Can I get a mortgage if you have bad credit? It’s a question that comes to readers from time to time, and the answer is: if your credit isn’t great and you want a mortgage, you’re not always doomed, but you can pay a higher rate. According to March 17, 2022 rate data from MyFico, a borrower with a credit score just between 660 and 679 can expect to receive an average APR of 4.46%. This compares to 3.85% for someone with an excellent credit score between 760 and 850. Over time, this could lead to a borrower with a lower score paying thousands of dollars more for their mortgage.
Sometimes you won’t be able to get a mortgage at all if your score is low. Indeed, some lenders have minimum score requirements. For example, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae both require a 620 or higher, and many other lenders follow these rough guidelines as well. That said, it’s not impossible to get a loan if your credit score is lower. Here’s what the pros told us.
Look at FHA, VA and USDA mortgages
Depending on your situation, you may consider applying for an FHA or VA loan. “Both loan programs not only have less stringent credit requirements than most traditional loans, they also have less stringent income and down payment requirements,” says Jacob Channel, senior economist at LendingTree. Adds Holden Lewis, real estate and mortgage expert at NerdWallet: “If your credit score is below 720 and you don’t have a 20% down payment, consider an FHA-insured mortgage or a VA-backed loan. if you are eligible.
What is an FHA loan?
An FHA loan is a US Federal Housing Administration insurance-backed mortgage that requires a lower minimum credit score than other loans. Borrowers can have a credit score as low as 500 to qualify, but those with a score between 500 and 579 will need to deposit 10%, while those with a score above 580 will only need to deposit 3 .5%.
FHA loans also require mortgage insurance, and all FHA loans require the borrower to pay two insurance premiums; an initial mortgage insurance premium which is 1.75% of the loan amount and an annual mortgage insurance premium which varies from 0.45% to 1.05% depending on the term of the loan. If you borrow $150,000, your initial mortgage loan insurance premium would be $2,625 and your annual premium would range from $675 to $1,575, spread over 12 months.
What is a VA loan?
A VA loan is a government loan that is available to active and veteran duty personnel and their eligible surviving spouses. You can get a VA loan with no down payment and they offer lower interest rates than other mortgages, plus they don’t have a monthly mortgage insurance requirement. VA loans do not require a minimum credit score, and instead individual lenders determine their specific requirements. The VA does not limit the amount you can borrow, but the loan limit for a no down payment loan is $647,200 for many counties. Still, even without a down payment, be prepared to pay closing costs and other fees, like VA financing fees that range from 2.3% to 3.6% of your loan amount. You will also need to prove that you have two months of mortgage payments in a reserve fund.
What is a USDA loan?
A USDA loan is a zero-down payment mortgage specifically designed for very low-income rural and suburban homeowners, for homes 2,000 square feet or less. Interest rates on these loans can be as low as 1% and borrowers with credit scores below 640 may be eligible for USDA loans, but will need to be manually approved, taking into account factors such as cash reserves and low indebtedness.
Compare the prices for the best mortgage rates and conditions
Another way for low credit borrowers to increase their chances of getting a mortgage is to shop around and compare multiple lenders on rates and terms. The pros say 3-5 quotes is a good goal: “The more lenders you look at, the more likely you are to find one that’s willing to work with you,” says Channel.
But here’s something to consider: when you apply for a new line of credit, a serious request is recorded on your credit report and can potentially lower your score. “A firm credit application will stay on your credit file for 24 months and can impact your score for the first 12 months,” says Glenn Brunker, president of Ally Home. This guide will help you learn how to shop around for a mortgage without hurting your credit score too much.
If you’re intimidated by shopping around on your own, using a mortgage broker can be helpful in finding special rates as well as saving your time and expense.
Improve your credit score before you apply for a mortgage
The good news is that your current credit score isn’t permanent — and improving your score can lower your borrowing costs and give you more options to choose from when taking out a loan. To do this, pay your bills on time, repay your debts and avoid opening new lines of credit. “After your payment history, your debt-to-equity ratio, also called credit utilization ratio, is the second most important factor in your credit score. As you pay down your balances, your credit availability increases, and in short, the lower your credit card, retail store, gas station, and HELOC debt, the higher your FICO score,” says Brunker.
While fraud and credit reporting errors are out of your hands, they are known and if left undetected, you could pay the price in the form of a lower credit score. “If you find any inaccuracies in your report, you should contact the appropriate credit reporting agency immediately to report the issue,” says Brunker.
Improve your debt ratio before submitting your application for a mortgage
Your debt-to-income ratio is the sum of your monthly debt payments like your mortgage, car payments, student loans, and credit card payments, divided by your gross monthly income. Lenders generally like to see a DTI ratio no higher than 36%, while a DTI of 43% is generally the highest a borrower can have while qualifying for a mortgage.
Save more for a down payment on a house
As a general rule, the more money you can spend on a down payment, the better the rate you are likely to receive. With that in mind, those putting 20% or more on a home can generally expect to get a very competitive rate, assuming they earn a decent income and have a good credit rating. “Of course, a down payment isn’t the ultimate solution when it comes to getting a good mortgage rate, and even if you can’t afford to put down a lot, you can still get a good rate. if you have a great credit rating,” Channel says.
Remember to wait about getting a mortgage
Because a higher rate can make monthly payments hundreds of dollars more expensive — and cost thousands of dollars in interest over time — Channel says it might make more sense for some poorer borrowers to delay payment. getting a mortgage and instead working to boost their rating. “The higher your score, the more likely you are to find a lender and the better your rate will be,” Channel says.