Timely news, information and advice concentrating on FHA, VA and USDA residential mortgage lending.

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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 loans

Before You Apply For An Adjustable-Rate Mortgage

Are you worried about FHA loan interest rates? If you have decided to explore your home loan options with an FHA adjustable rate mortgage, here are some important details to know while still planning and saving up for the loan. FHA ARM Loans Differ From Conventional ARM Loans An FHAS adjustable-rate mortgage isn’t necessarily the same as a conventional equivalent. Your conventional lender’s occupancy guidelines will vary. Does yours have a requirement that the property securing the ARM loan serves as your home address? FHA ARM loans definitely require this as a condition of loan approval.  Occupancy is key in that at least one borrower obligated on the FHA loan must live in the home being refinanced or purchased with an ARM. FHA loan rules on occupancy extend to nearly | more...

 
FHA Loans

Who Needs Homeowner Insurance?

FHA loans, VA mortgages, and similar government-backed home loans don’t force the borrower to select specific types of homeowner insurance to protect your investment but that does not mean it’s not necessary. Mortgage insurance protects the lender. If the borrower defaults on the FHA home loan, mortgage insurance minimizes the loss for the bank. Home insurance, on the other hand, is a tool for the borrower. It protects your investment by insuring your home and its contents depending on the wording of your specific policy.  First And Foremost Paying for both insurance types may make you feel there is protection for all circumstances. But not all types of damage are covered by your insurer. Did you know that flood insurance is completely separate from insurance for water damage? Some borrowers | more...

 
FHA loans

Before You Close Your FHA Home Loan

Once your FHA loan application is approved by your loan officer, is your FHA loan really “bulletproof” until closing day? Some believe that it is, but this is not true, there are many things that could wind up stopping a home loan before closing day. For example, your seller may change their mind and decide not to sell. The house might appraise for a lower amount than the seller asks for, and the borrower ultimately chooses to back out of the deal. There are too many scenarios to count. A home that is damaged or destroyed before the closing day is just one variable. While that may sound extreme, that’s a problem that happens often enough to require provisions in FHA loan regulations to guide borrowers and lenders through. Don’t | more...

 
FHA loans

Home Loans: When To Get Pre-Approved

When should a house hunter choose to get pre-approved for a home loan? It’s a common question many borrowers ask. But this question can be confusing because some use the term “prequalify” interchangeably with “pre-approval”. But these two terms actually mean different things. Getting prequalified for a home loan is something you do early in the house-hunting stages. You are not ready to make any offers, but you want to let sellers know you are not window shopping. Prequalification means the borrower has filled out some basic paperwork with a lender while in house-hunting. It is not loan approval, and borrowers still, at this stage, have a ways to go before loan approval happens, including filling out basic loan application paperwork (not pre-qualification paperwork). Do You Always Need To Pre-Qualify? | more...

 
FHA Mortgage Loan

First Time Home Buyers Should Know These FHA Loan Rules

There are some FHA loan issues that are crucial to understand before you commit to a lender or a mortgage.  For example, do you know what to do if the appraisal is lower than the asking price? Or how long you will pay for mortgage insurance? These are important things to know when planning and saving for your mortgage. FHA Loan Appraisal Issues If the house is not worth as much as the price tag, your participating FHA lender cannot lend more than the actual value of the property. This rule does not prevent add-ons to the loan, but the base loan amount is for the appraised value. If you want to buy a house that appraises lower than the asking price, you can’t finance the difference. You must pay | more...

 
FHA Home Loan

FHA Loans Versus Other Government-Backed Mortgages

There are three important government-backed mortgage loan options. They are FHA loans, VA mortgages, and USDA home loans. If you are new to these mortgage programs here are some basic facts about what to know when comparing these home loans. Basic Similarities Between FHA, VA, and USDA Home Loans How do these loans stack up to one another? These loans offer the lender federal government guarantees, reducing the risk to the bank and allowing the lender to offer lower-risk mortgages to customers with lower FICO scores or with other issues making it harder to qualify for a conventional loan. These loans also feature lower down payment requirements than some conventional lenders offer consumer benefits such as restrictions on your closing costs and what fees the lender is permitted to include. | more...

 
FHA and HUD

FHA Loan Costs: Questions Answered

Some borrowers don’t realize they are permitted to finance certain costs into an FHA home loan. This can help save money out of pocket in the earliest stages of the loan, making it easier to afford the basic initial costs of buying property. Adding more to your home loan can make your monthly payments higher, but for some, that may sound like a good trade-off for saving money upfront on the transaction. Some borrowers feel any addition to their baseline monthly payment needs justification and want to avoid adding to the loan wherever possible. Choose any FHA loan add-ons carefully. Be sure to ask the lender about each addition to your mortgage. How will it increase your monthly payment? Can I Finance FHA Required Mortgage Insurance? Yes, but with caveats. | more...

 
FHA home loan

What To Know About FHA Condo Loans

Do you need to learn how to buy a condo unit? Do you want to buy one with an FHA mortgage? The first thing to know is that FHA loan rules say condo units purchased with an FHA mortgage must either be on or added to the FHA approval list. There are exceptions for condos not on the FHA list, and these may be handled on a case-by-case basis. Always ask the participating FHA lender about this issue as early as you can. How FHA Condo Loans Work Condo loans are unique because the buyer is not the legal owner of the entire structure of the building their condo unit is located in. A condo is only a single unit in a bigger shared occupancy agreement.  You also join a | more...

 
FHA Home Loan

FHA Loan Terms: Which To Choose?

There are important differences between FHA loans with 15-year mortgages and 30-year loan terms. Those differences include the number of years you’ll pay but also how much interest you may owe. What do you need to know about the fine points of selecting a loan term for your mortgage? The Start Of Your 15 or 30-Year Loan Term 15-year and 30-year mortgages typically start their loan terms the month you and the lender agree upon in writing. Usually, this occurs sometime after closing day.  Will the actual time you pay on the loan be affected by your move-in date? In some cases, yes. If you have a construction loan, you might have to wait up to 12 months while the construction is happening. Once it’s completed and all inspections and | more...

 
FHA Mortgage

How FHA Mortgages Compare To Conventional Loans

How do FHA mortgages stack up to their conventional loan counterparts? Typical down payment issues are the most obvious comparison. The FHA has a 3.5% requirement, and conventional loan requirements vary. There are some important differences to know before you choose which mortgage loan is best for your needs. FHA Loan Best Practices FHA mortgages have two sets of rules. FHA loan program guidelines but also, lender standards like all mortgages. The FHA requires its participating lenders to keep policies that benefit the borrower. One example is the loan rule requiring ZERO penalties for early payoff of the loan. Another perk? The option to refinance later with an FHA no-credit-check streamline refinance loan option. Not all borrowers may want this option (no cash out is allowed) depending on what kind | more...