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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

Home Loans for Single Moms: 5 Programs to Consider

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


Becoming a homeowner is difficult, even for families with two incomes. But for families with one income, either because a parent stays at home or is a single parent, the math is even more complicated.


Single moms and parents, whether a first-time or repeat home buyer, have a number of loan options to help make becoming a homeowner just a little bit easier.


These are the best home loan options and grants for single moms.




Home loans for single parents


These are the best home loan options for single moms.



1. FHA loans


Single moms may consider Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans for their home purchases. FHA mortgages are typically a good option for lower income borrowers with subpar credit scores.


To qualify for an FHA loan, you'll need a credit score of at least 500, though you may qualify for a down payment of just 3.5% with a credit score of at least 580. These mortgages provide a great opportunity for home buyers that may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage, though there is a costly con to consider.


FHA loans carry something called a mortgage insurance premium (MIP), which you'll owe for a minimum of 11 years and potentially up to the life of your loan.


This MIP has two components to consider:


  • A premium worth 1.75% of your base loan amount, due at closing

  • Ongoing annual MIP payments


Still, the program is commonly used by first time buyers and could be a perfect fit for single parents.



2. USDA loans


Single parents buying homes in rural areas may opt for a USDA loan. Backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), these loans are available in many areas. In addition to rural settings across the country, USDA abut designated zones around suburbs of major cities.


Here is a link to the USDA eligibility map.


For single moms, there are multiple benefits to this program. First, borrowers may qualify for 100% financing, meaning that you can buy a home with no down payment whatsoever. Second, you will find competitive interest rates, even for borrowers without excellent credit.


Similar to the mortgage insurance premiums on an FHA loan, USDA loans carry annual guarantee fees, though these are more affordable and are less costly than PMI would be on a conventional loan.


To qualify, borrowers must have a credit score of at least 620.



3. VA loans


Veterans, active-duty members of the United States military, and eligible surviving spouses may explore a VA home loan. Backed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, VA mortgages have no down payment or mortgage insurance requirements.


You will be subject to a one-time funding fee of 2.15%, which is more expensive than a conventional loan's origination fee, but less expensive than ongoing FHA premiums.


Credit score requirements are flexible, but buyers must use their loan to buy a primary residence (their full-time home). Additionally, the property that you buy must meet VA minimum property requirements, including:


  • Safe and functioning mechanical systems (heating, electrical, and plumbing)

  • A functioning and acceptable roof

  • Structural integrity

  • Meeting all local building codes

  • No health hazards, like lead paint or asbestos



4. Conventional loans


Of course, conventional loans are always an option. Many buyers think that they'll need a down payment of ten to 20 percent of the homes purchase price to qualify, but some conventional loans required just 3% down.


With a minimum credit score of 620, conventional loans are more difficult to qualify for, but borrowers will be rewarded with:


  • No mortgage insurance with a 20% down payment or 20% equity

  • Higher loan limits (up to $726,200 in many areas in 2024)

  • A faster application and closing process



5. Physician home loans


Single parents that work as qualifying healthcare providers may opt to take a physician mortgage. Physician mortgages are powerful for borrowers because they offer:


  • Up to 100% financing

  • No private mortgage insurance

  • Flexible debt-to-income ratio requirements


Qualifying healthcare providers vary by lender, but physicians (MDs and DOs) and dentists (DMDs and DDSs) tend to have the most options.


More national lenders like TD Bank, Bank of America, and Amerant are great places to start.



Home buying metrics to keep in mind


Potential home buyers will need to keep in mind a number of metrics to meet before taking a home loan. For example, mortgage lenders will evaluate a borrower's:


  • Credit score: Borrowers in the 700-800 range will likely qualify for a conventional loan. Single moms with credit scores in the 600s or below may need to consider alternative financing options.


  • Debt to income ratio: Borrowers should have a DTI ratio below 43% to qualify for a conventional loan, though other programs have higher requirements.


  • Cash flow: How much money are you left with each month after paying all of your bills? Lenders want your mortgage payment to be less than 35% of your monthly-take home pay if possible.



Which home loan should single moms choose?


Ultimately, the best home loan for single mobs depends upon a number of variables, like:


  • Your income

  • Your credit score

  • Eligibility for grant programs



1. Your income


Ultimately, your income is important, but not as critical to the home buying process as you might imagine. If you earn a solid income, however, you are more likely to have ample cash flow, which could help you qualify for a conventional loan, saving you those pricey mortgage insurance premium payments.


On the contrary, some higher income borrowers embrace FHA loans anyway due to their load down payment requirements.



2. Your credit score


The largest variable in the home buying process is your credit score. Single moms with great credit will be able to choose from multiple programs on this list, allowing them to shop around for the best interest rate that they can find.


Homebuyers with lesser credit scores will naturally have less options, and they may need to take an FHA mortgage if they would like to buy a home.



3. Eligibility for any grant programs


Single parents may also qualify for a number of home buyer grants to make their home purchase more affordable.


Many of these grants are available to buyers regardless of mortgage program, but others may be more specific and depend upon your mortgage program.



Single parent home buyer grants


While the government and other organizations don't offer home buyer grants specifically for single moms, there are a number of first-time and lower income-based grants that single parents may qualify for.



Good Neighbor Next Door


The Good Neighbor Next Door program is an option for teachers, firefighters, first responders, and law enforcement professionals willing to buy homes in areas in need of community revitalization.


Single moms and dads will need to commit to live in a home for at least 36 months. But if they do, they'll receive a 50% discount on home's listed for sale through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.



Single mom down payment and closing cost assistance programs


Many state, local, and county governments also fund programs designed to help first time home buyers and/or lower income families. These programs typically carry one of a few different arrangements:


  • Loans: Funds that are loaned to you as a second mortgage, typically at a lower interest rate.

  • Grants: Money that becomes yours without any repayment requirement.

  • Forgivable loans: Money that is technically loaned to you but will be forgiven after a set period of time (or if you fulfill certain requirements).


Of course, these programs vary greatly by area and region but you can locate any down payment or closing cost programs in your area by searching Google for "closing cost/down payment assistance programs + (your state/city/county).


Nationally, buyers may consider the National Homebuyers Fund, which can be paired with either a conventional or FHA loan. To date, the NHF has provided nearly $418 million in assistance to over 48,000 individuals/families.



Conclusion


No matter where you live, there are numerous mortgage, grant, down payment, and closing cost assistance programs available to single parents, whether they are first time home buyers or not.


Do any of these programs surprise you in any way? Scroll down to the comments below and tell us about it!



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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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