It's a big pothole on the road to homeownership: the down payment. FHA loans allow down payments as small as 3.5%.
On a $300,000 home, a 3.5% down payment would cost $10,500. Compare that with the traditional 20% down payment, which would come out to $60,000 on the same home. Big difference. And that’s before closing costs and other buying-a-home expenses.
To get the minimum 3.5% FHA down payment deal, you’ll need a credit score of 580 or higher. If you fall in the range of 500 to 579, you will be required to put at least 10% down. To see where you stand, get your credit score for free.
But FHA loans come with a price tag: mortgage insurance premiums. You’ll pay an upfront fee and ongoing monthly premiums.
Other low-down-payment loans
Many banks, credit unions and online mortgage lenders offer FHA loans. But FHA loans aren’t the only low-down-payment mortgages around. Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages — which are called “conforming” loans — allow down payments as low as 3% for qualified borrowers. These loans require borrowers to pay for private mortgage insurance, just as FHA loans require borrowers to pay government mortgage insurance.
» MORE: The basics of FHA loans