Are FHA Loans Assumable? A Guide for Homebuyers

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In today’s high-interest mortgage market, finding affordable homebuying options is more challenging than ever. As you navigate the complex world of home loans, one term you might have come across is “assumable loan.” Specifically, FHA loans, known for their lower down payment and credit score requirements, often come into focus. But are these loans assumable?

For home shoppers like you, exploring the possibility of assuming an FHA loan could be a game changer. It might offer a path to homeownership with potentially lower interest rates and monthly payments.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, understanding FHA loan assumption could unlock new opportunities for affordable home buying.

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What is an assumable loan?

An assumable loan is a type of mortgage that can be transferred from a home seller to a buyer. This means as a buyer, you have the opportunity to take over the seller’s existing mortgage, along with its current interest rate, repayment period, and remaining balance. Essentially, you step into the shoes of the seller, continuing the mortgage under its original terms.

This feature of assumable loans can be particularly attractive in a market where interest rates are rising, as it might allow you to inherit a lower rate than what’s currently available. Additionally, assuming a loan can sometimes offer a more streamlined process compared to securing a new mortgage, potentially saving you time and money.

For example, assuming a $400,000 loan at a 3% interest rate versus getting a new loan at an 8% interest rate represents $1,250 per month in savings.

It’s important to note, however, that not all mortgage types are assumable. The specifics, including eligibility and process, vary depending on the type of loan and the lender’s requirements.

Are FHA loans assumable?

Yes, FHA loans are assumable. This is a significant feature that sets them apart from many other types of mortgages. An FHA loan, which is insured by the Federal Housing Administration, can be transferred from the seller to the buyer, allowing you to take over the existing loan terms.

This means, if you’re considering purchasing a home with an existing FHA loan, you may have the option to assume the mortgage along with its existing interest rate, remaining balance, and repayment period. This can be particularly advantageous in a market where current mortgage rates are higher than the rate on the assumable loan.

However, it’s important to understand that while FHA loans are assumable, not every FHA loan will necessarily qualify for assumption. There are specific requirements and processes set by the FHA and the lender that must be met. This includes creditworthiness checks and approval by the lender.

What are the requirements to assume an FHA loan?

Assuming an FHA loan can be a great opportunity, but it comes with specific requirements that both the buyer and the property must meet. Understanding these requirements will help you determine whether you can take over an FHA loan. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Creditworthiness: Just like with a new loan, your credit history and score will be evaluated. The lender needs to ensure that you’re financially capable of taking on the mortgage payments. You’ll need to meet the lender’s credit criteria, which may vary but typically include having a credit score of at least 580 and a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 43% or less.
  • Loan eligibility: Not all FHA loans are eligible for assumption. Loans originated before a certain date may have different eligibility criteria. (See box below.) It’s important to verify the origination date of the FHA loan to determine what’s required to move forward.
  • Owner-occupancy requirement: FHA loans often require the property to be your primary residence. If you’re planning to assume an FHA loan, you’ll likely need to live in the home.
  • Approval from the lender: In most cases, the current lender must approve the loan assumption. This involves an application process. As the Federal Housing Administration explains, “The person assuming the FHA loan should prepare for the transaction the way any home buyer would for a typical loan application.”
  • Assumption agreement: Both parties, the seller and the buyer, must enter into a loan assumption agreement. This legal document outlines the terms and conditions of the assumption and transfers the responsibility of the mortgage from the seller to the buyer.
  • Payment of fees: There will likely be fees associated with assuming an FHA loan. These can include processing fees, credit report fees, and other administrative costs.

Why does the original FHA loan date matter?

According to the Federal Housing Administration, “If the loan application was signed by the borrower before Dec. 1, 1986, the FHA-insured mortgage generally contains no restrictions on assumability.” This means an FHA loan that meets this standard is “freely assumable” with fewer restrictions For FHA loans issued after Dec. 1, 1986, the lender’s participation is required.

What is the process to assume an FHA loan?

Assuming an FHA loan involves a series of steps that require careful attention to detail and coordination with various parties. Here’s a general outline of the process:

1. Find a home: Start by finding homes with assumable FHA loans. This can be done through searching traditional real estate listings or by working with a Realtor.

