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If you’ve heard people talk about "subject-to" real estate, you might be curious what that means and if it would be a good investment for you. Briefly, "subject-to" real estate means you’re buying the property but the loan on that property stays in the name of the existing seller. You’re making your purchase "subject-to" the existing mortgage or lien.

Why Would Someone Buy Real Estate This Way?

When you buy a "subject-to" property, you don’t have to get a mortgage in your own name. That can be perfect for people who don’t want to tie up their credit or funds. It also works well for those who might not be able to qualify for an existing mortgage. Since you’re not putting your name on anything that involves the mortgage, you’re free and clear from that standpoint. But you’ll own the house, and you’ll make the mortgage payments.

Is This a Good Wealth-Building Tool?

This can be a great tool to build wealth when it’s used correctly. It’s very important that you continue making the seller’s mortgage payments on time, and that you get everything in writing. But since you don’t have to qualify for a mortgage yourself, you can choose great properties that people really want to sell. Often, this is because the owner is in foreclosure. By buying the property "subject-to", the owner doesn’t have to go through foreclosure proceedings and have that on their credit report.

How Much Risk is Involved in This?

As with any type of investment, there is always risk. The biggest concern is that the seller of the property will file for bankruptcy. When that happens, the house could be included in that filing and would be foreclosed upon by the lender. You could lose your investment, since you aren’t the one who has the property’s mortgage in your name. Another risk is the due-on-sale clause in the seller’s mortgage. Almost all mortgages have these, but they’re often not enforced. Still, if the lender wanted to enforce that clause, they could demand that the entire mortgage be paid if the deed transfers into your name.

How Many "Subject-to" Properties Can Someone Own?

Theoretically, there’s no limit to the number of "subject-to" properties that you could own. As long as you can make the payments, you can keep buying these properties. You don’t need any credit to get started, and you won’t really need much cash, either. You’ll simply have to be willing to take a little bit of risk to build up your real estate portfolio. With that in mind, though, it’s not a bad idea to have an attorney help you, at least right at first, to be sure you’re protecting yourself and the seller as much as possible.

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If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.

This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.

Does the FHA issue loans?

Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.

Will I have to make a down payment?

With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.

What are the benefits of an FHA loan?

The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:

  • You can qualify with a low credit score

  • You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages

  • Your closer costs will be less expensive

Where do I apply for an FHA loan?

You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.

Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?

There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.

Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?

No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.

How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?

You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.

If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.

What information will I need to apply?

You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.

I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?

Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.

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