FHA Vs. Conventional Loans: Which is Better?

3 Reasons Dave Ramsey Doesn't Like FHA Loans

Most people require a mortgage to fund the purchase of a home because it is typically the most significant investment they make. Your rate, terms, eligibility restrictions, and ultimately the kind of property you can afford depending on the mortgage you choose. Two of the most popular types of mortgages are FHA loans and conventional loans. Borrowers can finance the purchase of a property using conventional and FHA loans, but they are not equivalent. Here is a summary of the main distinctions to consider while looking for a mortgage for your future house.

Comparison of Mortgage Insurance Requirements Between FHA and Conventional Loans

There are fundamental differences between the two types of loans. FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which reimburses lenders in the case of default. Just like California FHA loan, FHA loans have more flexible qualifications. As a result, they cost slightly more than conventional loans, but the government backing means that if you don’t qualify for a traditional loan, you’ll be protected by FHA insurance.

 On the other hand, conventional loans are not backed by the government, so the lenders must bear more risks and costs. In addition, FHA loans have more flexible qualifications. As a result, they cost slightly more than conventional loans, but the government backing means that if you don’t qualify for a traditional loan, you’ll be protected by FHA insurance.

Another big difference between FHA and conventional loans is the amount of mortgage insurance required upfront. For instance, if you’re purchasing a $250,000 house, you’ll need to pay $4,375 in mortgage insurance upfront. However, you can still qualify for an FHA loan if you’re a lower-income homebuyer with an average credit score.

Regarding mortgage insurance, the FHA mortgage insurance premium has two components: the Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premium, which you’ll need to pay upfront, and the Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium, which will be built into your monthly mortgage payment. This upfront mortgage insurance premium is usually 1.75% of the base loan amount. The amount you’ll have to pay will vary depending on your down payment, loan-to-value ratio, and loan amount. In addition, you’ll need to meet FHFA loan limits, which vary by county.

Conventional loans are available for a broader range of homebuyers. Most banks offer conventional loans and have standard terms and conditions. There are also fewer restrictions on the types of properties that you can purchase.

Mortgage Insurance is Required on Conventional Loans

Mortgage insurance, otherwise known as PMI, is required on conventional loans with less than a 20% down payment. However, many lenders have low down payment programs that allow borrowers to put down as little as 3%. PMI protects the lender’s investment by covering the loss if a borrower fails to make mortgage payments. This insurance is typically a monthly premium added to the monthly mortgage payment.

While PMI is required on conventional loans, it can be removed once the borrower reaches a certain home equity level. The Homeowners Protection Act requires lenders to notify borrowers of this requirement yearly and cancel it automatically when the loan balance comes to 78 percent of the home’s value.

PMI can also be avoided by paying a 20% down payment. However, if the borrower has less than 20% equity, they should consider obtaining a private mortgage insurance policy to protect the lender against loss during foreclosure. The cost of PMI is based on the type of loan, credit score, and size of the down payment.

PMI premiums vary depending on the loan type. The cost of mortgage insurance on a conventional loan is typically between 0.55% and 2.5% of the loan amount. However, this premium is not refundable if the borrower moves from the home. Depending on the loan’s terms, PMI premiums may be paid in total upfront or monthly. It is important to note that mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans are also different.

Cost of Mortgage Insurance on Conventional Loans

The cost of mortgage insurance on a conventional loan can be high. This mandatory insurance policy covers the lender in case of default. Sometimes, lenders will accept lower down payments in return for the insurance. This allows more people to become homeowners. However, it is essential to note that the insurance premium is not required on all loans.

PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is another type of insurance that lenders charge homeowners with conventional loans. This insurance pays the lender a lump sum if the borrower fails to repay the loan. It’s an excellent option for first-time home buyers, allowing them to buy a home faster. Without mortgage insurance, they would have to wait many years to build up enough equity to put down a large enough down payment.

The cost of mortgage insurance on a conventional loan is typically 0.25% to 2% of the loan amount but can be much more depending on the loan type, insurance provider, and credit score. The costs can be as low as $125 per month or as high as $2,100 a year.

The premium for PMI depends on several factors, including the borrower’s FICO score, the LTV ratio, and the loan-to-value ratio.

While the upfront premium is generally higher than the monthly premium, there are options for reducing this premium by paying it in three equal installments over the loan’s life.