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A good credit score for buying a house

18 min.

Credit ratings can seem like a foreign language, even to the most sophisticated buyers. Most people know that a higher credit score improves your mortgage approval odds by demonstrating to the lender that you are likely to repay the loan on time.

A good credit score for buying a house

Even though each lender may have different requirements, it is essential to know where your credit score falls and how it affects your loan application. Read on to find out the essentials.

The Credit Score Required to Buy a House

A credit score is a three-digit figure between 300 and 850, representing your creditworthiness. The higher your score, the more willing lenders will work with you.

Loan officers would prefer applicants with higher credit scores, but people with less-than-perfect credit utilization can still apply for a mortgage. It depends on the loan type you are aiming for. For a government-backed loan, the minimum credit score will be higher than for a traditional loan.

  • Conventional Loan. The government does not insure or guarantee the repayment of conventional loans. Borrowers with excellent credit scores and a sizable down payment should consider them. For a traditional loan, you should have an average FICO score of at least 620. If your middle credit score is below 620, your loan application may be denied, or you may be offered conventional loans with much higher interest rates and, as a result, larger monthly payments.
  • FHA Loans. A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan could be a good option if you have a lower credit score or a smaller down payment saved up. An FHA loan typically requires a credit score of 580 or above. A higher credit score does not mean that the interest rate on an FHA loan will be lower.
  • VA Loans. A VA loan, underwritten by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, might save you money if you qualify. These loans require no down payment. They are also for low-credit customers. You can get a VA loan if you or your spouse served in the military or are still in the military. Some VA loans require at least a 580-credit score, but no standard minimum credit score is needed to buy a home.
  • Jumbo Loans. For jumbo loans, you usually need a good credit score and a low ratio of debt to income. You will also need a sizable emergency fund to qualify for a jumbo mortgage. Jumbo mortgages allow you to borrow more, so lenders can be pickier about the borrowers' minimum credit scores. If you want a 15-year fixed- or adjustable-rate Jumbo Smart loan from Rocket Mortgage, you will need a credit score of at least 700. A credit score of 680 is required to get a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan.
  • USDA Loans. If you plan to live in a rural or suburban area that meets USDA loan credit score requirements and your expected monthly income is less than 115% of the area's median income, you may be qualified for a USDA loan. If so, consider looking into a USDA loan that the federal government backs. The standard minimum credit score requirement for a USDA loan is 640.

How to Check Your Credit Score

As you attempt to improve your credit score and get closer to the score, you will need to buy a home and monitor your progress with a free credit report offered by many personal finance websites and a growing number of credit cards. You can get your credit score for free once a week through several businesses.

Loan companies may look at a borrower's FICO score, even if it was generated in 2005 (FICO 2, 4, and 5). The best way to see where you stand and know what mortgage lenders will look for in your application is to get a total FICO credit score.

You will need to cancel before the beginning of that cycle to avoid being charged for the month's subscription. If your FICO scores are close to or in the excellent range on a free score source, you should not have to pay to verify them. You probably have a great credit score, which means you can get the best interest rates.

Other Factors Affecting Mmortgage Approval

Whether you get accepted for a mortgage depends heavily on your credit report. Lenders also look at other factors besides this one. In addition to the above, your mortgage lender will look at the following:

  • Payment History. The likelihood of getting a mortgage with a lower interest rate increases with the size of the down payment you can make. Mortgage lenders reason that if borrowers have previously put down a sizable sum toward their mortgage loan, they are less likely to default on their payments. If you can pay a more significant portion of the loan upfront, the lender will feel more comfortable giving you a loan.
  • Employment History. Although not all lenders require it, many may look favorably at applicants who have been with the same company or in the same line of employment for at least two years. The longer your work history, the less likely you will lose your job and your source of income.
  • Income. Before agreeing to provide you with a mortgage, lenders check your income to ensure it meets their requirements. They want to make sure that you are earning enough money each month to be able to pay your bills without struggling financially.
  • Debt-to-income Ratio. Lenders also consider monthly obligations. Lenders' requirements may vary, but they will only approve a mortgage loan if your new mortgage and other monthly debt payments exceed 43% of your gross monthly income. Having a high debt-to-income ratio can make it challenging to get a mortgage.
  • Savings. Lenders will look at your savings and emergency money to ensure you can still pay your mortgage if you lose your job. Because of this, most lenders want evidence that you have two months' worth of mortgage payments set aside as savings.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

If your minimum credit score does not meet the requirements for a tremendous interest rate or the type of mortgage you would desire, it may be in your best interest to put off purchasing a home for a while and use that time to improve your credit profile.