2. Confirm loan assumability: Verify that the FHA loan you wish to assume is indeed assumable. You can do this by reviewing the original loan agreement or contacting the lender.

3. Apply for assumption: Contact the lender of the existing FHA loan and apply for the assumption. This will typically involve filling out an application and providing necessary financial documents, similar to a standard mortgage application.

4. Credit and background check: The lender will conduct a credit and background check to assess your creditworthiness. This step is crucial as it determines your eligibility to assume the loan.

5. Undergo lender evaluation: The lender will evaluate your financial situation to ensure you meet the necessary criteria for loan assumption, including income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score.

6. Negotiate terms with the seller: If you’re eligible to assume the loan, negotiate the terms of the assumption with the seller. This might include the assumption fee, any equity payment to the seller, and other related terms.

7. Sign the assumption agreement: Once the terms are agreed upon, you and the seller will sign an assumption agreement. This legally binding document transfers the mortgage obligation from the seller to you.

8. Pay required fees: Be prepared to pay any assumption-related fees. These can include a processing fee, credit report fee, and potentially other administrative charges.

9. Finalize the transaction: After signing the agreement and paying the necessary fees, the lender will finalize the loan assumption. This step marks the completion of the transfer, and you will now be responsible for the mortgage payments.

10. Record the transaction: Lastly, ensure that the loan assumption is recorded with the appropriate government or housing authority. This step officially recognizes you as the new borrower on the mortgage.

Remember, while the process might seem straightforward, it’s essential to work closely with real estate professionals, legal advisors, and the lender to ensure everything is conducted correctly and efficiently.

How can I find an assumable FHA mortgage?

Finding an assumable FHA mortgage requires a bit of research and networking, but it can be a rewarding endeavor. Here are some steps to help you locate a suitable assumable FHA loan:

1. Real estate agents: Start by talking to an experienced real estate agent. They often have access to listings and may know of properties with assumable FHA loans. Make sure to specify your interest in assumable loans when discussing your homebuying preferences.

2. Online listings: Search through online real estate listings. Some websites allow you to filter for homes with assumable mortgages. Keep an eye out for listings that mention an assumable FHA loan.

3. Search loan assumption websites: For a focused search, visit real estate service sites like Roam that specialize in identifying home listings with low-interest-rate assumable mortgages. In addition, some parts of the country have regional sites that break out assumable mortgage listings, such as these examples in Washington and Portland.

4. Partner with an assumption service: Specialized consulting firms like Assumption Solutions and Take List can help homebuyers, sellers, and their agents complete a successful loan assumption.

5. Networking: Word-of-mouth can sometimes lead to unexpected opportunities. Let friends, family, and colleagues know you’re interested in assuming an FHA loan.

6. Local real estate investor groups: Join local real estate investor groups or online forums. Members often share insights about available properties and might know of homes with assumable FHA loans.

Pros and cons of assuming an FHA loan

Assuming an FHA loan can be an attractive option for many homebuyers, but it’s important to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages before proceeding. Here’s an overview to help you make an informed decision:


  • Lower interest rates: If the existing FHA loan has a lower interest rate than what’s currently available, assuming the loan could lead to significant savings over time.
  • Cost savings: Assuming a loan often involves lower closing costs compared to obtaining a new mortgage. This can reduce the upfront expenses of buying a home.
  • Simpler approval process: The process for assuming a loan can be simpler and less stringent than qualifying for a new mortgage, which can be beneficial if you have concerns about your credit history.
  • Avoiding new mortgage insurance premiums: With FHA loans, assuming an existing loan might allow you to avoid or reduce mortgage insurance premiums, especially if the original loan had a substantial down payment.
  • Appraisal may be optional: When assuming an FHA mortgage, the original lender often does not require a new appraisal, which can be an additional cost savings.


  • Credit approval required: You still need to meet the lender’s credit and income requirements, which might not be significantly different from qualifying for a new loan.
  • Limited availability: Not all homes for sale will have an assumable FHA loan, limiting your options in the housing market.
  • Responsibility for loan terms: You take over the loan as-is, which means any terms, such as adjustable rates or remaining duration, are now your responsibility.
  • Potential for seller’s high equity: As with any home purchase, you need to be financially ready. If the seller has a high amount of equity in the home, you will need to pay them for it, which could require additional financing or cash upfront.

