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If you’re just starting the homebuying process, you’ve probably read stories about just how much your credit score can influence your ability to get a mortgage. While it’s true that you need a good credit score for the strongest interest rates and loan terms, less-than-perfect credit doesn’t have to be a roadblock to your dream of homeownership.
By knowing the ins and outs of how your score can affect your mortgage rate, you can build and improve your credit before closing on your new home.
Your credit score is among the more important factors a lender considers before deciding whether to approve you for a mortgage. But they also consider your debt-to-income ratio, your savings and how much money you have available to put toward a down payment.
Beyond helping to determine whether you can even get a mortgage, your score also plays a large role in the interest rate and payment terms you’re ultimately approved for. If your credit score is below average — which experts say is anywhere from 650 to 699 — lenders may factor in risk-based pricing when quoting your mortgage details.
To offset the perceived risk of taking on a borrower with a low credit score, a lender may increase the interest rate on a mortgage. It means that a credit score of 650 might get a higher interest rate than a credit score of 720, which could cost you tens of thousands more over the life of your mortgage.
There’s no concrete answer, but experts say that with a score of 660 can help you qualify for a home loan. Scores of 660 or lower might mean ending up with a high interest rate and poor loan terms.
To qualify for an FHA loan, which often requires only 3.5% of your purchase amount as a down payment, you’ll need a minimum credit score of 580. However, because many lenders use underwriters that assume the financial risk, you may be able to get around the minimum if the underwriter agrees to an exception if you carry minimal debt or can prove substantial savings.
Right now, the average American’s credit score is 695, which is relatively high. For top-notch rates, aim to improve your credit score to around 740 before applying for a mortgage.
Unless you’re a veteran who qualifies for a home loan from Veterans Affairs, you’ll need credit score of at least 500. You’ll need to meet that same minimum to qualify for a 10% down payment for a loan through the Federal Housing Administration.
If you don’t meet those requirements, getting a parent, spouse or someone else with better credit to cosign for your loan could improve your chances of approval for a traditional mortgage. Otherwise, you may need to work on improving your credit before applying for a mortgage.
About 90% of lenders use your FICO Score, the most widely used among other credit scores. But different versions of FICO Score are used for different types of loans.
When applying for a mortgage loan, your lender will likely pull these three scores:
Credit scores are broken down into categories that can help you gauge the quality of your creditworthiness and how far you must go to improve it:
Yes. A general idea of your credit score can simplify searching for and ultimately buying a home.
With your credit report and score in hand, you can:
If your credit isn’t where you’d like it to see it for the lowest interest rates and best terms, you have a few tactics to improve it before you apply for a mortgage:
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Your credit score plays a key role in a lender’s decision to approve you for a mortgage loan. Before you submit your next mortgage application, know your credit score and working on ways to improve it for the strongest interest rates and repayment terms you’re eligible for.
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