It’s called the American Dream: Owning your own home. It gives you freedom, responsibility, and a means to grow wealth for you and your family.
But can you afford a home of your own?
First, how many people own vs. rent? According to PEW Research the number of renters is rising, but that doesn’t mean you have to join them. The advantages of owning are incredible, and at the very least you should see if you qualify, you may be very surprised.
If you’re shopping for a new home, you might come across something called an FHA loan. Named for the Federal Housing Administration, the agency that insures them, these loans are designed to make buying more affordable, but prospective home buyers tend to look at them skeptically.
There’s a prevailing belief that FHA loans target low-income Americans to get them to buy homes they can’t really afford. That’s just not true. FHA loans are designed to help lower- and middle-income home buyers who don’t have enough saved for a down payment, but they are long-term instruments that allow homeowners to build equity over time and be in control of their own destiny.
On the Upside
FHA loans offer more relaxed qualifying restrictions such as a lower credit score, smaller reserve funds, and a higher debt-to-income ratio. Especially for millennials who may have a hard time saving up enough money for a 20% down payment, FHA Loans are a popular option. And while FHA rules and guidelines have changed over the years, the advantages are still abundant. Also, a lower credit score is acceptable for an FHA loan.
Mortgage insurance protects the lender if you can’t pay your mortgage down the road. If your down payment is less than 20%, you generally have to pay this insurance no matter what kind of loan you get. FHA borrowers must pay both an upfront mortgage insurance fee and an annual mortgage insurance fee. The upfront fee is 1.75% of the loan (so if, for example, you’re borrowing $250,000, that fee would be $4,375). Though it varies depending on your loan, the ongoing mortgage insurance premium is usually under 1%, which can add a couple hundred bucks to your monthly mortgage payment. However, the amount you save in interest by getting an FHA loan could offset that amount.
Bottom line: Get the facts, don’t listen to your friend or co-worker who really doesn’t understand the real estate lending market. This is, without a doubt, the best time to buy your home in decades. But it may not last.
Richard Cogswell has guided hundreds of renters through the process of buying a home and there is not one who regrets it. Stop making your landlord wealthy and start making a better future for you and your family.