What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A Home?
By Mark B. Huntley, Esq.
Last Updated 9/3/19
Summary: The minimum required credit score to buy a home differs by which loan type you apply for; Conventional, FHA, VA, or USDA.
Buying your own home is the American dream, but qualifying for a mortgage can be a nightmare.
In this article, we will wake you up with the truth to what credit score you will need to buy a home for each mortgage type.
We will review the minimum credit scores needed to buy a home with the four most common mortgages; a conventional mortgage, FHA loan, VA loan, and USDA real estate mortgage.
If you are unfamiliar with your credit score, you can learn how to check your credit score for free here.
Credit Score Required For Conventional Mortgages
Conventional mortgages offer the best interest rates with multiple loan options at the least amount of cost.
To qualify for a Fannie Mae guaranteed fixed-rate conventional mortgage you will have to have a 620+ credit score.
A 620 credit score is not the strongest indicator to lenders that you are a safe bet.
Conventional Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) require a minimum credit score of 640 with a 75% loan to value ratio.
FHA Loan Lowest Credit Score Requirements
Technically, you can qualify for an FHA home loan with a credit score between 500 - 579 and a 10% down payment.
I say technically because, in reality, it will be challenging to find someone who will give you this unicorn of a loan if your credit score is below 580.
The best advice I can give you if your credit score is in this range would be to spend a few months cleaning up your credit report and building your credit score.
MINIMUM CREDIT SCORE REQUIRED
I know it can be done because I increased my credit almost 200 points in six months using the strategies we write about here at Credit Knocks.
The standard FHA qualifying credit score is 580, with only 3.5% required for your down payment for maximum financing.
Credit Score Needed For A VA Home Loan
Veterans Administration-backed loans offer some of the most forgiving mortgage requirements, and often you can move into the home with no money down.
Of course, to qualify, you must have served in America’s armed forces and meet all eligibility requirements.
You can qualify for a VA home mortgage up to the maximum guaranteed amount with a credit score of 620.
While there is no maximum on the eligible VA loan amount, once you pass the max guaranteed loan than higher credit scores may be required to qualify.
USDA Loan Credit Score Requirements
The most difficult home loan to qualify for by credit score is the USDA urban housing loan.
To qualify for a USDA loan, you will need a 640 credit score through their Guaranteed Approval underwriting system.
USDA does not set a minimum credit score, and you may qualify with a lower score, but the loan will have to be manually underwritten.
Other Factors That Affect You Qualifying For A Mortgage
Just because you have a credit score high enough to qualify for a mortgage doesn’t mean that you will be automatically approved.
If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.
To qualify for a mortgage, you need to have a steady job with a history of making enough money to make the monthly loan payments.
Another significant factor lenders will look at is your debt to income ratio.
Your debt to income ratio is the total amount of monthly income you earn divided by all of your monthly expenses.
For instance, if you earn $1,000 a month in total income and have a car loan, rent, utilities, and other expenses totaling $400, your debt to income ratio would be 40%.
Lenders will also look at the length of time you have worked at your job and how often you have changed jobs.
Hopefully, you found the minimum credit scores required to buy a home within your range.
If not, many credit-building opportunities can boost your credit score in 30 days.
Keep in mind that the higher your credit score the better interest rates and more loan options that will be available.