A credit score isn’t the only deciding factor on your mortgage application, but it’s a significant one. So when you’re house shopping, it’s important to know where your credit stands and how to use it to get the best mortgage rate possible.
First, let’s talk about credit scores.
Your credit score (commonly called a FICO Score) can range from 300 at the low end to 850 at the high end. A score of 740 or above is generally considered very good, but you don’t need that score or above to buy a home. Credit scores are maintained by the national credit bureaus and include debt like credit cards, auto loans or student loans.
Your score is influenced by many factors, but the two biggest are whether you pay your bills on time and how much debt you owe. Having a credit score based on these factors gives lenders a quick way to see if you’re likely to pay your future bills – like your mortgage, for example.
Credit score and mortgages
Though your credit score is a big factor in the mortgage process, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to get a mortgage if you don’t have a great score. Lenders will also consider your income, employment history and debt, along with the amount of the mortgage you’re requesting and your down payment. If lenders review all the information and determine that you are likely to make your mortgage payments in full and on time, you may be able to get better loan terms.
The minimum credit score needed for most mortgages is typically around 620. However, government-backed mortgages like Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans typically have lower credit requirements than conventional fixed-rate loans and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). Our mortgage loan officers can help you figure out what mortgage options would best fit your situation and lifestyle.
Boosting your credit score
If you have bad credit but are a first-time home buyer, start maximizing your score before you begin house hunting. Check your credit score so you know where you stand, review your credit history to make sure it’s accurate and remember to consistently pay your bills on time. You can check your credit score for free with our tool if you’re a current U.S. Bank customer.
When lenders see multiple applications for credit reported in a short period of time, it can discourage them from giving you a loan. So here’s a short list of things to try to avoid when applying for a mortgage so that you can keep your options open.
- Avoid opening new credit cards.
- Avoid closing credit cards (since this can also impact your credit score).
- Avoid applying for new loans.
- Avoid co-signing on any new loans.
Looking for more ways to improve your credit score? Here are some credit-boosting tips that can help.
You don’t have to have a top credit score to get a mortgage, but it will help you compete for the house you want by potentially giving you more financing options. So, take steps to try to boost your credit, avoid applying for credit products at the same time you’re house hunting and talk over your options with a mortgage loan officer who can help.
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