It’s important to know what credit score you need to buy a house before you invest your time and money in the home buying process. This blog post will explain how your credit score affects the mortgage programs that are available to you. It will also give some tips on how to improve your credit and increase your chances of getting approved for a loan.
What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?
You don’t need perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage to buy a house. The minimum credit score needed depends on the mortgage program. There are programs that will allow you to qualify for financing with credit scores as low as 500 though they may come with more strings attached.
Credit Score Minimums By Loan Type
The following are the most common mortgage programs used to buy houses in the United States.
Conventional loans require a minimum of 620 credit and are the most favored mortgage program by sellers and realtors. They don’t need special appraisals like FHA or VA which can result in delays for the seller.
FHA loans are insured by the federal government, so they come with less stringent credit requirements than conventional mortgages. FHA will insure credit scores down to 500 though most lenders won’t lend below 580.
VA lenders get to choose their minimum credit scores. Most lenders use 620 as their minimum. However, in the first six months of 2020, VA home buyers’ average credit scores ranged from 711 to 721, according to Ellie Mae.
Like VA loans, home loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture don’t have a set minimum credit score — and lenders can require their own score minimums.
Loan sizes larger than the conforming loan limits in your area are called Jumbo loans. Lending that much money is inherently risky, so lenders look for potential home buyers to have strong credit scores of 700 and higher.
Lenders Can Make Up Their Requirements
Just because an applicant meets the minimum program requirements, it doesn’t mean the lender has to take the loan. Lenders can add their own higher credit minimums for any loan program.
Even lenders that are willing to take on a borrower with a credit score that’s under 600 will want to see that other aspects of your financial situation are secure.
For example, someone with a 500 credit score is likely to have some accounts in charge-off status. Even though FHA will insure a loan with a 500 score, the lender could require that past due balances are paid before closing.
What If You Don’t Have A High Enough Credit Score To Buy A House?
It is possible to get a mortgage to buy a house if you have no credit, but not if your scores are under 500.
With the younger generations being more and more reluctant to go into debt, some lenders have begun to offer programs that will evaluate non traditional credit. In these situations, a lender can request your rental payment history, as well as other utilities like phone, cable, etc., to establish your payment consistency.
If your credit scores are under 500, then you should consider fixing your credit before you start the house buying process.
How To Fix Your Credit Score To Buy A House
If your credit score doesn’t qualify for a great rate or the type of mortgage you’d prefer, it might make sense to put off home buying for a while and use the time to build your credit profile. Here’s how:
- Pay off collections in exchange for deletion. Its not really the balance that hurts your scores so much as the presence of the collection. Many collection agencies will consider removing the account from your credit report in exchange for payment.
- Pay down credit card balances. The single fastest way to improve your scores may be to simply get your balances down under 10%.
- Keep payments current. Simply missing one payment will drop your scores and reverse your hard work of improving them.
- Don’t close any accounts. Closing accounts changes your mix of credit card and loans while also lowering your debt utilization if the closed accounts have balances on them.
- Improve your mix of credit. FICO says 2-4 credit cards is optimal. You can also see longer term progress by adding a variety of loans including personal, student, mortgage, and auto.
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. It’s important to know what your credit score is and how it affects your ability to buy a home.
Your credit score can affect whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, as well as the interest rate on that loan.
A high FICO® Score can help lower monthly payments and save money in the long run. But if you have low or no credit, there are other options available to finance your dream home!