Can you get a mortgage if you have bad credit? With certain loan programs and lenders, it may be possible—especially if you can make a big down payment, prove large cash reserves and have a low debt-to-income ratio.
About 15% of American consumers have credit scores in the 500 to 599 range on an 850-point scale, which is considered poor to fair credit, according to FICO. Another 10% are in the 600 to 649 range, which is considered fair credit. You’re in good company if your score is less than ideal, and the right lender can help you get a mortgage or explain how to get approved in the future.
What Is a Bad Credit Score for a Mortgage?
A bad credit score for a mortgage is one that doesn’t allow you to get a loan, only lets you get a more expensive loan or requires a larger down payment in order to qualify for a loan. What’s considered “bad” depends on the type of loan you’re applying for: conventional, FHA, VA or USDA. Most successful homebuyers—about 93%—have credit scores of 650 or higher, according to Ellie Mae, a technology solutions provider for mortgage lenders.
A steady income, a small amount of debt compared to your income and a significant down payment can help you get a mortgage despite a bad credit score. But if your score is below 500, you’ll almost certainly be rejected. A recent foreclosure or bankruptcy can also really hurt your score and keep you from getting a loan for at least one year—and possibly several years.
What Is the Minimum Credit Score to Get a Mortgage?
The minimum credit score to get a mortgage depends on which type of mortgage you’re applying for. It also depends on which lender you’re working with. Some lenders are more willing to work with low-credit-score borrowers than others.
Conventional Mortgage Credit Score Requirements
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two huge companies that help make conventional mortgages widely available, have strict credit score requirements for borrowers making the minimum down payment of 3%: Freddie Mac’s minimum credit score is 660 and Fannie Mae’s is 620. Freddie will allow a credit score as low as 620, too, but only with a down payment of at least 25%.