Today I’m posting tip #7 of a 10-part series on things you need to know before you start your house hunt.
TIP #7. Choose your loan, before you shop for your home.
There are two main types of loan categories; Conventional Loans and Government Loans. The loan options available to you will be determined by:
- Down Payment
- Loan Amount
- Loan to Value or need for Mortgage Insurance
- Credit Score
- Property Type
Down payment: If your assets allow a down payment of 10% or more, then a conventional loan may be a worthwhile consideration. The mortgage insurance (MI) costs will be lower and it may be possible to remove the mortgage insurance earlier than on government loans.
Loan Amount: If your loan amount will be $417,000 or lower and you are buying in the continental US, an FHA, VA, USDA or Conventional loan are all options for you. If over $417,000, then your transaction would fall into whats called a JUMBO loan. September 2011 is the latest that FHA loans may be funded up to the $417,000 loan amount. We will have to wait and see what the new maximum loan for FHA will be after that date.
Loan to Value: If your down payment will be less than 10%, then you will want to look at securing a government loan like FHA, VA or USDA. FHA still requires a 3.5% down payment, all of which could be a gift, or a combination gift/grant, etc. VA requires no down payment from qualified Veterans with full eligibility. USDA also provides 100% financing, however, the property must be located in a less populated or rural area.
Credit Score: Credit scores play an important role in your options for home-loan financing. The better your credit score is, the better your loan pricing and options will be.
Property Type: Not all loans are available for all types of properties. Most notably, condominiums. Condos need to meet certain requirements for both FHA and conventional loans. The approval requirements are quite stringent. Some condo’s meet FHA standards, some Fannie Mae, some both or some VA. Most condos will not be in an area that conforms to USDA requirements.
For all of the above reasons it is wise for buyers to start early with an informed lender before beginning their home search. It is important to work with a lender that will help you understand all options available to you. Getting pre-approved first, is as much about finding the right loan options available to you, as it is about satisfying the home sellers that you have the necessary financing in place to successfully and quickly close your home loan.
As always, I am here to answer any of your home-loan questions!