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FHA Mortgage Glossary

FHA loan: A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration and made by an approved lender in accordance with the FHA regulations.

FHA Refinancing: Refinancing that makes it possible to lower your interest rate and your monthly payments. You may also take out cash from the equity in your home to pay off debt or make home improvements, or avoid foreclosure on your home.

Fixed Rate Mortgages: FHA fixed-rate mortgages, or Section 203(b), are the most common and popular type of FHA mortgage. The interest rate does not change with a fixed-rate mortgage. A fixed-rate FHA mortgage insures the lender for the total amount of the mortgage in case the buyer defaults. This type of mortgage requires a smaller down payment than a conventional mortgage would require. The typical down payment for a fixed-rate mortgage is 3 percent of the total amount borrowed. A fixed-rate mortgage can offer a lower interest payment if the mortgage is taken out during a period of low-interest rates. A fixed-rate mortgage can also offer stability; your monthly payments will be the same for the life of the mortgage. Fixed-rate mortgages can be taken out for a period of 10, 15, 20, or 30 years.

Adjustable-rate Mortgages: FHA adjustable-rate mortgages, or Section 215, have interest rates that increase and decrease, depending on the current federal index. An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, is attractive because interest rates are initially lower than interest rates on a fixed-rate mortgage. Several factors are used to calculate an ARM, all of which can affect the interest rate. Typically, an ARM is most appealing to homebuyers who don’t intend to stay in the purchased house for more than a few years, as interest rates tend to increase over time. An ARM is convenient if current interest rates are high, as ARM rates are lower than fixed rates. It may be more appealing to use an ARM once interest rates have peaked, as the subsequent interest charged over the life of the mortgage will most likely reduce, rather than increase, monthly payments.

Teacher Next Door: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, directly offers the Teacher-Next-Door program to approved teachers in the United States to purchase housing that has been acquired by HUD at a 50 percent discount. Typically, these homes are offered in areas of revitalization, or areas found in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods that may have increased crime rates and many vacant houses but have been identified as good candidates for redevelopment efforts. Through HUD and FHA, teachers are able to purchase houses at a 50 percent discount and are required to make only a $100 down payment if the house is financed with a FHA mortgage.

Officer Next Door: This special program is identical to the Teacher Next Door program, but it is for approved law enforcement officers of the United States. To qualify for the program, law enforcement agents must live in the purchased property for a minimum of three years.

FHA Renovation Mortgages: The FHA Renovation Mortgage, or 203(k), allows homeowners to borrow money to extensively renovate their home. As much as 110% of the costs needed to repair and renovate the home can be financed. There are restrictions as to what types of repairs or renovations can take place, and the minimum amount of the 203(k) is $5000.

FHA Bridal Registry Program: Like a bridal registry for specialty and department stores, the FHA Bridal Registry program allows a couple to register with a lender. Friends or family of the couple can make gift payments into an account that bears interest. The money gifts earn interest, and can be used as a down payment towards a FHA mortgage.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Program: Programs that help low and moderate income families become homeowners by lowering some of the costs of their mortgage loans.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Costs: An FHA loan the borrower will be charged a mortgage insurance premium equal to 1.50% of the purchase price of the property and a renewal premium of .500% in subsequent years.

FHA Escrow Refunds:  If you have ever paid off a home loan backed by FHA, you may have money owed to you

Down Payment Gifts for FHA Loans: FHA allows 100% of the down payment to be a gift from friends, family or other sources.

FHA Mortgage Closing Costs: Closing costs can also be financed to reduce the up front cost of buying a home.

FHA Property Improvement Loan Insurance Title I: A program that makes it easier for consumers to obtain affordable home improvement loans by insuring loans made by private lenders to improve properties that meet certain requirements.

FHA Energy Efficient Mortgage: A program that provides mortgage insurance for the purchase or refinance of a principal residence that incorporates the cost of energy efficient improvements into the loan.