Gift Rules for Down-Payment Sources Guidelines on FHA Mortgage Programs
One of the biggest obstacles to buying a home for Americans is the down payment. There was a time when you needed a 20% down payment and a high credit score to buy a home. But in 2019, you can buy a home with average to below-average credit and low down payment in some cases. One of the most popular loan programs for these buyers if the FHA loan. A major advantage of the FHA mortgage loan is you can get approved with only a 3.5% down payment with a 580 or higher credit score. If you have a lower score than that, you need a 10% down payment.
Still, there are situations where the borrower is having trouble coming up with the down payment for the loan. What to do then? FHA guidelines do allow other options. Keep reading to learn more.
More on FHA Down Payments and Approved Sources
As we noted above, you are required to have at least a 3.5% down payment to be approved for an FHA loan. The money must be verified by the FHA-approved lender to come from an ‘approved source.’ What is an approved source, anyway? Most people get their down payment from cash reserves, investments, borrow from 401k or IRA, etc. The idea behind verifying where the money came from is to make sure the borrower did not get the down payment from a credit card or payday loan, etc.
But there are other options for your down payment. The funds also can come from a gift. The gift and the giver do need to meet FHA requirements, but this flexible guideline makes it possible to get into an FHA loan with, technically, zero money down. To determine if the down payment gift can be used or not, it is necessary to check HUD rules. According to HUD 41.55.1 Chapter 5 Section B, for the funds to be a gift, there cannot be any expected repayment of the money.
Also, FHA will scrutinize the giver of the gift. Chapter 5 of the HUD Code states the cash gift is OK if it comes from your relative; employer or labor union; close friend with a defined interest in you; charitable organization; government agency or public entity.
FHA also states who cannot give gift funds to you for the down payment. These are the seller; the real estate agent or broker on the deal; the builder or an associated entity.
Gift Terms Explained
The gift for your down payment cannot be made based upon paying it back later. You are required to get a gift letter from the person or organization. The letter should state that you are not required to pay the money back. It also should provide the contact information for the borrower, such as name, address, and phone number. Also included should be the bank account from which the funds will be sent.
The gift donor should be OK with giving a bank statement with the letter. Also, he or she should ensure that the transfer amount matches what is in the gift letter and what is deposited into your account.
FHA rules are very specific on these areas to ensure that the home buying process through FHA is fair and just. But as long as you follow the FHA rules, you should be able to get help with your down payment from a friend or relative.
Don’t Have Friends or Family Who Can Help?
Not every borrower has friends or family who can give them a gift for their down payment. But HUD lists many government programs spread throughout the country in most states that can offer down payment and closing cost help for certain borrowers.
It also is worth checking if your employer and state have employer-assisted housing. This program can help people with moderate incomes to get a loan to cover closing costs and down payment. Look up FHA in your state on Google to see what is available.