Guide To Lenders
April 24, 2014

Compare FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac Mortgages

Francine L. Huff

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and FHA mortgage loans are some of the most commonly selected loans in the US. They are widely traded in the securities markets, the guidelines are uniform, can be quickly electronically underwritten, and may be wonderful options to buy a home or refinance an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) that has reset. Here is an overview of some of the loan programs available to home buyers.

FHA Loans

A loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer competitive rates to home buyers and down payments as low as 3% and may go even lower (legislation is pending to allow up to 100% FHA financing). FHA loans offer adjustable and fixed rates, so monthly payments don't need to change over the life of the loan. Home buyers who don't have the best credit scores may have an easier time qualifying for an FHA loan than a conventional mortgage because FHA looks at actual credit, not just the scores.

Because nearly 2 million ARMs are expected to reset in 2007, the agency launched the FHASecure refinancing program to help homeowners keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. Homeowners who are behind on payments to a non-FHA insured ARM that has already reset may qualify to refinance their mortgage through this program. FHA loans are administered by the Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and lenders who offer these loans are subject to strict oversight.

Freddie Mac (FRMC)

Freddie is a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), not a government agency. However, part of its mission is to increase homeownership and community development. By creating underwriting guidelines and selling loans to investors, Freddie Mac allows many people who would not be able to afford a new home to qualify for a mortgage.  Freddie Mac's automated underwriting system has helped reduce costs by $350 to $650 per loan, resulting in fewer upfront costs. And their guidelines ensure that one loan is essentially the same as another, making them easier to sell, cheaper to originate, and reducing discriminatory practices.

Fannie Mae (FNMA)

Fannie Mae, another GSE, was also created to bring about more affordable housing in communities throughout the U.S. Like Freddie Mac, it helps lenders sell mortgages by creating guidelines that commoditize loans and make them easier to sell. Then, lenders sell what they have and write more loans, helping more people become homeowners. This helps borrowers because it makes more products available and keeps costs down. Some of the mortgage products available through Fannie Mae lender partners are low-down payment loans, reverse mortgages for seniors, and second mortgages. Loans are also available for people looking to build a new home on land they purchase, as well as for buying existing homes that need renovations. 

If you want to buy a new home but aren't sure you'll qualify for your mortgage, it may be worth your time to investigate some of these loan programs. The right FHA, Fannie Mae, of Freddie Mac loan could help you achieve your dream of homeownership. 


Federal Housing Administration  

Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac

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