Your credit score is an important piece of financial information that influences your ability to purchase a home. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with 850 being the best possible score.
Our real estate agents know that lenders will use your credit score when determining whether to approve your mortgage application. Here are a few things you should know about your credit score and homeownership as you prepare to buy your first home.
- There's a Wide Variation in Acceptable Credit Scores
The required credit score to purchase a home depends on the mortgage that you intend to use. For example, if you're applying for a conventional home loan, you'll likely need a credit score of at least 620. However, if you're interested in a jumbo home loan (a mortgage that exceeds conforming loan limits), it's best to have a credit score of 700 or higher. Some loans are ideal for buyers with less than stellar credit. An FHA loan has a minimum credit score requirement of 500. You'll need to make a 10 percent down payment if your credit score is between 500 and 579. For borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher, FHA loans permit a down payment as low as 3.5 percent of the home's purchase price. USDA and VA mortgage programs don't have a specified minimum credit score. Instead, the lenders who issue these loans are permitted to set their own requirements. Generally, to qualify for a USDA or VA mortgage, you'll want a minimum credit score of 640.
- Your Credit Score Affects Your Interest Rate and Loan Costs
Your lender will use your credit score (along with other financial information, like your debt to income ratio and employment status) to decide what interest rate to offer for your loan. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. Many lenders also use your credit score when determining the costs associated with a mortgage. For example, buyers with higher credit scores are offered lower PMI (private mortgage insurance) rates. They may also qualify for mortgage programs with minimal mortgage points or lower loan costs.
- There are Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Credit
Before you start attending showings for Round Rock homes for sale, it's best to take steps to ensure your credit is at its best. Start by making all of your loan payments on time. If you've had late payments in the past, the effects of those late payments will decrease over time. Check the balances on your credit cards. If you're utilizing more than 30 percent of your available credit, pay them down, so your utilization is under the 30 percent mark. Ideally, do this for each card and for your credit card balance as a whole. For example, if you have a $4,000 balance on one card with a $10,000 limit, pay the balance down, so it's less than $3,000. If you have a card with a $2,000 balance and $10,000 credit limit and another with a $5,000 balance with a $10,000 limit, focus on paying the second card down, so it's less $3,000. Thoroughly review your credit reports and dispute any information that's incorrect. If you only have one type of debt on your credit report, consider opening another product to diversify your credit usage. For example, if you only have credit cards, take out an installment loan (and vice versa).
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