NMLS #237598 | Pacific Mortgage Group is a dba of California Premier Services Inc.

Pacific Mortgage logo

FHA Loans California: Limits, Requirements & Application

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan offers numerous benefits, particularly for first-time homebuyers. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of FHA loans in California, focusing on key aspects like FHA loan limits and FHA loan requirements.

Are you considering buying a home in California? If so, understanding the various loan options available to you is crucial. 

Take the first step to qualifying for your mortgage by contacting an expert at Pacific Mortgage. Click here to start now.

What Is an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA doesn’t lend money directly but insures loans provided by private lenders like Pacific Mortgage, thereby reducing their risk.

FHA Loan Limits in California

FHA loan limits vary by county in California. For 2023, the limits range from $472,030 for single-family homes in most areas to $1,089,300 in more expensive metro areas. These limits are subject to change annually, so it’s vital to check the latest updates when considering an FHA loan.

FHA Loan Requirements in California

One of the attractive features of FHA loans is their relatively lenient requirements. While specific criteria can vary, some general FHA loan requirements in California include:

  • A minimum credit score, often lower than what’s required for conventional loans.
  • A certain percentage of down payment, which is typically less than conventional loans.
  • Proof of steady income and employment.
  • The property must be the borrower’s primary residence.

Remember that meeting these requirements doesn’t guarantee loan approval, as lenders like Pacific Mortgage also consider other factors, such as your debt-to-income ratio.

Credit Score Requirements for FHA Loans in California

One of the most critical factors lenders consider when approving an FHA loan is the borrower’s credit score. This three-digit number provides a snapshot of your creditworthiness, and different lenders have varying minimum credit score requirements.

For an FHA loan, the minimum credit score often required by many lenders is 580; however, we can help you get a loan with a credit score of 500 or above. This is significantly lower compared to conventional loans, making FHA loans more accessible to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.

However, it’s important to note that while a credit score of 500 may get you into the FHA loan program, a higher score could provide you with more benefits. For instance, borrowers with a credit score of 580 or higher can qualify for the FHA’s maximum financing of 96.5 percent of the purchase price with a 3.5 percent down payment.

On the other hand, if your credit score falls between 500 and 579, you will likely need to put down a larger down payment of at least 10 percent.

While these are general guidelines, each lender might have slightly different criteria. At Pacific Mortgage, we work with our clients individually, considering their entire financial picture rather than focusing solely on credit score.

Even if your credit score isn’t stellar, don’t let that deter you from exploring the possibility of homeownership. With an FHA loan from Pacific Mortgage, your dream of owning a home in California could be within reach. Contact our team today to discuss your options and find out how we can help you navigate the FHA loan process.

Understand the Rules of an FHA Loan

Before applying for an FHA loan, it’s crucial to understand the rules that govern this type of mortgage. Here are some essential things you need to know:

  1. Minimum Credit Score: The Federal Housing Administration requires a minimum credit score of 500 to be eligible for an FHA loan. However, if your score is between 500 and 579, you’ll need to make a down payment of at least 10%. If your credit score is 580 or higher, you’re eligible for the 3.5% down payment program.
  2. Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): FHA loans have more lenient DTI requirements compared to conventional loans. Borrowers can have a maximum DTI ratio of 43% to qualify, but in some cases, it can go as high as 50%.
  3. Primary Residence Requirement: FHA loans are only available for primary residences, not investment properties or vacation homes. The borrower must move into the property within 60 days of closing and live there for at least one year.
  4. Mortgage Insurance: All FHA loans require two types of mortgage insurance premiums: an upfront premium that’s 1.75% of the loan amount, paid when the borrower gets the loan, and an annual premium that varies depending on the length of the loan, loan amount, and initial loan-to-value ratio. This insurance offers protection to lenders in case a borrower defaults on the loan.
  5. Property Standards: The property you’re purchasing with an FHA loan must meet specific safety, security, and soundness (structural integrity) standards. An FHA-approved appraiser will assess the home before approval.
  6. Loan Limits: FHA sets limits on how much you can borrow, which vary by county and the number of units in the dwelling. Check the current FHA loan limits for your area before applying.
  7. Employment Verification: Borrowers must provide proof of steady employment and income. Typically, FHA lenders require two years of consistent employment, preferably with the same employer.

Remember, while FHA loans can be a great option for first-time home buyers or those with lower credit scores, it’s essential to understand the rules and requirements before you apply.



  1. FHA Loan Requirements in 2022 – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


Quick Tips To Ensure You Qualify For An FHA Loan

  1. Improve Your Credit Score: First and foremost, work on boosting your credit score. This can be done by paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances low, and not taking on new debt. A higher credit score will improve your chances of securing an FHA loan and potentially lower your interest rate.
  2. Save for a Down Payment: Although FHA loans are known for their low down payment requirements (as low as 3.5%), saving more for a down payment can decrease your mortgage insurance costs and make your offer more attractive to sellers.
  3. Keep Your Employment Stable: Lenders like to see stability, especially when it comes to your employment. Try to avoid job hopping in the months leading up to your application, as this can be a red flag to lenders.
  4. Pay Down Debt: Your debt-to-income ratio is a significant factor in getting approved for an FHA loan. Pay down as much debt as possible to lower your ratio and increase your chances of approval.
  5. Get Pre-Approved: Finally, before house hunting, get pre-approved for a loan. This will show sellers that you’re serious about buying and give you a better idea of how much you can afford.

Why Choose Pacific Mortgage for Your FHA Loan?

Pacific Mortgage has extensive experience helping Californians navigate the home buying process. Our team is well-versed in FHA loan requirements and can guide you through each step, from understanding FHA loan limits to completing the application process.

We are committed to providing personalized service and competitive rates to make your home buying journey as smooth as possible. So whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to refinance, Pacific Mortgage is here to assist.

Contact Pacific Mortgage Today to learn more about how an FHA loan in California can help make your dream of homeownership a reality.