FHA Streamline Refinance guidelines are changing. For the better.
In an effort to improve its loan portfolio, the FHA is loosening approval standards on its popular refinance program, rendering large groups of homeowners suddenly FHA Streamline-eligible.
Now, that may seem counter-intuitive — lowering qualification standards in order to reduce loan defaults — but in the FHA’s case, it makes complete sense. It’s because the FHA doesn’t make loans. It insures them. What’s good for FHA-insured homeowners is good for the FHA, therefore.
All things equal, lower housing payments for its insured homeowners should correlate to fewer FHA loan defaults nationwide.
One interesting facet of the FHA’s new rulebook is the manner in which the government group is applying common sense to the approval process. So long as the homeowner is current on their mortgage and there’s a demonstrable benefit in the refinance, the FHA reasons, there’s good reason to insure the new loan.
The FHA defines “current on the mortgage” as being up-to-date on payments, and having zero 30-, 60-, or 90-day lates within the last 12 months. Demonstrating benefit is a little more tricky.
According the FHA, “benefit” is defined by refinance type.
When refinancing any fixed rate mortgage, or an existing ARM to a new ARM, the borrower’s new monthly (principal + interest) + (mortgage insurance premium) must be 5% or more below the current levels to meet the FHA’s minimum benefit requirements.
The refinance of any ARM to a fixed rate mortgage is considered an acceptable benefit.
Beyond that, Streamline Refinance guidelines are simple:
- Income is not verified, or required
- Employment is not verified, or required
- Assets are not verified, unless required to meet closing costs
Note that an appraisal is not required, either This allows “underwater” homeowners to refinance their FHA-insured home loan without penalty. The downside is that without an appraisal, the new loan size may not exceed the current principal balance plus the FHA’s 1% upfront mortgage premium. All other charges must be paid as cash at closing.
The FHA Streamline program is a refinance program special to FHA-insured homeowners. To confirm your own eligibility, check with your lender.