Mortgages & Home Loans Financing Your Home Purchase Can You Buy a Foreclosure With an FHA Loan? You can use an FHA loan to buy a foreclosure—if you’re lucky By Dawn Papandrea Dawn Papandrea Twitter Website Dawn Papandrea is a credit card expert with 10+ years of experience covering credit cards, banking, and personal finance. Her reviews of credit cards and other financial products appear on The Balance and on personal finance sites elsewhere. Dawn earned her master's in journalism and mass communication from New York University and has a bachelor's in English from St. John's University. learn about our editorial policies Updated on June 23, 2022 Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Lea Uradu, J.D. is graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, a Maryland State Registered Tax Preparer, State Certified Notary Public, Certified VITA Tax Preparer, IRS Annual Filing Season Program Participant, Tax Writer, and Founder of L.A.W. Tax Resolution Services. Lea has worked with hundreds of federal individual and expat tax clients. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Ariana Chávez has over a decade of professional experience in research, editing, and writing. She has spent time working in academia and digital publishing, specifically with content related to U.S. socioeconomic history and personal finance among other topics. She leverages this background as a fact checker for The Balance to ensure that facts cited in articles are accurate and appropriately sourced. learn about our editorial policies In This Article View All In This Article Buying Foreclosures With FHA Loans Requirements for an FHA Loan Pros and Cons FHA Loan FAQs Photo: skynesher / Getty Images If you’re in the market for a home and planning to get a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, you can add foreclosures to your list of potential properties to consider. The FHA allows borrowers to use an FHA loan to purchase a home that’s in foreclosure. Find out more about how to buy a foreclosure with an FHA loan, what the rules are, and the pros and cons of taking this route. Can You Buy a Foreclosure With an FHA Loan? Yes, you can buy a foreclosure with an FHA loan. The FHA offers mortgages that allow borrowers—even those with less-than-perfect credit—to have down payments as low as 3.5%. Although there are stringent property requirements and potential downsides to an FHA loan compared to a conventional loan, buyers can use FHA loans to purchase a foreclosed home as long as the home meets FHA standards. What Are the Requirements for an FHA Loan? FHA loans require the borrower to meet criteria related to their ability to repay the loan, and the property to meet a specific standard. Here’s how the requirements work. Borrower Requirements Credit status: The FHA is one of the best loan programs for people who don't have great credit. If a borrower has a FICO score of 580 or higher, they can get approved for an FHA loan with only 3.5% down, as long as they meet the other criteria. But borrowers with FICO scores as low as 500 can still get FHA loans, although they may be required to commit a 10% down payment. Ability to repay: Lenders need to verify that borrowers have enough income to afford monthly mortgage payments. They’ll want to confirm that the borrower has a steady and stable job, and their debt-to-income ratio is less than 43%. The lender will review pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, and other documents. Must be an owner-occupant: FHA borrowers must live in the home as their primary residence, so you can’t get an FHA loan for an investment property. Down payment: Borrowers must be able to make at least a 3.5% down payment (or up to 10%, depending on your credit status). They need to have the cash on hand, qualify for a down-payment assistance program, or receive down payment help as a gift. Mortgage insurance payments: Borrowers will pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium, then will continue paying insurance for the life of the loan. If they put down 10% or more, the MIPs will end after 11 years. PMI payments may also stop automatically once the home's equity reaches a certain percentage of the loan value. If it is not automatic, a homeowner may request PMI to be stopped at such a point. Note that homeowner's insurance may be required by the lender for the entire life of the loan. Requirements for the Home An appraisal: To be approved for an FHA loan, the home must be appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser. Minimum property standards: The FHA requires certain minimum property standards, such as that the home is in livable condition and has structural integrity. Major fixer-uppers typically will not be approved for FHA loans. Note You may have a better chance at finding a foreclosed home that meets FHA standards if it’s a HUD-owned foreclosure. These homes were formerly owned by FHA borrowers, meaning the homes (at least at one time) were in tip-top shape. Plus, if you plan to occupy the property, you’ll get a head start on bidding before investors are allowed. Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosure With an FHA Loan Pros May find a good deal on a home that would otherwise be out of reach Provides an opportunity for borrowers with lower credit scores and a lower down payment to buy a home Cons Foreclosures still need to meet FHA property standards Competition with investors who may be able to pay cash Pros Explained May find a good deal on a home that would otherwise be out of reach: Foreclosure sales are usually priced lower than comparable homes for sale, so you may get lucky.Provides an opportunity for borrowers with lower credit scores and a lower down payment to buy a home: Combining the lower sale price of a foreclosure with the more flexible lending requirements of an FHA loan could be a big win for buyers with limited funds or fair credit. Cons Explained Foreclosures still need to meet FHA property standards: If repairs need to be made to a regular property, the buyer can negotiate with the seller. But that’s usually not possible with a foreclosure, since this type of home is sold “as is.” It could be harder to find a foreclosed home that will qualify for an FHA loan.Competition with investors who may be able to pay cash: Investors like to scoop up foreclosures and “flip” them for a future sale. Banks like getting cash in hand, since it presents less risk than taking on an FHA borrower. This combination could make it tough to close a sale. Note If a foreclosure home is in need of substantial repairs, an FHA 203(k) loan might be a better fit. This type of loan lets you borrow for both the home purchase and repair costs, and has similar requirements to an FHA loan. How Do You Apply for an FHA Loan? You apply for an FHA loan the same way you’d apply for any mortgage. Work with a lender that offers FHA loans and fill out an application to get started. You’ll have to supply documentation about your finances, including items such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns. You’ll also give permission for the lender to pull your credit score. How Do You Qualify for an FHA Loan? FHA loan qualifications can be a bit more flexible than those for conventional mortgages, making them an attractive option for first-time homebuyers and those with less-than-stellar credit. You’ll still have to meet minimum credit requirements, as well as other borrower and property criteria outlined above, including having stable employment, a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43%, and a prospective home that meets the FHA minimum standards. How Do You Get Rid of the PMI on an FHA Loan? FHA borrowers pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium, then continue paying monthly insurance for the life of the loan. The exception is if you are able to put down 10% or more when you buy the home. In that case, after 11 years, you will no longer have to make insurance payments. PMI will be stopped automatically by the lender, or it may be stopped at the borrower’s request, once the home equity reaches a certain percentage. How Much Are the Closing Costs on an FHA Loan? Expect that FHA loan closing costs will be approximately 3% to 4% of the total cost of the home you’re purchasing. Closing costs include your upfront mortgage insurance premium, as well as lender fees, attorney fees, title fees, and other costs. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Rocket Mortgage. "Can You Buy A Foreclosed Home With An FHA Loan?" U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Handbook 4000.1, FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbook," Page 1051. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. "203(b) Mortgage Insurance Program." U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Common Questions From First-Time Homebuyers."