FHA Mortgage Insurance: What is It?

A clip board with a FHA mortgage insurance written on a paper If you're looking to purchase a home but don't qualify for a conventional loan, FHA mortgage insurance may be the solution you need. FHA mortgage insurance is a type of insurance you need to pay upfront and every month. To qualify for an FHA loan, you'll need a minimum credit score of at least 580, and you'll also need to pay an upfront premium, typically 1.75% of the total loan. However, the annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) is generally lower for FHA loans, at around 0.85%. 

While FHA loans may require extra funds to pay for the upfront premium, they offer various loan options for single-family homes, making them a popular choice for homebuyers. Additionally, you may still qualify for an FHA loan if you don't qualify for a conventional loan. It's essential to remember that you'll need to pay a monthly MIP for the duration of your loan. Overall, FHA mortgage insurance can be an excellent option for those looking to buy a home who don't qualify for conventional loans.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Explanation

FHA mortgage insurance, or mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs), are fees charged by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to help protect FHA lenders from losses due to default on FHA-insured loans. The FHA mortgage insurance guidelines require borrowers to pay a premium in exchange for the FHA's guarantee on their loan. This premium is usually calculated as a percentage of the loan amount, typically split between an up-front premium and an ongoing monthly premium.

FHA Mortgage Insurance: How Does It Work?

FHA mortgage insurance involves upfront mortgage premiums (UPMP) and annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). UPMP is a one-time fee paid at closing and is 1.75% of the loan amount, and MIP is a monthly payment made by the borrower for the life of the loan.

FHA mortgage insurance guidelines require borrowers to pay .45% to 1.05% of the loan amount per year, depending on the loan characteristics. In addition, FHA mortgage coverage requirements must be met to qualify for FHA mortgage insurance premiums. These requirements include a minimum down payment of 3.5% of the loan amount and a minimum credit score of 580.

Benefits of FHA Mortgage Insurance

The Housing and Urban Development Department oversees the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and its mortgage insurance program, which provides lower premiums for FHA borrowers. This program allows homebuyers to make a lower down payment while still having access to FHA mortgage insurance guidelines and coverage requirements, including upfront and annual mortgage insurance payments or MIP.

The upfront MIP payment is typically included in the loan amount, and the annual premium is paid monthly. FHA home loans are popular among first-time homebuyers because they offer lower mortgage insurance premiums than conventional loans. This helps protect lenders against potential losses, making it easier to provide financing to those who might not qualify for traditional loans.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Requirements

The Federal Housing Administration sets FHA mortgage insurance rates to help protect lenders against potential losses that could occur when a borrower defaults on their mortgage loan. The FHA requires the borrower to pay annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP), usually as part of their monthly mortgage payment. The premiums are based on the borrowed loan amount of .80% to .85% of the loan amount. FHA mortgage insurance guidelines also require the lender to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1.75% of the loan amount.

FHA mortgage coverage requirements include an appraisal of the borrower's creditworthiness and determining their debt-to-income ratio to ensure that the borrower has the necessary funds to pay the mortgage insurance premiums. The FHA may also require the borrower to have reserves equal to one month's mortgage payment and other applicable criteria.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Rates

The Federal Housing Administration sets FHA mortgage insurance rates which can vary depending on the type of loan and the borrower's credit score. These premiums are paid upfront and included in the monthly mortgage payment. The FHA mortgage insurance guidelines require that all borrowers pay a minimum premium of 1.75% of the home's purchase price, and this premium can be as high as 3.5% for borrowers with lower credit scores. Additionally, FHA mortgage coverage requirements include a 30-year term, which must be paid in full at the end of the loan. The FHA mortgage insurance premium is a one-time fee and cannot be changed or canceled once paid.

This chart illustrates the monthly mortgage insurance costs based on a down payment, loan amount, and loan term.

FHA monthly mortgage insurance rates

Here's how the monthly mortgage insurance is calculated for an FHA loan:

30-year FHA Monthly MIP
1. Sales price $ 200,000
2. Less down payment (3.5%) $ 7,000
3. Base mortgage = $ 193,000
4. MIP percentage X .85%
5. Funding fee cost (this cost is typically financed with the loan) $1,640.50
6. Divided by 12 months equals monthly cost $136.71

Understanding FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The FHA requires mortgage lenders to adhere to specific guidelines and cover the risk by collecting FHA mortgage insurance premiums. FHA mortgage insurance premiums are typically split into an upfront fee and a monthly fee. The upfront fee is paid at the closing or included in the FHA mortgage, and the monthly fee is added to the borrower's monthly payment.

FHA Mortgage Insurance: How to Qualify

To qualify for FHA mortgage insurance, borrowers must meet the FHA mortgage insurance guidelines and requirements. They must have satisfactory credit, demonstrate financial stability, meet the debt-to-income ratio requirement, and purchase a primary residence.

Borrowers must also pay FHA mortgage insurance premiums, which are paid upfront and annually. The amount varies depending on the loan term and the amount of the down payment.

Additionally, FHA mortgage insurance coverage requirements must be met; this includes a minimum amount of mortgage insurance coverage for the life of the loan. Meeting these requirements is essential for any borrower seeking an FHA loan.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) vs. FHA Mortgage Insurance

FHA and PMI (private mortgage insurance) are both forms of coverage lenders required to provide mortgage financing. FHA mortgage insurance premiums are paid by the borrower and are required regardless of the down payment or credit score.

PMI is required for conventional mortgages when the borrower does not have a 20% down payment. The FHA mortgage insurance guidelines require FHA mortgage coverage for the life of the loan regardless of the home's equity amount. By contrast, PMI on conventional loans can be canceled when the home value reaches 78% of the original loan amount.


Homeownership is possible for many first-time homebuyers with an FHA loan, which requires a minimum down payment of just 3.5% of the home's purchase price.

However, there are FHA loan requirements to meet, such as maintaining an annual MIP (monthly mortgage insurance) currently set at 0.85% of the base loan amount. This is in addition to the upfront MIP of 1.75% of the base loan, which can also be financed into the total loan amount.

When purchasing a home, it's essential to consider the mortgage best suited for your financial situation. For those unable to make a down payment of less than or equal to 20%, mortgage insurance is typically required. In cases of an FHA loan, monthly mortgage insurance is mandatory throughout the life of the loan.

If you've already secured an FHA loan but would like to take advantage of lower mortgage rates or refinance for other reasons, it's crucial to understand the LTV (loan-to-value) ratio. Refinancing may require additional mortgage insurance if the current LTV is greater than 80%.

In summary, FHA mortgage insurance is vital in homeownership for many first-time buyers with limited resources. By understanding the associated costs and requirements, individuals can make informed decisions about purchasing or refinancing a home with an FHA loan.


Recommended Reading
Compare PMI & MIP: What's the Difference?
Get the Facts About Private Mortgage Insurance in PA
FHA Loans in PA: Homebuyer Tips and Requirements

If you found this information useful, please tell a friend.