An FHA loan is a loan that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA does not lend money, it just backs qualified lenders in case of mortgage default.
Conventional loans are not capped at a certain loan amount and not subject to mortgage insurance premiums in the same way an FHA.
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FHA loans are normally priced lower than comparable conventional loans. Also FHA loans are assumable loans; this may be a particularly good future resale point if the borrower would have an existing low interest rate on the home they are selling. That interest rate and mortgage balance can be assumed by a new buyer.
If you’re looking for a home mortgage, be sure to understand the difference between a conventional, FHA, and VA loan. By Amy Loftsgordon , Attorney Conventional, FHA, and VA loans are similar in that they are all issued by banks and other approved lenders, but some major differences exist between these types of loans.
An FHA loan is a mortgage issued by a federally approved bank or financial institution that, unlike a conventional mortgage, is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. This mortgage insurance provides the security that qualified lenders need in order to take on a riskier loan.
FHA loans are best for borrowers who have lower credit than it takes to qualify for a conventional loan. Still, those with higher credit might choose it for other reasons. Conventional: This is an "open market" loan type. In other words, the loan is not directly backed by the government.
FHA loans require a lower down payment, typically between 3.5 percent and 10 percent of the purchase price. Conventional loans require higher down payments; 20 percent is standard with variations.
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Conventional loans can be fixed-rate or adjustable rate and depending on the length of the mortgage, specific ones may prove to be better. A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that won’t change for the life of the loan.
A 15-year FHA loan with 22% down payment gets you out of paying PMI, which can actually make the FHA loan cheaper than a conventional. When we bought our house in 2012, the best FHA loan was a 2.75% 15-year fixed (no PMI with 22% down), but the best conventional was over 3% for a 15-year fixed.