SHARE

What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a House?

One of the most important parts of preparing to buy a home is having a solid credit score. Building up your credit over time shows that you’re capable of paying off a mortgage, and it’s one of the largest factors that impacts your interest rate. If you’re wondering what credit score is needed to buy a house, read on to learn more about how it works and affects your mortgage loan eligibility.

Understanding What a Credit Score Is

A credit score is a number ranked between 300 and 850 that represents an individual’s creditworthiness. It can be impacted by factors such as how much credit is used, how much credit is available, number of inquiries in the last 12 months, how many lines of credit are open, outstanding loans or debt and the proportion of loan balances to loan amounts, and any late payments to credit cards and loans.

What is Considered a Good Credit Score to Buy a Home?

Each different type of home loan comes with different credit score requirements, which we’ll cover more in detail below. To get a favorable rate on most loans, it’s important to have a credit score of at least 600 or higher and to have a score of at least 650 for conventional loans. The higher your credit score, the more options and amenable rates will be available to you.

Here is one breakdown of how credit rates are categorized when it comes to eligibility for mortgage loans:

  • Exceptional: 800-850
  • Very good: 740-799
  • Good: 670-739
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Very poor: 300-579

(source: UFCU)

What Is the Minimum Credit Score to Get a Mortgage?

In general, borrowers need a minimum of 580 to be eligible for an FHA loan, with requirements typically running higher around 620 for a conventional loan.

What Is the Best Credit Score to Buy a House?

While you might be able to qualify for a mortgage with a lower score of 580 or 620, a higher score will give you more options for financing and much lower interest rates. As you prepare to buy a home, building up your credit will be advantageous no matter what type of loan you plan on using.

How Your Credit Score Impacts Home Loans

Fico Score

Your FICO score is the commonly-used official credit score used by lenders to determine your mortgage eligibility. It takes into account five areas of creditworthiness: payment history, current debt, credit history, types of credit, and new credit accounts.

Credit Bureaus

Lenders typically look at FICO scores from any or all of three different credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each bureau uses a slightly different form of the FICO method to produce its own version of the score, which is why lenders like to cross-reference them when considering your application.

How the Pandemic has Impacted Creditworthiness

While unemployment rates have risen due to the impact of COVID-19 on the United States and countries around the world, credit scores are doing well and continue to rise nationwide. If your credit score has dropped due to unforeseeable consequences of COVID-19, consider contacting your lender, bank or credit card company to ask for deferment options for your payments. Deferment or forbearance on loans or money owed allows you to delay payments and is not reported as a late payment to credit bureaus.

Department of Veterans Affairs

In an effort to help those who have previously served or who are active service members of the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not carry a strict credit score requirement for VA loan applications. Private lenders that offer the VA loan do still have their own credit requirements with a typical minimum of 580, but make sure to shop around for several options to get a low rate.

What Else Do Mortgage Lenders Consider?

Credit score isn’t the only aspect of your credit history that lenders will look at when reviewing your application.

Credit Utilization

The amount of credit that you use month-to-month is one way that lenders assess your financial stability. Using a healthy amount of credit without maxing out your limit or letting payments go overdue generally tells lenders that you will be able to make on-time mortgage payments.

Can You Get A Home Loan With Bad Credit?

Government-backed loans are great opportunities for applicants with lower credit scores. An FHA loan can go to buyers with scores as low as 580 (although you may be required to pay a larger down payment percentage than the traditional 3.5%). VA and USDA loans also offer lower credit score requirements, although meeting a minimum score limit is still required by lenders.

Other Options for Lower Credit Scores

Lenders may consider applicants with lower credit scores on a case-by-case basis. If you apply for a loan with a low credit score, you have a few options. Lenders will sometimes allow you to find a co-signer, who will sign the loan and assume all responsibility in case you default on your payments. You can also look into DPA (Down Payment Assistance) programs, which sometimes offer assistance to applicants with low credit scores.

It’s also important to remember that a bad credit score isn’t permanent. By taking time to make regular payments and pay off outstanding debt over time, you can build your credit score up in order to qualify for lower interest rates.

Minimum Credit Score by Loan Type

While credit score limits are set by each independent lender, here are the goalpost credit limits for well-known and popular loan types:

Loan Type

Minimum Credit Score Requirements

Maximum Loan Amount

Average Interest Rate for 30-year loan

(as of 4.14.2021)

FHA with 3.5% down payment

580

Varies based on the median income in the geographic area, from $356,362– $822,375

2.940%

FHA with 10% down payment

500, but private lenders may require higher

Varies based on an area’s median income, from $356,362– $822,375

2.940%

Conventional 

620

Varies based on the median income in the geographic area, from $548,250 to $822,375

3.250%

Jumbo loan

680

Anything above an area’s conforming loan limit, from $548,250 to $822,375

3.000%

USDA loan

None, but 640 is preferred

$285,000

2.380%

VA loan

None, but 620 is preferred

$548,250

2.525%


(Source: CreditKarma)

Finding the best loan option for your credit score

What credit score is needed to buy a house? The answer can depends on a variety of things such as entirely on what type of loan you are eligible for and interested in. Your credit score is one of the bigger factors that determines your goes into your approved interest rate with different lenders. However, if your score is less than stellar, there are some loan options with lower minimum score requirements. You can also make regular payments to improve your credit slowly over time in order to qualify for better rates on your mortgage.

Working with a mortgage lender can help you find out what options are best for you. At ZeroMortgage, we aim to make sure the mortgage process leaves you feeling like a rockstar. To learn more, check out our learning center or get in contact with one of our experts.

 

Put That Credit Score to Work Today!

All material is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as individual financial, investment, or legal advice or instruction. ZeroMortgage does not guarantee the quality, accuracy, completeness or timelines of the information in this publication. While efforts are made to verify the information provided, the information should not be assumed to be error free. Some information in the publication may have been provided by third parties and has not necessarily been verified by ZeroMortgage. ZeroMortgage, its affiliates, and subsidiaries do not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, or exemplary, or other damages whatsoever and howsoever caused, arising out of or in connection with the use of this publication or in reliance on the information, including any personal or pecuniary loss, whether the action is in contract, tort (including negligence) or other tortious action. ZeroMortgage does not provide tax advice. Please contact your tax adviser for any tax related questions.

This page last updated: March 21, 2022