Len and Leslie Marma | Marshfield Real Estate, Scituate Real Estate, Pembroke Real Estate


If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.

This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.

In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.

Does the FHA issue loans?

Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.

Will I have to make a down payment?

With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.

What are the benefits of an FHA loan?

The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:

  • You can qualify with a low credit score

  • You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages

  • Your closer costs will be less expensive

Where do I apply for an FHA loan?

You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.

Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?

There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.

Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?

No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.

How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?

You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.

If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.

What information will I need to apply?

You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.

I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?

Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.


Water features aren’t just limited to the outdoors, anymore. You can bring the calming serenity of a soft stream into your home to give a more relaxing atmosphere. They can also be used as room dividers, conversation pieces, or as a simple decoration.

Wall Fountains

One of the most common ideas for indoor water features is the wall fountain. They add a soothing, bubbling sound and make the room appealing without consuming too much floor space. Most times, wall fountains work well in homes with rich, natural textures like natural stone walls and native, wood flooring and evoke a luxurious style without breaking the bank.

Indoor Water Streams

A water stream running through the floor can give your home a sophisticated edge. Moving water also comes with a calming effect. This type of water feature requires a vast amount of surface area so movement isn’t obstructed. One option to preserve your floor space is to cover the stream with glass.

Indoor Waterfalls

Another good indoor water feature idea is an indoor waterfall. With an indoor waterfall, you can transform an ordinary room into a beautiful and classy setting. It is best to place indoor waterfalls close to accent walls and close to natural lighting to ensure that you get all the beautiful, glistening effects from the water.

Indoor Ponds

With an indoor pond, you can make a perfect spot to relax and unwind. You can place indoor ponds in your entry, your sunroom, or any other central area in the home as long as it doesn’t obstruct the walkway.

Free-Standing Water Features

You can add a beautiful water feature, even in the smallest of rooms, in the form of a table-top or wall mounted fixture. A free-standing water feature is available in a variety of styles and sizes, and it can be set up without the hassle of remodeling.

Best Places to Install an Indoor Water Feature

Indoor water features bring elegance to your bedroom, living room, hallway, bathroom, or kitchen. Ponds, streams, and waterfalls are great for the living room where many people can admire them. Under the staircase is another ideal place to install a waterfall in your home if it happens to be open. If you are buying a free-standing water feature, make it a focal point so that it occupies center stage.

Water features can be a significant improvement to your home, increasing its buyer appeal and sale value. Need a little assistance in finding the right feature for your home? Contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction.


Ready to submit a home loan application? Ultimately, there are many factors to consider before you finalize your submission, and these include:

1. Your Outstanding Debt

If you have outstanding student loan, car or other debt, you should try to pay it off as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can boost your chances of securing a home loan that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Take a look at your outstanding debt and make a plan to pay down your bills. With a plan in place, you may be able to reduce or eliminate outstanding debt before you complete your home loan application.

2. Your Credit Score

A strong credit score will help a homebuyer get a terrific home loan. Conversely, an inferior credit score is unlikely to do you any favors after you submit a home loan application.

Learn about your credit score before you finalize your home loan application. Then, you can allocate the necessary time and resources to boost your credit score or correct any errors on your credit report.

You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can understand where your credit score currently stands.

Also, if you find any errors on your credit report, contact the credit reporting bureau that provided the report immediately. This will allow you to correct any credit report mistakes and reduce the risk that these errors could impact your ability to secure a home loan.

3. Your Savings

It never hurts to save money, especially if you'd like to purchase a home in the near future. If you start saving today, you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to have the necessary finances in place for a down payment on a house.

In most instances, lenders will require you to have at least a small portion of the purchase price of a home available for a down payment. If you have thousands of dollars available for a down payment, you may be able to boost your chances of getting a "Yes" from a lender after you submit your home loan application.

Getting a home loan may seem like a long, arduous process. Fortunately, many lenders are available to help you secure a great home loan.

Meet with several lenders as you explore all of your home loan options. That way, you can learn about a broad array of home loan options and choose a home loan that matches your finances perfectly.

After you secure a home loan, you'll be able to move one step closer to securing your dream residence. Of course, if you need assistance during the homebuying journey, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent as well.

A real estate agent will do everything possible to help you acquire a top-notch residence at an affordable price. Thus, if you employ a real estate agent, you may be able to enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.


