So you have found your dream house and are ready to make an offer. Congratulations! All that is left to do now is get a home loan secured from a lender to pay the house. If you are a first-time homebuyer it can, of course, be confusing to navigate all of the ins and outs of getting a mortgage and it is not an easy process.
Before making a final decision on a home loan, be sure to research all of the mortgage options that are available to you very thoroughly. The home’s location, how long you are planning to live in the house, and competition from other buyers for the home are all factors to consider when shopping for a home loan. You will ideally also want a mortgage that does not break your budget with high-interest rates and exorbitant fees.
We have summarized some of the more common kinds of mortgages that are available to homeowners below so that you can be confident when approaching the home buying process.
Homeowners need to be aware that a majority of mortgages are either classified as conventional home loans or government-insured loans. The federal government insures government-insured loans, but not conventional home loans – which makes them a bit riskier for lenders. That means that home buyers who are looking to take out a conventional home loan are going to likely need to have excellent credit.
The size of a home loan is another way to characterize them. Most of them are either jumbo loans or conforming loans. Along with the size and insurance source of a loan, the structure of the interest rate is another key characteristic of home loans.
Typically, mortgages are either classified as being fixed-rate mortgages, which means that the interest rate does not change, or as an adjustable-rate mortgage, which means the interest rate adjusts and changes over time based on what the current market conditions are.
One of the more common kinds of mortgages that are available to homeowners is the conventional home loan. The federal government does not insure this type of loan. Non-conforming home loans are conventional mortgages that exceed the federal loan limits. A jumbo home loan is the most common kind of non-conforming home loan. Bankrate.com says that jumbo home loans are used whenever the price of the home exceeds the federal loan limit.
Since the government does not back conventional loan there isn’t any guarantee that the borrower will pay back the loan, which for the lender, makes them a riskier type of loan to offer. That is why typically conventional home loan borrowers must have limited debt, a good credit history, and a high income. It can be hard to qualify for conventional mortgages, but for those homeowners who are able to, there are some advantages. If a 20 percent down payment or more is made on a conventional mortgage, private mortgage insurance (PMI) will not need to be paid.
Government-backed loans are a popular alternative to conventional mortgages. Three government agencies insure these loans, including the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The following is a quick overview of these three government-insured types of mortgages.
FHA Loans – An FHA mortgage is often considered to be the easiest type of loan for homeowners to get. The reason for this is that lenders will be more likely to take on the risk of borrowers who are less than perfect since the loan will be covered by the FHA if the borrower falls behind on their payments. A large down payment is not required by the Texas FHA loan.
Those with an FHA loan, in fact, can put down as low as 3.5 percent of the total purchase price to purchase a home. To qualify for an FHA loan, homeowners also don’t need to have a high credit score. However, FHA loans do have a few downsides associated with them that homebuyers need to consider.
First of all, an FHA loan can only be used to buy a primary residence – not an investment property or secondary residence. Second, high mortgage insurance premiums must be paid by homebuyers, which can increase the cost of their mortgages.
VA Loans – Another good alternative to conventional mortgages is the VA loan. However, in order to qualify for this type of loan, homeowners must either be active members or veterans of the United States military. Service members who do qualify are able to get a mortgage without being required to pay mortgage insurance or make a down payment.
Bankrate.com reports that closing costs frequently are paid by the seller and are capped. Although VA loans are a very affordable alternative to conventional mortgages, there are also a few downsides associated with them. To begin with, there are a limited number of buyers who are able to qualify for this kind of home loan.
Second, there are also restrictions on the kinds of properties that you can buy with a VA loan. For example, this type of loan cannot be used to buy rental properties. Third, homebuyers who buy a house using a VA loan are charged a funding fee, that can range from 1.25 percent up to 3.3 percent of the total amount that is borrowed.
USDA loans – This type of loan is for low-income homebuyers who want to buy a property that is located in specific designated rural areas. Before applying for a USDA loan, a homebuyer will need to check to see whether the address qualifies as one of the rural areas. USDA loans have low-interest rates and do not require high credit scores or a down payment.
However, the drawback is that borrowers need to be low or moderate-income earners. The benefits of this type of loan also vary depending on the amount of money the borrower earns. Homebuyers also can only qualify for this type of loan when the house that they want to buy is in a designated rural area according to the USDA.
For those homebuyers who prefer predictability and stability, the best option is probably a fixed-rate mortgage. Those who opt for a fixed-rate home loan will be paying the same mortgage payment each month over the entire life of their loan, no matter what the current interest rates are or how much they increase or decrease.
Typically, a fixed-rate loan has a lifetime of 30, 20, or 15 years. For homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage, knowing that their mortgage payments each month will always be the same allows them to be able to budget their expenses based on this.
However, it can also make it a slow process to build equity in their homes. Typically, interest rates are also higher on fixed-rate mortgages. That is why a fixed-rate mortgage might not be the best fit for borrowers who are not planning on staying in their houses for a very long time.
An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, offers loans with non-fixed interest rates. The rate instead changes and fluctuates based on what the current market conditions are. That means that homeowners who have an ARM loan might have lower monthly mortgage payments over a certain time period.
However, after a certain period of time, those monthly payments are subject to change, which makes them unpredictable for homeowners who are planning to stay in their houses over a long time period. For example, homeowners who have a 5/1 ARM might have a great interest rate for five years but then their monthly rate might increase each subsequent year based on what the current market conditions are.