Budgeting in funds to pay off the seller’s equity

As noted above, you will need to compensate the seller for the equity they’ve built up in the property. This is a combination of home appreciation and what they have paid off on their FHA loan. These funds are part of the overall purchase price and might come from your own personal savings or be financed through a separate loan. This is similar to any home purchase, you’ll want to plan for the upfront money you need to close the deal.

Here is how the equity payoff might play out: Let’s say you buy a $500,000 home from a seller who has an outstanding mortgage balance of $300,000. This means they have $200,000 worth of equity stake. You will need to pay the seller that $200,000 at closing.

How much does it cost to assume an FHA loan?

The cost of assuming an FHA loan typically falls between 2% and 5% of the home’s sale price. Using a median home price of $400,000, and a mid-range estimate of 3%, you might pay $12,000 in closing costs.

However, closing costs can vary depending on your location, with some states having higher rates due to local tax structures.

The expenses associated with an assumable FHA loan include the upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and prepayments like required homeowners’ insurance, property taxes, and any lender service fees. Additionally, an initial deposit into an escrow account may be required.

For an accurate estimate tailored to your situation, it’s advisable to consult with a loan officer who can provide a detailed breakdown of the expected costs.

What other mortgage loans are assumable?

While FHA loans are known for being assumable, they are not the only type of mortgage with this feature. Several other mortgage types also offer the option of assumption, each with its own set of rules and conditions. Here are the key ones to consider:

  • VA loans: Loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are assumable. These loans are available to veterans, active-duty service members, and certain military spouses. A major advantage of assuming a VA loan is the potential to inherit favorable interest rates without being a veteran yourself.
  • USDA loans: Mortgages issued through the USDA loan program, aimed at rural homebuyers, are also assumable. However, similar to FHA loans, they come with specific eligibility criteria and require lender approval.
  • Some adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs): ARMs, whether they are FHA, VA, or conventional, can have assumable options. However, the variable nature of these loans’ interest rates means that the financial benefits of assumption can be less predictable.
  • Other loan types: If a loan doesn’t fall into these categories, it’s best to work with the seller and their lender. The lender can provide specific information about the assumability of the loan. Under the right circumstances, some jumbo loans may even be assumable.

Most conventional loans offered by private lenders (typically backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) are not automatically assumable. This is because conventional loan agreements usually contain a “due on sale” clause that requires the mortgage to be paid in full when the original borrower sells the house. Some exceptions can be found, such as in a divorce or after a death. These contracts might have an “assumption clause” that allows more flexibility.

Should I assume an FHA loan to buy a house?

Deciding whether to assume an FHA mortgage loan is a significant decision that hinges on your individual financial circumstances and the specific details of the loan in question. Here are some key factors to consider before making your choice:

  • Current vs. original loan rates: Compare the interest rate of the assumable FHA loan with current market rates. If the assumable loan offers a significantly lower rate, it could lead to substantial savings over the life of the loan.
  • Costs and fees: Evaluate the total costs of assuming the loan, including paying off the seller’s home equity, closing costs, and any additional fees. These should be weighed against the costs of obtaining a new mortgage.
  • Your financial health: Assess your creditworthiness and financial stability. Remember, you must meet the lender’s requirements to qualify for loan assumption.
  • Long-term plans: Consider your long-term housing and financial goals. An assumable loan might be a great fit if you plan to stay in the home for many years, but less so if you anticipate moving again soon.
  • Market conditions: Take into account the current state of the real estate market. In a high-interest rate environment, assuming a loan with a lower rate can be particularly beneficial.
  • Professional advice: Consult with real estate professionals, financial advisors, or mortgage specialists. Their insights can be invaluable in helping you understand the nuances and implications of assuming an FHA loan.

The decision to assume an FHA mortgage loan should align with your financial goals, housing needs, and the potential benefits it offers in your unique situation. By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that supports your journey toward homeownership.

HomeLight can connect you with a top-performing real estate agent familiar with assumable FHA loans and help you find fitting home listings in your market. With the right agent and the right home, an assumable FHA loan can put you on the doorstep of affordable homeownership.

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