Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124

Identifying and Verifying Federally Backed Mortgages

Whether you recently purchased a home or have owned one for years, knowing if your mortgage is federally backed can be critically important. Federally backed mortgages come with certain protections and programs that can assist homeowners, especially during difficult financial times.

If you’re not sure about the status of your mortgage, there are several ways to find out. How can you find out if your mortgage is federally backed?

To determine if your mortgage is federally backed, check your loan documents for mentions of FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If unclear, contact your loan servicer directly. Alternatively, use online databases like HUD’s FHA loan lookup or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s loan lookup tools to verify the status of your mortgage. 

What Is a Federally Backed Mortgage?

A federally backed mortgage is a home loan that is insured or guaranteed by the federal government. There are several major federal agencies and organizations that back mortgages, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac

When a mortgage is federally backed, the government agrees to reimburse the lender if the borrower defaults. This shifts some of the risk from the lender to the government and enables lenders to offer more affordable loan terms. Federally backed mortgages often have lower interest rates and down payment requirements than conventional loans from banks and credit unions.

Why Does It Matter If Your Mortgage Is Federally Backed?

If your mortgage is federally backed, you have access to certain protections and mortgage relief programs that are not available with conventional loans. For example, the federal CARES Act passed in 2020 allowed borrowers with federally backed mortgages to request COVID-related forbearance without penalties or late fees. 

Additionally, federally backed mortgages come with strong borrower protections that guard against predatory lending and discrimination. Federal laws like the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act help ensure fair access to credit and prohibit practices like redlining.

Knowing your mortgage is federally backed provides peace of mind since you can take advantage of hardship assistance and modifications if you run into financial trouble. The agencies that back these mortgages have programs to help borrowers avoid foreclosure.

How Can You Find Out If Your Mortgage Is Federally Backed?

If you want to confirm whether your mortgage is federally backed, there are a few ways to find out:

1. Check Your Loan Documents

The first step is to check your mortgage documents and closing paperwork for any clues. Look for mentions of FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac. You may find a statement indicating the loan will be sold to one of these agencies. 

Reference the Uniform Residential Loan Application used to apply for the mortgage. Section 1 will note if the loan is conventional or federally backed. 

2. Contact Your Loan Servicer

If the documents are unclear, reach out to your loan servicer directly. This is the company you make mortgage payments to each month. Ask them to confirm in writing whether your loan is federally backed and insured by FHA, VA, USDA, etc. Make sure to document who you spoke with and keep a copy of any correspondence.

3. Use Online Tools and Databases

There are several governmental databases you can search to look up details on your mortgage:

Enter your name, address, or loan number and the system will indicate if there is a match. This can verify whether your mortgage is backed by one of these government agencies.

For personalized guidance, connect with a non-profit housing counselor or legal aid attorney in your area. They can review your mortgage details and situation to clarify whether your loan is federally backed. If it is not, they can advise you on any state or local protections that may apply.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 28.1% of all US mortgages were federally backed in 2022. This includes 13.4% insured by FHA, 7.2% by VA, 3.4% by USDA, and 4.1% by other government agencies.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Federally Backed Mortgage?

The key benefits of having a federally backed mortgage include:

Lower monthly payments: Interest rates on government-backed loans are typically 0.5 to 1 percentage point lower than conventional mortgage rates. This results in more affordable monthly payments.

Lower down payments: You may be able to get a federally backed mortgage with just 3.5% or even 0% down. This increases affordability, especially for first-time homebuyers. 

More flexible credit requirements: Federal mortgage programs are more flexible regarding credit scores and debt-to-income ratios. This expands access for buyers who may not qualify for conventional loans.

No private mortgage insurance (PMI): Federally backed mortgages do not require PMI payments that add to your monthly costs.

Access to hardship assistance: Federal mortgage agencies offer forbearance, loan modifications, and partial claim options to avoid foreclosure if you run into financial difficulties.

Strong borrower protections: Strict regulations safeguard against predatory lending and housing discrimination when using federally backed financing.

What Are the Different Types of Federally Backed Mortgages?

There are several distinct mortgage programs backed by government agencies that serve specific borrower groups:

1. FHA Loans

FHA loans are popular with first-time homebuyers because they only require a 3.5% down payment. Borrowers with credit scores as low as 580 may qualify. FHA loans made up around 13.4% of the mortgage market in 2022.

2. VA Loans

VA loans help military service members, veterans, and their families purchase homes with no down payment required. VA loans accounted for approximately 7.2% of mortgages last year.

