In 1934, the FHA was created with the intent of helping those with low and moderate incomes to buy homes. In the past, FHA increased its market share during housing market slumps and played an important role in stabilizing the market. While a 10% share is optimal, FHA insured nearly 30% of all home loans in the past year. Even government officials believe this may be way too large.
So the FHA has made some more stringent changes to reduce their risk:
1. This month, the 3.5 percent down-payment requirements on loans insured by the FHA have increased to 10 percent for borrowers with credit scores below 580. Borrowers with credit scores of 580 or above still will be able to put down the traditional 3.5percent down.
2. The upfront mortgage insurance premium increased from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent
3. The closing cost concessions that sellers could give buyers has been reduced from 6 percent of the loan amount to 3 percent.
However, these changes are encouraging some home buyers to return to Private-Mortgage-Insurance (PMI), who have also made changes to their policies. In the recent past, PMI was not available in an area with a declining market, such as California. Although, according to Lew Sichelman of The Los Angeles Times,"one private mortgage insurance company now will insure five-percent down-payment loans to borrowers nationwide."
Buyers need to remember that premiums for both private mortgage insurance and government-insured FHA loans may be tax deductible. Also, after gaining 20% equity in the home, with an appraisal, the mortgage insurance can typically be canceled.
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