Susan Baghdasarian's Blog
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future, there are a number of financial factors you’ll need to consider.
One of the factors that all lenders will consider when determining whether or not to approve you for a mortgage is credit score.
In this article, we’ll lay out the minimum and ideal credit scores that are needed for getting approved for a home loan.
Determining Your Score
As you may guess, credit reporting is a complicated business. There are three main reporting companies that lenders use to determine your credit: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These companies largely collect the same data about your finances, but can have minor variations. Lenders will take these scores and use the median or middle score to determine your credit rating.
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Americans have the ability to confirm the accuracy of their reports.
If you want to find your credit score, there are a number of online reporting agencies that will show you your report for free on an annual or monthly basis.
Minimum credit scores
Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for and which lender you are pursuing, minimum credit scores vary.
For those seeking first-time homeowner (FHA) loans, you’ll need a credit score of at least 580 to qualify for a 3.5% down payment. A score lower than this amount and you will need to put at least 10% down.
Since FHA loans are insured by the government, you are more likely to be approved if you have a low or “poor” or “bad” credit score (usually anywhere from 300 to 650).
Another type of loan that could help people with low credit is offered by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. These loans, known as VA loans, are guaranteed, in part, by the government. However, the loans are still approved and distributed by lenders who all have varying minimum credit requirements. A good benchmark is that you’ll need a score of at least 620 to be approved.
Minimum isn’t ideal
While you may get approved for a loan with a low credit, this isn’t always a reason to celebrate.
Lenders use your credit score, among other things, to help determine the interest rate of your loan. A lower score often means a higher interest rate.
While 1 or 2 percent can seem like a small number, it can mean paying tens of thousands of dollars more in interest over the span of a thirty-year loan.
To illustrate the importance of one percent, consider the following. If you owe $200,000 on a home and intend to pay it over 30 years, you will pay $103,000 in interest at 3% and $143,000 at 4% - that’s a difference of $40,000.
Rather than shooting for the minimum credit score, a better approach would be to build credit while saving for a down payment. Someone with a credit score of 740 or higher will be seen by most mortgage lenders as an ideal person to lend to.
Of course, life doesn’t always allow for the ideal situation. So, do your best to save and build credit, and be sure to shop around for the best rates when you’re ready.
When you want to buy a home, you know that good credit will be necessary. You may have heard some things about your credit score that just aren’t true. Read on to set the record straight on some of the most significant misconceptions about credit.
Checking Your Credit Only Gives You Knowledge
Checking your credit score or report will not lower your score. The only way checking a score is damaging to a credit score is in the form of credit inquiries. This is when a lender, employer, or other merchant checks your credit in order for you to either gain employment or open a new line of credit. You have the right to review your score without it being impacted.
You Shouldn’t Carry Balances
The best way to keep a high credit score is to use a credit card and pay the balance off in full each month. It’s a false belief that carrying a balance is an excellent way to increase your credit score. You need a low debt level to maintain a good credit score.
Your Age And Income Have Nothing To Do With Your Score
It’s natural that older people who have a longer credit history have a better shot a good credit score, but your age has nothing to do with your score. It all depends on when you established credit. Some people started their credit histories early because their parents opened accounts for them. Others needed to wait awhile before opening their first credit card account.
Your income also is not a factor in determining your credit score. It may be true that if you have a higher income, it’s easier to stay out of debt, but the amount of money you make has no direct impact on your score.
You Cannot Access Your Credit Score For Free
You have a legal right to obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year but, your credit score isn't included in this report. There are free services that are outside of your credit report that will give you your credit rating, but you need to search for them. It’s a good idea to check your credit report periodically, but you should also know your score especially if you're getting ready to make a big purchase such as buying a home.
Your Credit Matters More Than You Think
While you know your credit score matters when you head to get a home loan, you may not know just how many entities take your credit into account when you apply for them. Some things you may do where your credit score matters:
Apply for a job
Apply for a credit card
Rent an apartment
Sign up for phone and Internet services
Get other utilities in your home
Your credit history gives a picture to the world to let them know if you’re financially stressed. If you have gone through rough patches, there are always ways to bring your score up. If you had a judgment ruled against you in a lawsuit, for example, that would only appear on your credit report for a certain number of years. Lenders will often allow you to explain bumps in your credit report as well. Understanding credit is half the battle to a good score!
