Conventional Fixed Rate

A conventional mortgage is a loan that is not guaranteed or insured by any government agency.  There are two options for a conventional loan, Fixed Rate or Adjustable Rate.


Mortgages not guaranteed or insured by FHA, VA or USDA are known as conventional mortgages.  These mortgages adhere to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac, are corporations created by the federal government to buy and sell conventional mortgages. It sets the maximum loan amount and requirements for borrowers.


Usually, a conventional mortgage is a 30-year fixed rate loan.  That means it has a fixed interest rate for the 30 year term of the mortgage.  Conventional mortgages also require a minimum of 3% down for first time home buyers or 5% down for all other customers.  For example, if a house costs $200,000, the lender will provide a loan for a first time home buyer up to 97 percent of that amount.  So, $194,000 is financed through the lender and the borrower must pay a $6,000 down payment.

Adjustable Mortgage

An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, is a home loan with an interest rate that can change periodically. This means that the monthly payments can go up or down. Generally, the initial interest rate is lower than that of a comparable fixed-rate mortgage. After that period ends, interest rates — and your monthly payments — can go lower or higher. For Example, a 5/1 Arm means that the interest rate is fixed for the first 5 years. After the 5 years are up, then the rate will adjust to the interest rate will adjust after that.

Adjustable Rate mortgage terms are typically 3/1, 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1 options.


What is an FHA loan?

An FHA loan is a government-backed mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA for short. Popular with first-time homebuyers, FHA home loans require lower minimum credit scores and down payments than many conventional loans. Although the government insures the loans, they are offered by FHA-approved mortgage lenders.

FHA loans come in fixed-rate terms of 15 and 30 years.

How FHA loans work

FHA’s flexible underwriting standards allow borrowers who may not have pristine credit or high incomes and cash savings the opportunity to become homeowners. But there’s a catch: borrowers must pay FHA mortgage insurance. This coverage protects the lender from a loss if you default on the loan.

Mortgage insurance is required on most loans when borrowers put down less than 20 percent. All FHA loans require the borrower to pay two mortgage insurance premiums:

  • Upfront mortgage insurance premium: 1.75 percent of the loan amount, paid when the borrower gets the loan. The premium can be rolled into the financed loan amount.

  • Annual mortgage insurance premium: 0.45 percent to 1.05 percent, depending on the loan term (15 years vs. 30 years), the loan amount and the initial loan-to-value ratio, or LTV. This premium amount is divided by 12 and paid monthly.

So, if you borrow $150,000, your upfront mortgage insurance premium would be $2,625 and your annual premium would range from $675 ($56.25 per month) to $1,575 ($131.25 per month), depending on the term.


FHA mortgage insurance premiums cannot be canceled in most instances. The only way to get rid of the premiums is to refinance into a non-FHA loan or to sell your home.

How to qualify for an FHA loan

To be eligible for an FHA loan, borrowers must meet the following lending guidelines:

  • FICO score of 580 or higher with 3.5 percent down.

  • Verifiable employment history for the last two years.

  • Income is verifiable through pay stubs, federal tax returns and bank statements.

  • Loan is used for a primary residence.

FHA vs. conventional loans

Unlike FHA loans, conventional loans are not insured by the government. Qualifying for a conventional mortgage requires a higher credit score, solid income and a down payment of at least 5 percent for certain loan programs.

Contact me to see how I can help with your mortgage needs.

CenterState Bank, NA

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415 Meridian St
Huntsville, Alabama 35801


Tim Byrne 

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