New FHA measures may cost home buyers

The Federal Housing Administration will raise mortgage insurance premiums, update requirements for so-called FICO credit scores and down payments for new home buyers and take other measures designed to shore up the agency’s low capital reserves.

The FHA, which insures mortgages, also will reduce allowable seller concessions to 3% from 6% and institute a number of measures to increase lender enforcement, the agency is expected to announce today.

The proposals were outlined last month by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.


Home buyers who want to make the minimum down payment of 3.5% on an FHA-insured loan would need a minimum FICO credit score of 580, instead of the current 500. New borrowers with scores under 580 would have to put down 10%. However, most participating lenders require borrowers to have a score of 620 or higher.

In addition, the FHA seeks to raise the upfront mortgage insurance premium to 2.25% from 1.75% of the loan amount.