Everything You Need to Know About FHA Loans When Buying a House in Kauai

Everything You Need to Know About FHA Loans When Buying a House in Kauai

Many aspiring homeowners throw in the towel too early. They believe that if they can’t qualify for a conventional, USDA, or VA loan, then their dream of owning their own home is over. But that’s not necessarily the case. There are still FHA loans, which have more lenient credit requirements, along with a fairly low down-payment requirement. Does this sound something like you’d be interested in? Read on, then, to find out what you need to know about FHA loans when buying a house in Kauai.

Overview of FHA Loans

Before you jump in and make the decision to get an FHA loan for buying a house in Kauai, you need to know that you need to know first. So let’s start with a brief overview of FHA loans.

“An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. With a minimum 3.5% down payment for borrowers with a credit score of 580 or higher, FHA loans are popular among first-time home buyers who have little savings or have credit challenges.

“The FHA insures mortgages issued by lenders, like banks, credit unions, and non-banks. That insurance protects lenders in case of default, which is why FHA lenders are willing to offer favorable terms to borrowers who might not otherwise qualify for a home loan.”

Keep in mind, though, that only FHA-approved lenders can issue FHA-insured loans. But an FHA loan “can be used to buy or refinance single-family houses, two- to four-unit multifamily homes, condominiums, and certain manufactured homes. In addition, there are specific FHA loans that can be used for new construction or renovation of an existing home.

FHA Loans vs. Conventional Loans

To help you get an even better handle on buying a house with an FHA loan, let’s see how FHA loans differ from conventional loans.

  • Conventional loans are not “insured or guaranteed by the federal government.”
  • FHA loans allow lower qualifying credit scores and (sometimes) lower monthly mortgage insurance.
  • “FHA rules are more liberal regarding gifts of down payment money from family, employers, or charitable organizations.”
  • “FHA loans may involve closing costs that aren’t required by conventional loans.

How FHA Loans Work

Before buying a house with an FHA loan, you should also know something about how they work.

The typical FHA loan comes in either a 15-year or a 30-year term with a fixed interest rate. But the lenient standards come with a catch. “Borrowers must pay FHA mortgage insurance, which is designed to protect the lender from a loss if the borrower defaults. 

In addition, all FHA loans require the borrower to pay two mortgage insurance premiums . . . 

  • An upfront mortgage insurance premium of “1.75 percent of the loan amount, paid when the borrower gets the loan” (though the premium can be rolled into the loan amount)
  • Annual mortgage insurance premiums of 0.45% to 1.05%, “depending on the loan term (15 years versus 30 years), the loan amount, and the initial loan-to-value ratio

The good news here is that for most borrowers who financed 90% or less of a home’s value, these insurance premiums will be canceled after 11 years. In addition, FHA lenders can charge no more than 3-5% of the loan amount in closing costs.

Qualifying Criteria for FHA Loans

Buying a house with an FHA loan means that you’ll have to meet certain qualifying criteria, such as . . . 

  • A down payment of 10% with a credit score of 500-579, but a down payment of 3.5% with a score of 580 or above
  • A verifiable employment history of two consecutive years
  • The house is to be used as a primary residence only
  • Passing an appraisal by an FHA-approved appraiser, as well as meeting HUD guidelines
  • A front-end debt ratio of a maximum of 31%
  • A back-end debt ratio of no more than 43% of gross monthly income
  • A two-year wait “before applying for the loan after bankruptcy or three years after a foreclosure

FHA Loan Pros and Cons

And now let’s look at some of the pros and cons of buying a house with an FHA loan.


  • Lower credit-score requirement
  • Relatively low down-payment requirement
  • Opportunity to stop renting sooner owing to the ease of an FHA loan


  • Mortgage insurance requirement
  • Eligibility requirements for a property
  • An APR often higher than with conventional loans
  • FHA loans available only through FHA-approved lenders

The Kauai Team That Can Help

FHA loans are very attractive and a great way for first-time buyers with less than sterling credit to get into home ownership. There are, however, some fairly extensive qualifying criteria, as well as definite pros and cons that must be taken into account. So how do you determine whether an FHA loan is right for you? Our team of experienced Kauai agents can help. They can help your find qualifying houses and guide you through the process. When buying a house is on your horizon and you’re considering an FHA loan, be sure to contact us at 808-634-4518.

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