Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA-backed home loans will be lowered by 25 basis points, starting January 27, 2017.
The FHA estimates that the reduction will save homeowners an average of $500 this year, lowering the typical FHA house payment by more than $41 a month.
According to a HUD press release published January 9, the reduction will significantly expand access to mortgage credit and is expected to lower the cost of housing for the approximately 1 million households who are expected to purchase a home or refinance their mortgages using FHA-insured financing.
Consumer Affairs summed it up this way: when borrowers take out an FHA loan, they can borrow up to 96.5% of the home’s purchase price. For any loan in which the borrower puts up less than 20% of the money, the borrower is required to purchase mortgage insurance.
Since the government is guaranteeing the loan, the mortgage insurance reimburses the government in the event of default. The mortgage insurance premium is added onto the borrower’s monthly payment.
“After 4 straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced January 9.
National Association of Realtors President Bill Brown praised the move. “Dropping mortgage insurance premiums will mean a lot more responsible borrowers are eligible to purchase a home through FHA,” he said. “That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”
FHA loans are very popular, especially with first-time home buyers because the requirements are less strict than conventional loans. Borrowers can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment as little as 3.5% and a credit score of 580 or higher. The borrower’s credit score can be between 500 – 579 if a 10% down payment is made. It’s important to remember though, that the lower the credit score, the higher the interest borrowers will receive.