Can A Gay Couple Get An FHA Mortgage?

While gay couples seeking VA mortgages face significant barriers and limitations imposed by Congress, the same is not true with gay couples who wish to finance with FHA mortgages, even in states where gay marriage is not recognized.

Under VA rules a “spouse” is defined as someone of the opposite sex, meaning that the definition of marriage for lending purposes is restricted to unions between a man and a woman. With the FHA no such limitation applies.

HUD tells us that “FHA-insured mortgages must be based on the creditworthiness of borrowers and not on unrelated factors or characteristics such as marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  FHA regulation 24 C.F.R. § 203.33 prohibits lenders from considering, among other things, the ‘marital status, actual or perceived sexual orientation, [or] gender identity…’ of applicants for an FHA loan.  HUD’s Equal Access to Housing Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity rule that became effective in March 2012 added sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases.  Marital status was a prohibited basis before the Equal Access rule.

“Because an applicant’s marital status is irrelevant when it comes to FHA loans, whether a state recognizes same-sex marriage should not affect a lender’s loan decisions.”

Changing Public Values

Until the current election cycle more than 30 ballot questions opposed to gay marriage had passed. However in 2012 voters in Maryland, Maine and Washington approved gay marriage while voters in Minnesota turned down legislation that would have banned gay unions. Both opinion polls and election results show changing public views.

The equal access model used by HUD and the FHA provides a tested, practical pathway toward underwriting standards the VA could also adopt — if allowed to do so by Congress


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