Fha Vs Conventional Comparison Chart

A tablet with a note that says FHA loan vs. conventional loanSelecting between Conventional and FHA loans is an important choice for potential homeowners, and navigating the world of home loans may be challenging. Making an educated decision requires knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Conventional loans come with a number of advantages, such as lenient down payment and qualifying standards.

Conversely, FHA loans have some benefits, such less credit score requirements and maybe more accommodating conditions. Factors like as interest rates, closing fees, and property requirements will be important considerations as you investigate these mortgage possibilities. With information on eligibility, financial factors, and the application procedure, this guide seeks to clarify the main features of conventional and FHA loans.

Knowing the subtle differences between these loan kinds can enable you to make wise selections while embarking on your homeownership adventure, regardless of whether you're a first-time buyer, an investor, or thinking about refinancing.

Key Takeaways:

  • Comparing conventional loans and FHA loans can help borrowers choose the best mortgage option for their home-buying needs.
  • The Federal Housing Administration backs FHA loans, while neither the government nor its agencies insure or guarantee conventional loans.
  • Conventional loans typically require a higher down payment and have stricter credit score requirements than FHA loans.
  • FHA loans offer lower down payment options and more flexible credit score requirements but have mandatory mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.
  • Borrowers should consider their financial situation and goals when deciding between conventional and FHA loans.
FHA Vs. Conventional Comparison Chart
Minimum Credit Score 500 620
Loan Term 15 to 30 years 8 to 30 years
Down Payment 3.5% (580+ Credit Score) or 10% Down Payment (500 to 579 Credit Score) 3% to 20%
Max debt to income ratio 43% (50% with conditions) 45% with conditions
Credit History Bad credit possible. Subject to reasonable explanation Bad credit history unlikely
Interest Rate Type Fixed-Rate and Adjustable-Rate Fixed-Rate and Adjustable-Rate
Cosigner Non-occupant and occupant cosigner allowed Non-occupant and occupant cosigner allowed
Max loan amount Single Family $472,030 (most counties) to $1,089,300 Single Family $726,200 (most counties) to $1,089,300
Seller Concession up to 6% of the sales price 3% to 9% depending on the down payment
Mortgage Insurance Premium Upfront: 1.75% of Loan Amount; Monthly Premium: 0.45% to 1.05% of Loan Amount Private Mortgage Insurance (<20% Down Payment): 0.58% to 1.86% of Loan Amount

What Are Conventional Loans?

Conventional loans are mortgage loans that are not government-backed or insured. Private lenders like banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies are the ones who offer them. Conventional loans are typically available in fixed-rate and adjustable-rate options.

Definition and Characteristics

Conventional loans lack backing from a government organization, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Instead, private lenders are the ones who originate and fund them. This means that the lender assumes the risk of the loan.

Conventional loans have specific characteristics that set them apart from other types of mortgages. They often have stricter qualification requirements, higher credit score thresholds, and higher down payment requirements than FHA loans. However, they also offer more flexibility regarding loan terms and options.

Down Payment and Credit Score Requirements

The down payment requirement for conventional loans can vary depending on factors such as credit score and lender requirements. Generally, conventional loans require a higher down payment compared to FHA loans. The down payment for a traditional loan can range from 3% to 20% of the purchase price. Most lenders prefer borrowers to have a credit score of 620 or higher to qualify for a conventional loan.

Interest rates and mortgage insurance

Market conditions, loan amount, credit score, and loan term are just a few examples of the variables that can affect interest rates on conventional loans. Unlike FHA loans, conventional loans may require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. However, once the borrower has accumulated enough equity in the home, PMI can be canceled.

Pros and cons

Conventional loans offer several advantages for borrowers. They provide flexible terms and various loan options to suit different needs. Conventional loans also do not typically involve upfront mortgage insurance fees, which can save borrowers money in the long run.

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Conventional loans may have stricter qualification requirements and higher credit score thresholds than FHA loans. The higher down payment requirement can also be a challenge for some borrowers.

Overall, each borrower should carefully consider their financial situation and goals when deciding if a conventional loan is the right choice.

What are FHA loans?

The Federal Housing Administration is a government organization that insures mortgage loans. They are designed to make homeownership more accessible to borrowers with lower credit scores and smaller down payments. FHA loans are available through approved lenders such as banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies.

Definition and Characteristics

A type of mortgage that the government guarantees is an FHA loan. It is specifically designed for first-time homebuyers or individuals with lower credit scores who may not qualify for conventional loans. FHA loans offer more flexible qualification criteria and lower down payment requirements than traditional loans.

