Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved for a home loan. But that doesn't mean qualifying with a lower score is impossible. Here, we'll show you how to get a mortgage with low credit.
Before we talk about how to get a mortgage with poor credit, let's review what that actually means. Credit scores range from a low of 300 to a perfect score of 850. Within that range, here's how FICO (the most popular scoring model) classifies different scores:
|Credit Score Range||Classification of Score|
|800 or above||Exceptional|
|740 to 799||Very good|
|670 to 739||Good|
|580 to 669||Fair|
If you're wondering, "What credit score do I need to qualify for a mortgage?" you generally need a score of 620 or higher for a conventional mortgage. This is a type of mortgage not backed by a government agency. If your score is lower, your options may be limited -- but they still exist. Keep in mind that 620 is smack in the middle of the "fair" range. So you may be thinking: "Why wouldn't I manage to snag a conventional mortgage with a credit score of 600 or 590?"
The reason is that a home loan is a major undertaking and usually not a small amount of money. As such, lenders may be more careful about extending credit to you in mortgage form.
There are different ways to buy a home if your credit is low, including some for borrowers with credit scores below 620. Look at our list of the best mortgage lenders for bad credit and check out the following options:
If you're going into your mortgage search with low credit, it pays to approach the process strategically:
Having poor credit could make your home loan more expensive. The best available rates are generally for borrowers with the highest scores. If your credit needs work and you move forward with your mortgage application anyway, you could get stuck with a higher interest rate than necessary for the length of your loan.
Case in point: If you have a credit score of 760 or above, as of this writing, you might qualify for an APR of 3.080% on a 30-year fixed $200,000 mortgage. That would leave you with a monthly payment of $852 for principal and interest, and you'll pay a total of $106,825 in interest over the life of your loan. But if your credit score is a 620, your interest rate could jump to 4.669%. That, in turn, will give you a monthly payment of $1,033 for principal and interest and leave you paying a total of $172,037 in interest over the life of your loan.
But rates aside, if your credit score is low, you may want to think about why that is before getting a mortgage. Is it simply a matter of not having a lengthy credit history? Or is it because you're not in a strong place financially and have frequently been late with bills or run up a high tab on your credit cards? If it's the latter, then it might be a good idea to delay your mortgage application and work to improve not just your score, but also your entire financial picture.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage is to find out how to rebuild your credit. Here's how:
But remember, it's not just your credit score that's evaluated when you apply for a mortgage. You'll also want to work on:
Poor credit doesn't have to prevent you from buying a home, and there are plenty of loan options out there for borrowers whose scores need improving. But before you rush to take out a mortgage, it could pay to invest a little time and get your credit score to a healthier place. Doing so could open even more borrowing options -- and more affordable ones at that.
If you want to uncover more about the best mortgage lenders for low rates and fees, our experts have created a shortlist of the top mortgage companies. Some of our experts have even used these lenders themselves to cut their costs.
Although you usually need a credit score of 620 or above to qualify for a mortgage, some mortgage programs allow you to get a home loan with a lower credit score (or even no credit score at all).
If you're hoping for a conventional mortgage, a credit score below 620 may prevent you from getting approved.
You have several options for getting a mortgage if your credit is poor:
If you are confident you can afford your mortgage payments despite your poor credit, it may not be a bad idea to move forward with a home loan. But if your credit is poor due to financial problems, then you're better off cleaning up your finances and then buying a home.
Bad credit doesn't have to stop you from getting a mortgage. Here's what to do:
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.