housing market, rose three points in May to 22. While this is still well below the 50 mark which indicates builders feel optimistic about the housing market, it is the highest reading since August of 2007. It has not been above 50 since April of 2006. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that new home construction soared in April – up nearly 41% from the same moth last year. The number of starts in April was also 5.8% higher than the previous month. The number of applications for new building permits actually fell for the month – down 11.5% from March. April 2010 applications were, however, still nearly 16% higher than the same month in 2009. Continue reading “Homes Data Promising”

Rural Development – Good News/ Bad News

As a flood of first-time homebuyers rushed to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit the Rural Development program has been strained to the limit with a year’s allocation of funds expected to be depleted sometime tomorrow. There has been little interest in Congress to extend funding and it now appears that without a last minute vote to re-fund the program, Rural Development will be out of funds on Wednesday. This will leave lenders with only the ability to secure “conditional commitments” from Rural Development. Continue reading “Rural Development – Good News/ Bad News”