Minimum Credit Score to Get a Mortgage

Banks loosened their mortgage loan standards in the first part of the 2000s, according to "U.S. News & World Report" writer Luke Mullins, and this easy loan availability contributed to a housing crash. Standards, including credit score requirements, are now much tighter. You need good to excellent credit to qualify as a new home buyer, and and a large down payment helps too.

Definition

You have a credit score as long as your credit reports show at least one account that has been open for a minimum of six months, according to the Home Loan Learning Center website. The score summarizes your credit history into a convenient three-digit number that is reviewed by many creditors including mortgage lenders. Your number indicates whether you are likely to repay the home loan or are a high default risk.

Minimum Requirement

Credit scores go up to 850, and Bankrate.com website writer Sheyna Steiner advises that you usually need to have a score of 620 or better to qualify for a mortgage. You will not be considered for a home loan if your number is lower, even if you have personal assets and a good job with a high income. Lenders also look for a lengthy on-time payment history on your credit reports and a mixture of installment loans like car financing and revolving accounts like credit cards, Steiner advises.

Impact

Your credit score impacts your mortgage interest rate if it is high enough to qualify you for a mortgage. Steiner explains that you need a score of at least 740 to get the lowest available rates. Rates steadily increase as your score decreases, with borrowers at the lower tier paying about $300 more each month. The extra cost adds up to about $100,000 over the life of a typical 30-year home loan.

Considerations

You can often raise your credit score before filling out mortgage applications because many credit bureau files are full of errors. A 2007 survey by polling company Zogby discovered that 37 of people who checked their reports found mistakes. You have yearly free access to your TransUnion, Equifax and Experian files through annualcreditreport.com, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Each bureau has an online dispute form for reporting mistakes. The bureaus get 30 days to check into your claims and fix or remove the errors. Apply for a home loan once you get notification that your disputes are processed and new credit report copies showing the changes.

References

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."