Before you apply for a mortgage, there are a few tips you can do to help increase your credit score, including the following:

  • Pay Down Your Credit Card Balances. If you want to maximize your credit score, one of the most effective methods you can use is to pay off any current debts. There are a few ways in which this is helpful. If you reduce your total debt, you will have more financial flexibility, and your lender will view you as a lower risk. As a second benefit, it lowers the percentage of your available credit scores that you are using. Lenders use this ratio to measure how dangerous a borrower you are. Avoid using your credit card as often as possible. For your credit use ratio, divide your total credit card debt by your total credit limit. The credit utilization percentage would be 20% if the monthly average charge was $2,000 and the credit limit was $10,000.
  • Continue Using Open Credit Card Accounts. When your credit limit gets smaller because of a card closure, your credit utilization ratio increases, which can lower your score. Keep your card active by charging once in a while and paying it off quickly to avoid a closure for inactivity.
  • Reduce the Frequency of Your Credit Card Applications. One way to improve a weak credit history is to apply for a new loan in the form of a credit card, secured credit card, or credit-builder loan. If you are deciding on applying for a mortgage, be sure at least six months have passed since you opened a new bank account.
  • Check your credit report for mistakes. By going to the website AnnualCreditReport, you can get a free copy of each of your three credit reports made by Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion® once a year. After getting these reports, you need to check them to see whether they include any inaccurate information.
  • Join the ranks of approved users. By adding you as an authorized user to an existing credit card account, a member of your family can assist you in raising your minimum credit score. However, it would be best if you did not increase the balance on this card. If you do so, you run the risk of lowering the credit score of the primary user.
  • Be responsible with your financial obligations. The best strategy to raise your credit score is consistently pay your obligations on time. Paying your invoices on time is a significant factor that lenders consider when determining your creditworthiness. Not only do car payments and mortgages matter, but so do cable and phone costs. Our payment history will account for 35% of your FICO score. That is a sizable sum, illustrating how critical it is to keep up with your financial obligations.

How to Apply for a Mortgage With a Bad Credit

Even if you have a bad credit report, getting accepted for a mortgage is possible. However, the fact that you can do something sometimes means you should. As was mentioned before, even a slight rise in the interest rate you are paying on your mortgage loan can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the loan's term.

If you have bad credit history and want to buy a home, here are some tips that may help you get a mortgage with a better interest rate:

  • Look Into Several Options. Every mortgage lender is different, and some can provide cheaper rates than those other lenders. According to recent research, shopping around for additional interest rate quotations can save you thousands of dollars throughout a 30-year mortgage.
  • Find a Co-signer. If you have poor credit, consider approaching a member of your family or a close friend with superior credit to co-sign your mortgage. Your application might get a boost because of this, but only if the co-signer is ready and able to take on the responsibility of the loan.
  • Shop for House Loans Even if You Have a Low Credit. If this is your first time purchasing a home or if you meet the requirements for low-income loan programs, you can get something other than a conventional loan. VA and USDA loans do not require a down payment or a minimum credit score needed, so you should ask your lender if you qualify. You should research the Fannie Mae HomeReady financing program, the HomeOne and Home Possible loan programs Freddie Mac provided, and numerous other programs geared toward first-time homebuyers.
  • Look for a Private Lender. Many lenders, including banks, non-banks, internet lenders, credit unions, and other forms of lenders, compete for your business. Banks are one of many options for obtaining a mortgage. Please allow them to fight for it so you can choose which can provide you with the most outstanding deal.
  • Check if You Can Get Assistance With the Down Payment. Suppose you need better credit and are interested in obtaining a mortgage. In that case, you might be concerned about coming up with a down payment or expecting to increase the amount of money you put down to compensate for your credit history. More than 2,500 organizations around the country offer aid with a down payment so that you can qualify for one of them.
  • Avoid Loans that Promise "Assured" Approval. It should be a warning sign if you see advertisements for mortgages that promise "assured" approval, regardless of the borrower's credit history. Since federal laws require a lender to check a borrower's ability to pay back a mortgage, there cannot be a "guarantee" until this process is done. You might even get guaranteed approval on these deals, but you will have to pay a lot.
  • Do not Make any Significant Alterations to Your Financial Situation. Because getting a new credit card or making a significant purchase might harm your credit score, you should avoid taking on or applying for additional debt while applying for a mortgage.


What credit score do I need to buy a house for the first time?

620 is the bare minimum for qualifying for a mortgage these days. But traditional fixed-rate conventional loans and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) often have stricter credit history requirements than government-backed mortgages like Federal Housing Administration loans.

What is a good credit score to buy a house in 2022?

Lenders will want you to get a traditional mortgage if your credit score is less than 620 in 2022. However, you will find several loan options with significantly fewer prerequisites. There are a lot of first-time buyers who are worried they do not have good enough credit to get a mortgage.

What is the lowest acceptable credit score to buy a house?

You need a minimum credit score of at least 620 to get a mortgage and buy a home. That is the bare least most loan providers will go down to when approving your application for a traditional loan. However, it is feasible to receive a loan even with a low credit score, even in the 500s.

Is 640 a good credit score to buy a house?

A credit score of 640 is therefore considered low by many mortgage lenders. While this score will likely get you approved for a loan, it will not qualify you for the best possible interest rate. Furthermore, credit scores are just one factor that underwriters consider.

What credit score is needed to buy a $250,000 house?

Most jumbo loan lenders will want borrowers to have a credit score of 700 or greater to get approved for mortgages that are more than the conforming loan limit.

What is a good FICO credit score to buy a house?

On the Fair Isaac Corporation's (FICO) scale, scores between 580 and 669 are average, scores between 670 and 739 are good, scores between 740 and 799 are great, and scores of 800 and above are exceptional.
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