FHA Loans and Down Payment Assistance

Here’s a question we get from many new homebuyers: Do you have to use an Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan with down payment assistance? The answer is no — there are different types of mortgages available depending on your situation.

Each down payment assistance program has a list of “eligible first mortgages” that can be used with the program. A first mortgage is simply your primary home loan. And your down payment assistance can come in many forms, such as a gift forgiven at closing or a second mortgage — funded by a Housing Finance Agency (HFA), municipality, nonprofit or employer. Most down payment programs accept a range of first mortgages, including conventional, FHA, USDA and VA loans. keep reading

What Does the New Tax Law Mean for First-Time Buyers?

With significant changes to the tax code taking effect this year, homeowners and prospective buyers are revising their plans to take advantage of its sweeping changes. Here’s an analysis based on information from the National Association of Realtors and NerdWallet.

Tax Rate Reductions. Joint filers with incomes of $77,400 to $400,000, which will include most first-time buyers, will see their tax rates decline from two to four percent when they file their 2018 taxes next year.

Mortgage Interest Rate. Changes in the mortgage interest rate—lowering the cap to mortgages worth one million to $750,000 from 1 million and excluding interest paid on home equity loans—would affect only the wealthiest first-time buyers directly. The changes will make second homes and equity loans more expensive for first-time buyers in the future. keep reading

Do Low Down Payments Make Mortgages More or Less Affordable?

File this question under “it depends.”

It’s true that loans with down payments of 20 percent or more cost borrowers less over time than low down payment loans. Low down payments leave larger principals to pay off, and those principals create more interest over time. Low down payment loans also require mortgage insurance.

However, a low down payment itself can actually boost affordability by getting you off the sidelines and into a home of your own sooner. keep reading