Updated 2018 FHA Mortgage Guide What is an FHA Loan? An FHA loan is a mortgage that’s insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). They are popular especially among first time home buyers because they allow down payments of 3.5% for credit scores of 580+. However, borrowers must pay mortgage insurance premiums, which protects the lender if a borrower defaults.

If you live in a rural area you can get a USDA loan which has cheaper mortgage insurance rates than FHA loans do. On a $250,000 loan, mortgage insurance on a USDA loan is $100 less a month than FHA loans. Mortgage insurance will be required on most mortgages except for VA loans, and conforming loans with an LTV of 80% or less.

FHA mortgage loans don’t require PMI, but they do require an Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium and a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) to be paid instead. Depending on the terms and conditions of your home loan, most FHA loans today will require MIP for either 11 years or the lifetime of the mortgage.

FHA mortgage insurance is an extra way to protect FHA loans in case the borrower defaults on the loan. Find out what FHA MIP rates look like.

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What's the Difference Between PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance. – FHA mortgage insurance premiums, often referred to as MIP, are set by the Federal Housing Administration at different rates depending on the borrower’s loan-to-value ratio. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) applies to conventional loans obtained from a bank or direct lender, so costs can vary depending on where you shop.

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Mortgage insurance reimburses the lender if you default on your home loan. You, the borrower, pay the premiums. When sold by a company, it’s known as private mortgage insurance, or PMI. The FHA sells mortgage insurance, too.

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FHA loans require mortgage insurance premiums, but to avoid paying them for the life of the loan, consider making a down payment of over 10%. Get a better interest rate. Shop at least three.