Q: I am looking to buy my first home this year. My mortgage broker keeps suggesting an FHA loan, almost like she is assuming that that’s what I will choose. But some of my friends who bought recently say that they are more expensive and harder to get than a regular loan. What gives?

A: With subprime mortgages long gone and the credit crunch keeping conventional lending guidelines quite tight, FHA and other government-insured loans have become the mortgage of first resort for many first-time homebuyers and others looking to take advantage of the current buyer’s market. In many respects, FHA loans are very buyer-friendly; however, there are some insider secrets every prospective FHA loan borrower should know before they even start their house hunt.

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