A new opportunity for home ownership is available to credit-worthy low- to moderate-income borrowers through Fannie Mae’s new HomeReady mortgage program.

The financing, available for purchase loans and refinancing, loosens some requirements that have kept consumers out of the housing market or limited their option to refinance. The loans are available with a down payment of 3 percent or 5 percent and have reduced private mortgage insurance costs. Gift funds are allowed for the down payment, and lenders and sellers are allowed to help with closing costs.

An innovative feature of the program is that the income from non-borrowers can be counted as part of the debt-to-income ratio, which compares all monthly minimum payments to your monthly gross income.

[Lenders offer new options for first-time and credit-challenged homebuyers]

Other loans only allow borrowers’ income to be considered, but this program recognizes that many households include extended family who contribute to the housing payment even when they are not the homeowners. In some cases, borrowers can include income from non-occupant borrowers, such as their parents.

Other fees will be lower on these loans. For example, borrowers who have a credit score of 680 or higher won’t pay any extra fees or a higher interest rate, unlike typical loans that require a bigger payment for borrowers with a credit score below 740.

All borrowers will be required to take a home-buyer education course. The loans are limited by income in some areas but waived in low-income areas.

Contact a lender to discuss your mortgage requirements to see if you are eligible for a HomeReady loan.

Michele Lerner is a freelance writer. To pass on a tip or news item, contact us at realestate@washpost.com and put “Town Square” in the subject line.