One of the most critical aspects of your financial state, when you’re buying a home, is that of your credit score. Credit scores take your entire economic history into account. That means every missed payment, every account opened, and that three-digit number represents every debt you owe. Once you obtain your credit score and assess your finances, if you realize your score needs help, you may feel desperate. The good news is that you’re not helpless. There are plenty of things that you can do to raise your credit score in a short time to increase your chances of getting a better rate on a loan for your home purchase. Read on for some tips on how to improve your credit score.
Keep An Eye On Your Credit Card Balances
One of the most impactful factors on your credit score is how much debt you have. How much debt you have versus how much available credit you have is a significant factor in your score. If you pay your balances in full each month, that’s great. Keep in mind that even if you do pay off your balances that monthly balance amount affects your score as well. Paying off your outstanding credit card balances will have a positive effect on your score.
Remember Some Debt History Is Good
Once you pay off a car or home loan, it can be tempting to want these accounts removed from your credit history. When you’re getting a home loan, the lender wants to know that you’re reliable. If you can show that you have responsibly paid off other loans that can only be a positive thing for you and your credit score. Don’t be so quick to remove old accounts that have been paid off from your report.
Pay On Time
If you pay your bills on time continuously, it can only bring your score up. If our rating needs help, this could be the most critical thing that you can do to raise your score.
Keep Your Payments Equal Over Time
Keeping your payments equal means that you shouldn’t start charging more than you usually would. You also shouldn’t begin to make lower payments than you have been. Keeping your spending and payments consistent can help you to raise and maintain a good credit score.
If you know you’ll be purchasing a home soon; you should check your credit score. If you’re not close to heading out on the home search, you can pull back a bit. While you always want to maintain good credit health, you shouldn’t be so focused on your credit score that you forget about other things like saving for a downpayment. Know that your credit score is essential in buying a home, but understand that there are many moving parts when it comes to buying a home.
Your credit score is a 3 digit number that can have a huge impact on many things that you hope to accomplish in your life. One of the biggest reasons that you need a good credit score is for buying a home. As many people rely on credit cards to fund their expenses, they consequently end up in debt. This doesn’t have a favorable impact on credit scores. Yet, it’s so important to maintain good credit.
Why The Score Is Important
A credit score is one of the most crucial factors in determining if you can qualify for a mortgage. It is an overall gauge for lenders to understand how financially responsible you are. The higher your credit score, the less risk you carry in the eyes of lenders.
What Affects A Credit Score?
Your credit score is calculated based on information that is found on your credit report. There are five different things that affect your credit score, each with a slightly different impact:
- Payment history
- Debt-to-credit utilization
- Length of credit history
- Credit mix
- New credit
What’s A Good Score?
Absolutely flawless credit is 850. Don’t worry if you’re not in that category. Only about 1/2 of one percent of consumers actually have a score this high. Once your score reaches 740 and above, you’re able to qualify for the best in mortgage rates. Even if your score is in the low 700’s, you still should be able to qualify for a good interest rate. For a conventional loan, many lenders look for a credit score of 620 and above. Being in the high 600s will help you to avoid the need for additional paperwork. You’ll also get a decent interest rate with this score.
What If You Don’t Have Credit History?
Ideally, you would have opened some type of a credit card by the time you reached the age of 20. This would help to establish credit. If you don’t have any type of credit history, there’s still a few ways that you can qualify for a mortgage. In these cases, lenders will often use alternative sources in order to determine the reliability of a party they’re lending to. Your car payment history doesn’t show up on your credit report, but a good track record helps lenders to see that you’re dependable and a responsible credit user.
What About Bad Credit?
From missed payments to errors on your credit report, there could always be some problems with a credit score. The good news is that bad credit can be fixed. There are even loan programs designed to help people with less than perfect credit scores. Generally FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans and VA loans allow for low down payments and have lenient credit score requirement.
Fixing Your Credit Score Is Fixing Your Habits
In order to repair your credit score, you’re going to need to fix the bad financial habits that got you into the situation in the first place. This means making on-time payments, spending less, and avoiding opening up any new accounts. Pay down your existing debt and try to make a fresh start form there. Also, be sure that you obtain a free copy of your credit report each year to keep on top of any errors that might be present on the report.