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Articles by: Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for www.valoans.com for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for FHANewsblog.com.

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FHA Loan Approval Rules For First-Time Home Buyers

FHA home loans are often misunderstood. Some think they are need-based loans like some offered via the USDA program, while others believe FHA mortgages can only be approved for first-time home buyers. Typically, we write that FHA mortgages do not actually offer extra perks for first-time buyers, but there is a new exception to that notion you should know about. What kind of exception? In 2022, HUD made a policy change and issued a mortgagee letter announcing that in 2022 the FHA would allow participating lenders to consider positive rental history as a factor in home loan approval. Typically, such rental verification is not a part of most credit reports provided for FHA-insured products that require credit approval and “when provided,” rental verification, “generally exists as separate documentation” the lender | more...

FHA Loans

FHA Loan Program Rule Changes: Flood Insurance Coverage

Some borrowers want to buy homes in the desert, some want to buy homes that are located in areas prone to flooding. But not all flood zones are the same; some feature an elevated risk of flooding and if you buy a home with an FHA loan in certain flood zone hazard areas you are typically required to carry special flood insurance. But new changes to the FHA home loan program make it possible for homeowners to seek private flood insurance instead of the one FHA-approved option previously available. Prior to the new rule the only insurance option possible was through the National Flood Insurance Program. In the final quarter of 2022, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that starting in December the FHA loan program allows homeowners | more...

FHA loans

Housing Market Improvements And Your FHA Home Loan in 2023

Are you looking at 2023 and considering your home loan options to buy a house with an FHA mortgage? There is news from the housing sector that could mean improved conditions for a home loan in the new year.  While it’s true that changes in the housing market don’t happen overnight, some mortgage blogs and news outlets are reporting that the typical time houses spend on the market is increasing. Thats a good sign considering how competitive the housing market was last summer. Is this the only indication that conditions may be improving for house hunters? Demand for houses seems to be falling and home loan interest rates are showing signs of gradual improvement. This could make 2023 a much better time to shop for a house than the summer | more...

FHA Home Loan

Buying A Home With An FHA Loan In 2023

The last weeks of the old year usually bring speculation about what the next year will bring, especially in terms of the economy and the real estate market. Housing market issues were a serious concern in 2022. In the wake of this year’s rising mortgage rates and house prices; what are finance blogs and market watchers saying about what’s next in 2023? Many finance websites report a general expectation that rates and house prices may improve in the new year.  But the degree of that improvement is what’s at issue. Some feel big changes are coming (compared to current conditions) while others feel those gains could be more modest. The National Association of Realtors are on record saying 2023 may see mortgage rates hover between 6% and 7%. There will | more...

Is your credit ready for an FHA loan?

First-Time Home Buyers And FHA Loan Approval: New Rules

The FHA and HUD made changes to home loan approval procedures aimed at helping first-time home buyers. These changes allow participating FHA lenders to use qualifying “positive rental payment history” in their loan approval process, but only for applicants meeting the FHA description of first-time home buyers. Borrowers who worry about their ability to be approved for a home loan may have an additional advantage using an FHA mortgage because of this. According to the HUD official site, rental data is not included in “most Tri-Merged Credit Reports or Residential Mortgage Credit Reports” which are used for FHA-insured loans. When the information IS available, it may be as separate documentation. The FHA has now updated loan approval processes and software so lenders may add positive rental information as a factor | more...

FHA Home Loan

FHA Loans In 2023: Changes In The Housing Market

Some market watchers are asking the question–is it possible we will see house prices fall in 2023? Indicators from Federal National Mortgage Association or Fannie Mae point to a cooling-off period for home prices next year. Earlier in 2022, Fannie Mae forecasted home price growth at over four percent in 2023; those numbers have since been revised. The expectations in the last three months of 2022 now tell a different story: Fannie Mae now expects home price declines of as much as 1.5% in the coming year. What created the 2022 seller’s market in the first place? Rising equity, a shortage of housing inventory, and high demand were all contributing factors. And as mortgage rates started approaching 7%, the motivation to buy seems to be tapering but it may take | more...

Mortgage Trends

Credit Score Rule Changes For Mortgage Loans

On October 24, 2022, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced its approval for participating lenders to use both the FICO 10T and the VantageScore 4.0 credit score models by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These options would replace the previous use of “traditional” FICO score model Fannie and Freddie lenders use to approve the loans.  Why are we discussing Fannie and Freddie in an article about FHA home loans? There is a possibility that this move could wind up affecting other lending programs, especially if more borrowers choose Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans as the result of the changes. Other government loan programs may follow suit in the future, and in the case of FHA mortgages, some changes are already underway. These changes do not happen overnight. There | more...

Is Your Credit Report Hurting Your Chances At Loan Approval?

Do You Need A Co-Signer For An FHA Mortgage?

Some house hunters are worried they may not be able to qualify for a home loan on their own and feel the need to add a co-signer. Other borrowers are buying a home with someone else (often significant others or spouses) and need to have more than one name on the mortgage. FHA home loans (yes, refi loans too) allow one borrower or multiple borrowers. The key to understanding how loan approval works for an FHA mortgage is to remember that all parties to be obligated on the mortgage loan must be able to financially qualify. FHA Borrowers And Co-Borrowers FHA loan rules instruct the lender that to be considered eligible for an FHA home loan or refinance loan, “…all occupying and non-occupying Borrowers and co-Borrowers must take title to | more...

Planning To Buy A Home? Credit Resources You Need

Buying A Home When Interest Rates Are High

Are you considering your FHA home loan options? You aren’t alone if you’re considering the option of waiting to buy until mortgage rates drop from current highs. How high have the rates gone? In the closing days of October 2022, the New York Times reported interest rates hit the 7% range for the first time since 2002. Do you worry that such high rates are here to stay? You couldn’t be blamed for thinking it’s a safer bet to hold off on buying a home right now. The Fannie Mae Housing Forecast for 2022 includes the possibility that mortgage loan interest rates might settle into the four percent range sometime at or near the second quarter of 2023. If that becomes a reality, could we see an increase in interested | more...

FHA loans

Is There An FHA Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is one using the equity in your home for the loan’s collateral. What is equity? It’s defined as the current value of the property minus what you still owe on the existing mortgage loan. Does the FHA offer a home equity loan? On paper, the FHA does offer a loan that allows you to get cash back at closing time like a home equity loan but the two aren’t really the same thing. Here’s why. For a home equity loan a borrower typically gets loan funds in a lump sum with a fixed interest rate, similar to an FHA Cash-Out Refinance. Borrowers who default on a home equity loan may face foreclosure the same as a cash-out loan. And both loans have other things in common–especially | more...