Down Payment and Credit Score Requirements

FHA loans are known for their low down payment requirements. Borrowers can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price. This makes homeownership more accessible for individuals who may not have significant savings for a larger down payment.

Regarding credit score requirements, FHA loans are more lenient than conventional loans. Borrowers with a credit score of 580 or higher may be eligible for an FHA loan. This benefits individuals with lower credit scores who may need to improve their credit before qualifying for a conventional loan.

Interest rates and mortgage insurance

FHA loans typically have competitive interest rates, although they may be slightly higher than conventional ones. The interest rate will depend on the borrower's credit score, loan amount, and current market conditions.

FHA loans require borrowers to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and monthly mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). The UFMIP is usually added to the loan amount, while the MIP is included in the monthly mortgage payment. The MIP is required for the life of the loan unless the borrower refinances into a non-FHA loan.

Pros and cons

FHA loans offer several advantages for borrowers, such as a lower down payment requirement and more lenient credit score criteria. They also have competitive interest rates, making them an attractive option for individuals with lower credit scores or limited savings for a down payment.

However, FHA loans have their limitations. The government has set specific loan limits that may prevent borrowers from buying properties above a particular price range. FHA loans also have stricter appraisal standards and require mandatory mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Borrowers should carefully evaluate these pros and cons when considering an FHA loan.

Critical Differences Between Conventional and FHA Loans

In this section, we will explore the key differences between conventional loans and FHA loans. Understanding these differences can help borrowers decide when choosing the right loan option for their needs.

Loan Limits

Conventional loans generally have higher loan limits compared to FHA loans. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) determines the loan limits for conventional loans, which vary depending on the borrower's location. On the other hand, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets FHA loan limits, which vary by county.

Underwriting Guidelines

Conventional loans follow underwriting guidelines set by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These guidelines determine the eligibility criteria for borrowers, including factors such as credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and employment history. FHA loans have their own underwriting guidelines established by the FHA, which may be more lenient regarding credit score requirements.

Mortgage Insurance

Conventional loans may require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. However, once the borrower reaches a certain level of equity in the home, PMI can be canceled. On the other hand, FHA loans require both an upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and monthly mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) for the life of the loan.


Conventional loans are generally not assumable, meaning they cannot be transferred to another borrower. On the other hand, FHA loans are assumable, which means the loan can be transferred to another qualified borrower under certain conditions. This feature can benefit borrowers who may want to sell their homes.

Eligible Properties

Conventional loans can finance various properties, including primary residences, second homes, and investment properties. On the other hand, FHA loans are primarily intended for owner-occupied properties such as single-family homes, multi-unit properties (up to four units), and specific approved condominiums.

Which Loan is Right for You?

Choosing between a conventional loan and an FHA loan depends on several factors. Borrowers should consider their credit score, down payment capability, financial goals, loan limits in their area, and the property type they intend to purchase. Assessing these factors can help borrowers determine which loan option best fits their needs and situation.

Factors to consider

  1. Credit Score: Evaluate your credit score to see if it meets the requirements for both conventional and FHA loans. A higher credit score may make you eligible for better interest rates and more loan options.
  2. Down Payment Capability: Determine how much you can afford for a down payment. Conventional loans generally require a higher down payment, while FHA loans offer a lower down payment option.
  3. Financial Goals: Consider your long-term financial goals and how the mortgage loan fits into your overall financial plan. This includes monthly payment affordability and plans for future property ownership.
  4. Loan Limits: Research the loan limits in your area for conventional and FHA loans. This can impact the maximum loan amount you can qualify for.
  5. Property Type: Determine the type of property you intend to purchase. Conventional loans can be used for a broader range of property types, while FHA loans have restrictions on eligible properties.

How to Choose Between Conventional and FHA Loans

To choose between conventional and FHA loans, borrowers should evaluate their financial circumstances and priorities. Compare each loan type's down payment requirements, credit score criteria, interest rates, mortgage insurance costs, loan limits, and other associated factors. Seeking assistance from a knowledgeable mortgage professional can also provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the decision-making process.


Individuals must weigh numerous criteria while choosing between conventional and FHA loans. Both loan options have pros and cons, so consumers must weigh their finances, credit, and homeownership ambitions before choosing. Borrowers should examine their down payment, credit score, and property type before deciding.

FHA loans are available to applicants with lower credit scores and lower down payments, whereas conventional loans are better for individuals with higher credit scores and greater down payments. This decision-making process requires lender and mortgage specialist advice. They can explain the pros and cons of each loan option, letting consumers choose based on their specific requirements.

By carefully examining these criteria and receiving professional assistance, borrowers may choose the loan choice that best meets their financial objectives and helps them become homeowners.

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