Your observation is right. Most lenders have overlays, which are institutional guidelines directing the lending process, which require credit scores of 620 to 640. In many cases, local lenders have more room to work with special circumstances, as long as they meet the federal FHA guidelines. Those overlays are normally implemented to avoid buy-backs of defaulted loans.
I am not in Manhattan to assist, but you might contact your local Board Of REALTORSÂ® and ask for names of local agents who specialize in FHA loans. In most cases any agent should be well versed in area lender offerings and will have contact numbers on speed-dial to assist.
McGrew Real Estate