Photo by Alexander Stein via Pixabay

When it comes to a mortgage, most of us think of the same standard product; the 15 or 30 year conventional mortgage offered by banks and lenders. This is not the only mortgage option you have, though. Depending on your personal history and circumstances you may qualify for an attractive mortgage with lower rates and a small down payment. Examining your options and determining if you qualify for a less common type of mortgage allows you to have the greatest amount of flexibility and more options when it comes to your new home. Learning more about the different types of mortgages ensures you get the best possible terms when it comes to this significant purchase.

FHA, VA and USDA Loans: Explore your Mortgage Options

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is one that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration; if the buyer was to default or fail to pay, the FHA would pay the lender instead. Because of this guarantee, lenders are able to offer mortgages with less rigid requirements and accept more potential risk. FHA loans benefit the borrower in several key ways; they offer low down payments, credit score requirements of just 620 and that FHA guarantee for lenders. There are income guidelines and limits for the amount that can be borrowed, so you should check to see if your potential loan qualifies. A fast and easy approval process makes this a good option for many borrowers, though you should note PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) is required and adds an additional amount to your monthly bill. 

USDA Loans

Often the most overlooked and misunderstood, a USDA loan is backed by the Department of Agriculture in the same way an FHA loan is backed by the Housing Administration. USDA loans are designed to help people in rural and suburban areas become homeowners and offer attractive rates and very low closing costs and down payments. If you are looking for a mortgage, it is worth checking your eligibility. Both your income and the home you are considering need to be eligible, but since an estimated 90% of the homes in the country qualify, USDA could be the right product for you.

VA Loans

A VA loan is backed by the Veteran's Administration and is available to active members and veterans of the US armed forces. This is the most attractive alternative to conventional loans of all, if you qualify. Designed to make it easy for service members to buy a home, this loan features little or no down payment, easy lending guidelines and appealing rates for veterans. If you qualify, the VA loan is an excellent option for your new home. 

Learning about your options makes it easy to find the right home mortgage for your situation. Chances are, you will qualify for one or more of the loan types above; you should compare the terms of the FHA, USDA or VA loan you are considering with a conventional mortgage to make the best possible choice for your new home purchase. 


Photo by: Allie Smith via Unsplash

During home decoration, it is natural to have one or more blank walls that leave you asking yourself: "What am I going to do with that?" You may get frustrated, but don't worry, you are not alone — barren walls are likely driving other homeowners crazy, too. What’s the solution? A fresh coat of ideas.

Below are some blank wall ideas that don't just cover the space but do so with a touch of beauty.


Add a Map

A blank wall in any room can be annoying, especially in a bedroom. Rather than waking up every morning to a bare wall, you can put a map on it. You can use the map of the United States, the world or any other destination you find inviting. If you place the map over cork, you can put pins in all the locations you’ve been to or the ones you want to see next. Have kids? Try putting a map on the blank wall in their room. It not only makes it beautiful but also provides a fun way to learn.


Hang Your Accessories

Don't allow your beautiful accessories to hide behind the closet doors. Show off your cloches, skimmers, berets, and trilbies on decorative hooks on your blank wall of choice. If you aren’t a hat-lover, you can hang a statement necklace for a dazzling effect.


Make Attractive Storage Options

Do you have limited storage in your home? Those blank walls could be the answer. Use your imagination to make an impressive design with floating shelves to store extra dishware in the kitchen or a favorite collection in the living area. If you get stuck on your design, there are plenty of DIY articles across the Internet, or you can get a consult from a home staging expert.


Create a Graffiti Wall

An easy DIY wall project is using graffiti. If you are the creative type, take the opportunity to show off your artistic skills. You could also hire someone to sketch a design on your blank wall. Another way to achieve the graffiti look is to buy graffiti mural wallpaper or wall decals. The decals are easily removable for when you’re ready to sell your home.


Give It a Dramatic Color

If you’re looking for a simpler way to make use of the wall, try creating an accent wall. Consider painting it with a geometric design, horizontal stripes or a bold, contrasting color. Painting is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to make a blank wall fun.


Decorate with Plants

A blank wall in a bathroom may be less of a worry, but you can use that opportunity to cultivate a mini-garden. A mini-garden in the bathroom? Absolutely. Hanging plants on the wall of your bathroom will help purify the air while steam from the shower keeps them hydrated.


Any season is an excellent opportunity to do an easy DIY wall project. Check out popular home design blogs or speak to an interior designer for more ideas on how to beautify your home.




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