An FHA loan is a mortgage issued by an FHA-approved lender and insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Designed for low-to-moderate-income borrowers, FHA loans require a lower minimum down payments and credit scores than many conventional loans.
As of 2019, you can borrow up to 96.5% of the value of a home with an FHA loan (meaning you'll need to make a down payment of only 3.5%). You'll need a credit score of at least 580 to qualify. If your credit score falls between 500 and 579, you can still get an FHA loan provided you can make a 10% down payment. With FHA loans, your down payment can come from savings, a financial gift from a family member or a grant for down-payment assistance.
All these factors make FHA loans popular with first-time homebuyers.
While Federal Federal Housing Administration Loans (FHA Loans) demand lower down payments and credit scores than conventional loans, they do carry other stringent requirements.
It’s important to note that the Federal Housing Administration doesn't actually lend you money for a mortgage. Instead, you get a loan from an FHA-approved lender, like a bank, and the FHA guarantees the loan. Some people refer to it as an FHA insured loan, for that reason.
You pay for that guarantee through mortgage insurance premium payments to the FHA. Your lender bears less risk because the FHA will pay a claim to the lender if you default on the loan.