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2019 FHA Debt to Income Ratio Requirements

FHA debt to income ratio

fha debt to income ratio

The standard FHA debt to income ratio is 43%. When applying for an FHA loan, lenders are required to calculate your debt to income ratio as part of the mortgage approval process when underwriting your loan application. Exceptions can be made by participating FHA lenders to allow your maximum DTI to be as high as 56.9%.

What is a Debt to Income Ratio?

The debt to income ratio (DTI) is the percentage when dividing your total gross monthly income into all of the monthly payment obligations that appear on your credit report, plus the proposed mortgage payments. The DTI

How to calculate the FHA debt to income ratio

When calculating the FHA debt to income ratio, you will start with your gross monthly income. Then, you will add up all of the required monthly payments that appear on your credit report. This includes credit card minimum payments, car payments, personal loans, other mortgages, etc.  The only exception would be student loans since they are handled differently. Here is an example of a debt to income ratio calculation:

Gross monthly income = $6,200

Monthly Obligations

  • Visa minimum payment = $25
  • Amex minimum payment = $65
  • Car Payment = $275
  • Proposed mortgage payment = $1,750 (principal, interest and MIP)
  • Proposed monthly property taxes, insurance and HOA fees = $475

Total Monthly Obligations = $2,590

Debt to Income Ratio = $2,590 / $6200 = $41.7%

*Helpful Hints
When shopping for a home, the property taxes will have a significant impact on your DTI calculation and ultimately how much home you will be able to purchase.

Front End DTI Ratio

The front end debt to income ratio is the calculation of your monthly gross income divided into the proposed mortgage payment, taxes, insurance and MIP. This calculation is for the housing related debt only. FHA guidelines specify the maximum front end ratio will be 31%-40% depending upon the borrower’s credit score.

Housing related debt includes the proposed mortgage payment of principal and interest, the monthly property taxes, monthly homeowners’ insurance, monthly FHA mortgage insurance, and homeowner’s association fees if applicable.

Back end DTI ratio

The back end ratio is essentially your total debt to income ratio. This includes your proposed housing debt plus any additional consumer debt that appears on your credit report. This was outlined in the calculation above. It is the back end ratio that will ultimately be the deciding factor on whether your income levels are high enough to qualify for the mortgage you are applying for.

FHA Debt to Income Ratio Compensating Factors

FHA guidelines permit lenders to allow for higher DTI ratios if borrowers are able to meet various compensating factors. These additional scenarios help to offset the risk associated with approving mortgages with higher DTI levels. Some of these compensating factors are as follows:

Residual Income – If the borrower has significant funds remaining each month after all expenses are paid, lenders may allow higher debt to income ratios.

Cash Reserves – If the borrower has significant cash reserves on hand after closing in the event of a financial emergency, then this would be another compensating factor.

Minimal Payment Shock – Payment shock is when a borrower’s monthly housing payment increases significantly when purchasing a home and going from the prior rent/mortgage payment to the new proposed payment. If the borrower’s payments will remain virtually stable under the new mortgage payment scenario, this will make lenders feel comfortable approving the higher DTI.

High Credit Scores – If your credit scores are high, then you have proven to be financially responsible. This will go a long way in getting approved for a higher DTI.

Steady Employment – Have you been employed for a while at the same place or have you been bouncing from job to job with various gaps in employment over the past few years? Establishing a reliable source of income is going to be important.

With these and other compensating factors, FHA lenders may allow DTI Ratios over 50%.

FHA Debt to Income Ratio Chart

This chart will indicate what DTI is acceptable based upon your credit score. This also talks about some compensating factors that may be needed to qualify for the higher DTI levels. Keep in mind this is just a basic guideline and it would be best to discuss your personal scenario because you still may qualify despite what this chart says.

Minimum Credit Score Qualifying Ratios

Front/Back

Compensating Factors
500-579 or No Credit Score 31/43 No compensating factors available with credit scores below 580.

For FHA Energy Efficient Homes, ratios can be increased to 33/45

580 and above 31/43 No compensating factors are required. Back ratio can go up to 45% for Energy Efficient Homes
580 and above 37/47 One of the following:
  • Additional cash reserves
  • Minimal payment shock
  • Residual Income
580 and above 40/40 No discretionary debt
580 and above 40/50 Two of the following:
  • Additional cash reserves
  • Minimal payment shock
  • Significant additional income

How to lower your DTI

There are many methods to lower your DTI and the most obvious is to either increase your monthly income or reduce your monthly debt. However, there are some less obvious tips that we will share with you here.

Increase Your Income – If you are self-employed or earn cash or tips in your line of work, then it will be important to be able to document this income when you apply for a mortgage. The mistake others make is not depositing all income including cash or tips into a bank account.

Lenders will need to see the flow of money going into your bank accounts. It does not matter whether you withdraw those funds soon afterwards. Documenting that the cash is coming in is a way to increase your documented gross monthly income which will in turn lower your DTI ratios.

Lower Your Monthly Debt – The DTI ratios are often driven up by large monthly payment requirements. If you are going to pay down debt to help your DTI ratios before applying for a mortgage, you should target the debt that has the largest monthly payment requirement, NOT the debt that has the largest balance.

The goal is to eliminate any monthly payments from your credit portfolio. Therefore, if you have $5,000 available to pay down debt, you should use those funds to completely pay off as many accounts as possible. That would eliminate those payments from your DTI calculation. What you do not want to do is apply the $5,000 against an account that has a much larger balance without eliminating the monthly payment.

What is the maximum allowed FHA DTI ratio?
The maximum allowed FHA DTI Ratio with compensating factors is 56.9%

What income can be used to calculate debt to income ratios?
The following types of income can be used to calculate debt to income ratios:
Monthly employment wages

  • Income from your business
  • Social security income
  • 401k income
  • Pensions
  • Disability income
  • Alimony and child support

Can I qualify for an FHA loan with high DTI?
There are lenders that will allow for much higher DTI levels up to and over 50%. If you work closely with the right lender, they will help guide you through the process and can suggest ways to qualify.

Student loans and FHA debt to income ratio
FHA lenders are required to use 1% of the student loan balance as part of the monthly obligations into the debt to income calculation. Read our article on student loans for more info.

Related Articles

FHA Loan Guidelines

FHA Credit Requirements

FHA Loans with 1099 Income

Getting an FHA Loan on Disability Income

Helpful DTI Calculator

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