What Is an FHA refinance?
An FHA refinance is a type of mortgage refinance loan that’s backed by the Federal Housing Administration. There are a variety of different types of FHA refinance loans that allow you to refinance your rate and term, cover the cost of home improvements, or turn your home’s equity into cash.
These types of loans are issued by private lenders, but are insured by the government. So they’re considered less risky by lenders and are typically easier for borrowers with lower credit scores to qualify for. FHA refinance loans typically have higher loan-to-value (LTV) limits, so it can be easier for homeowners with less equity to refinance with an FHA loan.
Who Qualifies for an FHA Refinance Loan?
The qualification standards for an FHA refinance loan are a bit different depending on the type of refinance. And certain FHA refinance loans require you to refinance from an existing FHA mortgage to qualify, such as an FHA streamline refinance.
If you’re refinancing from an FHA loan into a new FHA loan, the process may be simpler. In some circumstances, you may not need an appraisal or credit check in order to qualify. And there are advantages to refinancing from conventional loan to FHA loan, such as potentially higher LTV limits.
When an FHA Refinance Makes Sense
An FHA refinance makes sense when it can help you save money or if it aligns with your financial goals. A rate and term refinance could be a good way to reduce your interest rate, loan term, or monthly payment.
When you refinance your mortgage, there will be upfront fees in the form of closing costs. These fees are typically 2% to 5% of the loan balance, which can be thousands of dollars. So you’ll need to be able to reduce your refinance rate or monthly payment enough to offset these costs over the long term.
You may also want to refinance your mortgage to pay for home repairs or improvements. This can be done with an FHA cash out refinance or FHA 203(k) refinance loan. You won’t be able to exceed the FHA loan limits for your area but these loans can have less strict qualification standards than with a conventional cash out refinance.
What Are the Pros and Cons of an FHA refinance?
FHA refinance mortgages can be simpler and easier to qualify for than a conventional refinance. But they also come with extra fees that you might not need to pay with other refinancing options.
Lower credit score required
No employment verification or credit check with a streamline refinance
Easier to qualify for with blemishes on your credit report (e.g., bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc.)
Upfront mortgage insurance premium
Can’t always refinance from a conventional loan
Must abide by the FHA loan limits
More guidelines to navigate, stricter appraisal standards
What About an FHA Streamline Refinance?
If you have an existing FHA loan, the FHA streamline refinance program offers a quick and easy to way refinance your mortgage. You may be able to skip the appraisal, credit check, or verification of your income. Instead, your payment history can qualify you for the loan, as long as you’ve made on-time payments for the preceding 12 months.
To qualify for an FHA streamline refinance, you’ll need to be saving money in some way. The FHA calls this requirement a “net tangible benefit.” The net tangible benefit requirement varies depending on the loan, but it typically involves securing a lower interest rate, going from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, or extending your loan term to lower your monthly payments. With an FHA streamline refinance, you cannot receive more than $500 cash back through your refinance.