Understanding 7 Common Types of Real Estate Loans

To be a truly outstanding real estate agent, you need to be a source of information for your clients. That means being able to advise them on everything about the home-buying process. This includes the different loan options that are available to them. Understanding common types of real estate loans empowers you to guide your clients towards the financing solution that best suits their needs and goals.  

7 Common Types of Real Estate Loans

Knowing the different types of loans can be key to understanding how potential homeowners may achieve their dream. Let’s examine seven common types of real estate loans and discuss how they can benefit home buyers and sellers alike. Having a firm grasp on the various loan products available is essential for success in real estate.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage Loan 

A fixed-rate mortgage loan is a type of home loan in which the interest rate remains constant throughout the entire repayment term. This means that a borrower’s monthly mortgage payments will remain the same over the life of the loan. This helps provide predictability and stability. 

One of the key advantages of a fixed-rate mortgage is that it shields borrowers from potential interest rate fluctuations in the market. Even if interest rates rise significantly in the future, the borrower’s interest rate and monthly payment will remain unchanged. This stability makes it easier for home buyers to budget and plan their finances over the long-term.  

Fixed-rate mortgage loans are typically offered with repayment terms of 15, 20, or 30 years, although other term lengths may be available. The longer the term, the lower the monthly payments, but the total interest paid over the life of the loan will be higher. Conversely, shorter-term loans have higher monthly payments but result in less interest paid overall.  

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Loan

An adjustable-rate mortgage loan, often referred to as an ARM, is a type of home loan where the interest rate is not fixed and can fluctuate based on market interest rates. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate on an ARM can move up and down during the repayment term. 

ARMs typically have an initial fixed-rate period, during which the interest rate remains constant for a specified period of time, which can range from 3-10 years. The rate during this period is generally lower than the rates offered for fixed-rate mortgages. After the initial fixed-rate period expires, the interest rate on an ARM will adjust on a yearly basis.  

The advantage of an ARM is that during the initial fixed-rate period, borrowers can enjoy lower monthly mortgage payments compared to a fixed-rate mortgage. This can be particularly appealing to first-time homebuyers or individuals with budget constraints who are looking for more affordable options in the early years of homeownership. However, interest rates on an ARM are subject to change. If market interest rates rise, borrowers may experience an increase in their monthly mortgage payment, which can pose financial challenges for homeowners if they have a tight budget or if they are unprepared for potential rate increases. 

Conventional Real Estate Loan

A conventional mortgage loan is not insured or guaranteed by any government agency. Instead, it is typically offered by banks and private lenders. Conventional loans are ideal for borrowers who have good or excellent credit and good debt-to-income ratio, as their creditworthiness plays a significant role in loan approval.  

While well-qualified buyers can put as little as a 3% down payment with conventional loans, these loans have stricter qualification criteria compared to government-backed loans, and buyers will need excellent credit to receive the best interest rates. 

One of the primary advantages of a conventional loan is its flexibility. While government-backed loans often have specific eligibility requirements and restrictions, conventional loans offer more options and fewer limitations. Borrowers can use conventional loans to finance various types of properties, including primary residences, second homes, and investment properties. 

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Mortgage Insurance Program

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which operates within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Borrowers with FHA loans pay for mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in the event of borrower default. This insurance increases the borrower’s monthly payments, and the lender must be FHA-approved in order to qualify. 

While it’s commonly thought that FHA loans are only for first-time buyers, FHA loans are actually available to many buyers. They are popular due to their low down payment requirement, often as little as 3.5 percent of the home price. Additionally, FHA loans have more lenient lending standards compared to conventional loans. However, borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify.  

Overall, FHA loans provide a great option for buyers who may not qualify for conventional loans or who have limited funds for a down payment. The low down payment requirement, combined with more lenient lending standards, makes homeownership more achievable for a broader range of individuals and families.  

Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan

 VA loans are exclusively offered to military service members and their families, and are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Should the borrower default on the loan, the VA reimburses the lender for any losses. 

To qualify for a VA loan, borrowers must meet certain criteria. This includes having suitable credit, demonstrating sufficient income to afford the loan payments, and obtaining a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE is a document that verifies the borrower’s eligibility for the VA loan benefit. Meeting specific service requirements, which can vary depending on the length and nature of the borrower’s military service, obtains it.Generally, the borrower must have served for a minimum period of time and must not have received a dishonorable discharge. 

One of the significant advantages of VA loans is the option for 100-percent financing. Eligible borrowers can finance the entire purchase price of the home without the need for a down payment. This feature sets VA loans apart from other types of mortgages and can be especially beneficial for borrowers who may have difficulty saving for a down payment or who prefer to allocate their funds toward other expenses.  

In addition to 100-percent financing, VA loans offer several other benefits. These include competitive interest rates, no private mortgage insurance (PMI) requirement, and the ability to negotiate with sellers for the payment of certain closing costs. VA loans also provide flexibility in terms of property types 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loan

The USDA provides a loan program through the Rural Housing Service (RHS).This program aims to assist rural borrowers with modest incomes who may face challenges in securing affordable housing through conventional financing options 

To qualify for a USDA loan, borrowers must meet certain income requirements. Borrowers’ income should not exceed 115% of the adjusted area median income in the county where they intend to purchase a property.  

In addition to income limits, USDA loans require the property to be located in an eligible rural area. The USDA defines rural areas based on population size and density. The exact boundaries of eligible areas may change over time. They generally include small towns, rural communities, and some suburban areas that meet the criteria set by the USDA. 

It’s important to note that USDA loans serve as a form of homeownership assistance. This applies to primary residences only. These loans are an excellent option for individuals and families in rural areas who may not qualify for conventional financing. This could be due to income limitations or lack of available down payment funds.  

Jumbo Loan

A jumbo mortgage loan exceeds the conforming loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises. These loans are typically used for high-priced properties and require larger down payments and higher credit scores. Jumbo loans often have slightly higher interest rates due to their higher risk nature. 

One of the defining characteristics of jumbo loans is their higher loan amount. Since they exceed the conforming loan limits, jumbo loans enable borrowers to finance luxury homes, high-end properties, or homes in expensive real estate markets. The specific loan limit for jumbo loans varies by region, and it is important for borrowers to consult local loan limit guidelines to determine if their loan amount falls into the jumbo loan category. 

Spend some time brushing up on the common types of real estate loans available to your clients. That way, you’ll be able to answer their questions when they ask you about different home loan types. By investing in your education, you will provide exceptional service and support to your clients throughout their home buying journey. 

Interested in pursuing a real estate career? Earn your real estate license online with Colibri Real Estate School. Need help preparing for your state licensing exam? Register for our Real Estate License Exam prep course. Contact us today to learn more and get started.  

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