3. USDA Loans

USDA loans assist low-income borrowers in rural areas gain homeownership. These zero-down-payment mortgages made up 3.4% of the market in 2022.

4. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans

While not direct lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expand mortgage availability by purchasing conventional loans from lenders and bundling them into mortgage-backed securities. They guaranteed around 4.1% of mortgages in 2022.

What Protections Do Federal Laws Provide for Borrowers with Federally Backed Mortgages?

Federal laws like the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act provide important anti-discrimination protections when obtaining federally backed mortgages. Key provisions include:

  • Prohibiting redlining: Lenders cannot refuse to offer loans or set unfair terms based on race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristics. 
  • Banning lending discrimination: It is illegal to deny someone a government-backed mortgage because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, disability, etc.
  • Restricting predatory lending: Imposes regulations against unfair, deceptive, or abusive lending practices that take advantage of borrowers.
  • Requiring fair access to credit: Lenders must fairly consider all qualified applicants and provide equal quality loans and terms regardless of race, gender, or other factors.
  • Enabling damage claims: Borrowers can sue for damages and attorneys fees if subject to discrimination in obtaining or servicing a federally backed mortgage.

These protections are enforced by agencies like HUD and the CFPB to uphold fair and equitable access to mortgage financing.

Can You Refinance a Federally Backed Mortgage?

Yes, it is possible to refinance an existing federally backed mortgage into a new government-backed loan. This allows you to take advantage of lower interest rates or tap home equity if rates have dropped since you obtained your original mortgage. 

Some popular options for refinancing federally backed mortgages include:

  • FHA Streamline Refinance: A faster and easier option for refinancing an existing FHA loan.
  • VA IRRRL: VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan for refinancing a VA mortgage into a lower rate. 
  • USDA Streamlined Assist Refinance: A streamlined option for refinancing a USDA guaranteed housing loan.
  • Fannie Mae RefiNow: Refinance program for Fannie-backed loans with expanded eligibility. 
  • Freddie Mac Refi Possible: Lowers rates and payments on Freddie Mac-owned mortgages.

Talk to your lender to go over the best refinance option based on your current federally backed mortgage program.

What Should You Do If Your Mortgage Isn’t Federally Backed?

If it turns out your mortgage is not federally backed, don’t panic. You still have options:

  • Review your loan documents for any investor or state protections that may apply.
  • Research relief programs offered in your area by nonprofits and housing agencies.
  • Prioritize building your savings so you have a financial cushion in case of hardship. 
  • Consider refinancing into a federally backed mortgage to gain access to more protections.
  • Consult a housing counselor if you run into trouble making payments. They can help assess all workout options.

While not ideal, having a conventional mortgage does not leave you fully alone in times of financial stress. Reach out to your lender immediately if you anticipate difficulties making payments.


Knowing whether you have a federally backed mortgage provides useful insights into the help and resources available to you. Follow the steps outlined to determine if your loan is insured or guaranteed by FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or another government agency. This knowledge can give you confidence and peace of mind knowing you have access to hardship programs and strong borrower protections if challenges arise. Reach out to housing counselors and legal aid clinics for further personalized guidance and advice.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

How do I find out if my mortgage is federally backed?

To find out if your mortgage is federally backed, visit the Federal Housing Finance Agency website. There you can view a list of all the banks and lenders that are approved by the government to issue federally backed mortgages. Additionally, you can use the agency’s Mortgage Assistance Tool to determine if your mortgage is federally backed.

What mortgage loans are federally backed?

Federally backed mortgage loans are those that are insured or guaranteed by the United States government. These include Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, Veterans Affairs (VA) loans, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans. FHA loans are typically used for first-time homebuyers, VA loans are for military veterans, and USDA loans are for rural homebuyers. All of these loans offer lower down payments and more lenient credit requirements, making them more accessible to a broader range of potential borrowers.

Are all mortgages backed by FHA?

No, not all mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA-backed mortgages are specifically designed for borrowers with less-than-ideal credit or limited funds for a down payment. These loans offer more flexible eligibility requirements, lower down payment options, and more lenient credit and income requirements than traditional mortgages. Borrowers of FHA-backed mortgages must also pay mortgage insurance premiums, which can add to the cost of the loan.

Who is my mortgage backed by?

Your mortgage is likely backed by a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These organizations buy mortgages from lenders, package them into securities, and sell them to investors. If you have a loan backed by one of these GSEs, you may be able to get help from them if you are having trouble making payments.