The Credit Scores You Need to Buy a Home

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Mortgage lenders check your credit history before approving a home-buying loan. Your credit scores are crucial to getting the amount you want to borrow at a good interest rate.

Your income vs. your debt, your payment history, the length of time you’ve had credit, new credit you’ve opened, and the types of credit you owe (such as student loans or consumer debt) are all calculated in a valuation system known as credit or FICO scores.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850, but because mortgage loans are so large and have such a long payback period, most lenders require scores between 520 to 700 and above, depending on the type of loan.

“Conforming” loans are guaranteed by the federal government, including FHA or VA loans. They require a minimum score of 500 to 520 and any scores lower than 580 will increase the minimum down- payment required to 10%. If you’re married or have a co-borrower, their scores must meet the same requirements. All FHA loans require private mortgage insurance, which reduces the amount you can borrow.

“Conventional” loans are federally sponsored by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to be packaged into securities bundles and sold on the secondary market. Lenders can manage risk by requiring scores of 700 and above, using loan-level price adjustments, based on loan-to-value ratios and credit scores.

For any loan, the larger your down- payment, the lower your credit score can be. Credit scores also impact interest rates. The better the score, the better the rate.

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Posted in Homebuyer Advice.