A new bill being floated by Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.) aims to lower the costs of obtaining an FHA loan, which have surged in recent months.
Back in April, the FHA’s upfront mortgage insurance premium increased from 1% to 1.75%. On a $200,000 loan, we’re talking about an increase of $1,500, which certainly isn’t incidental.
The change was implemented to bolster the FHA’s capital reserves, which were drained as a result of the ongoing mortgage crisis.
But clearly this has made FHA loans a lot less attractive to first-time homebuyers, many of which rely on the agency’s signature low-down payment loan program, which requires just 3.5% down.
Enter the Homeownership Preservation Education (HOPE) Act
To offset some of these new costs, Bass has proposed new legislation, namely, the “Homeownership Preservation Education (HOPE) Act.”
In short, it provides a 0.25% reduction on the FHA upfront mortgage insurance premium for first-time homebuyers who complete a HUD-approved housing counseling course.
On that same $200,000 loan referenced earlier, a borrower would save $500 in closing costs, making homeownership more attainable and a little less painful.
The general thinking behind the bill is that more educated homeowners default less often, which reduces foreclosures and losses for the FHA.
As a result, these types of buyers should be able to catch a break on the costly upfront mortgage insurance premium.
While it may seem minimal, every little bit helps because purchasing a home can deplete your assets very quickly.
Look at Mortgage Alternatives
While this bill is certainly well intentioned, first-time homebuyers should also consider other loan options, such as conventional loans.
Though you generally have to come up with 5% down, you won’t have to deal with the pesky FHA upfront mortgage insurance premium, which is now ridiculously high.
If possible, you may also want to consider getting a gift for a larger down payment, that way you can avoid mortgage insurance altogether.
So along with the HUD-approved homeowner education course, educate yourself on all your loan options well before applying for a loan.
Also be sure to take the time to review your credit report to ensure there are not any errors holding you back from securing a lower rate.
Putting in the time to do some housecleaning before applying for a mortgage is probably the best way to save money.
Read more: Which mortgage is right for me?