Credit scores and Home loan approval

When you’re in the market for a new home, your credit score is more than just a number. Your  credit score is what your lenders will use to determine if you qualify for a mortgage as well as the interest rates you will be offered. Therefore it is crucial to understand how credit scores impact  home loans approval process. Having a clear understanding between these two factors will lead to securing favorable mortgage terms on your loan term. Even a 0.25% difference in a mortgage rate can have a serious financial impact over a 30 year mortgage. Given the higher rates in the economy at the moment and the impact of inflation hitting us harder in terms of financials you need to do absolutely everything possible to get good rates.

Topics Covered:

Fundamentals of How Credit Scores Impact Home Loans
Credit Score Tiers for Home Loans
Impact on Loan Approval
Effect on Interest Rates
What Can You Do?
How Can CreditU Help?
Key Insights

Fundamentals of How Credit Scores Impact Home Loans

Credit scores are calculated using data from your credit reports. Your credit report include information on your history of debt repayment, the amount of credit you’re using, the types of credit you have, and the length of your credit history. Credit Scores can range anywhere from 300 to 850. When you have a higher credit score it shows that you have better creditworthiness. This is a favorable picture in the eye of your lenders and potentially better mortgage rates. When it comes to home loans, lenders use your credit score as a snapshot of your financial reliability. It helps them gauge the risk they take on by lending you money. The higher your credit score, the lower the perceived risk, which can lead to more favorable loan terms.

Your credit score is calculated most often with the FICO scoring model and is derived from the information on your credit reports. Credit Reporting companies provide these information to derive your credit worthiness. 

Credit Score Tiers for Home Loans

Lenders typically classify credit scores into tiers:

  • Excellent (720 and above): Borrowers with excellent credit have access to the lowest interest rates and best loan terms.
  • Good (690-719): Good scores can still fetch competitive interest rates, though they may not be the lowest.
  • Fair (630-689): Fair scores may lead to higher interest rates, and lenders may require a larger down payment.
  • Poor (629 and below): It’s challenging to get approved with poor scores, and if you do, interest rates will be significantly higher.

One of the main financial priorities in your life should be to improve your credit scores. Constantly monitoring your credit score, keeping tabs on your credit reports for accuracy are some of the few things you can do. In addition, you have to make responsible credit choices, Pay your bills on time, and manage your debt repayment effectively to maintain or improve your credit scores.

Credit Score Impact on Loan Approval

A credit score is essential a yard stick for the lenders to determine your credit worthiness. Depending on how high or low your score is they determine your ability to pay pack your loan . Therefore, a low credit score doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting a home loan. However, it does limit your options. Government backed loans like FHA loans may be available with scores as low as 500, but they come with strings attached, like higher insurance premiums.

Conventional loans typically require a score of at least 620. If your score is below this threshold, focus on improving your credit before applying for a mortgage.

Let’s look at an example of how a higher and lower credit score may impact your mortgage.

Mary and John are buying their first home worth $450,000. John is the principle borrower given his great credit score at 790. The lender agreed to offer them a 4.5% rate with a 20% down payment.  With the down payment he applies for a 30-year fixed  mortgage of 360,000.  Not including taxes, insurance or any other fees Mary and John would have to pay $1824. 

If Mary were to be the principle borrower she will have to deal with a credit score of 690 – about 100 points less than her partner’s credit score. With the same amount of down payment the lender only agreed to a mortgage rate of 5% for the loan amount of $360,000. Not including taxes, insurance and any other fees now they will have to pay  $1933.  You might say it’s really no big deal because t is only a $109 per month. However, in the long-term you will pay  $1308 more per year and a total $39.240 in 30 years!!

Therefore, having a better credit score always works towards your advantage when applying for a home loan.

What if your Credit Score is Low, and You are Still In the Market for a Home Loan? What are Your Options?

If you are considering a conventional mortgage the standard requirement is a credit score of at least a 620. However, if you are not there yet and you are in the market for a home here are your options:

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration. If you’re a first-time home buyer, FHA loans can be your likely option given the lesser qualifying requirements. You will need to have a credit score of at least 500 to get an FHA loan through most lenders. However, the lower your score. the more you will  need as a down payment.  FHA loans also comes with additional requirements. One such requirement is that you can only use this type to purchase a primary residence.

VA Loans

If you’re a veteran, surviving spouse of a veteran, or currently serving in the armed forces, you could qualify for a VA loan. This type of loans are backed by the Department of Veteran affairs and lets borrowers purchase a home with $0 down. As with any type of mortgage this would require a borrower to meet certain requirements as well. There are no specific credit score minimums by the VA, but most lenders tend to have one in place.

USDA Loans

A USDA loan is another loan backed by a government department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A loan from the USDA allows you to buy a home in a qualifying rural area with a $0 down payment.

Effect on Interest Rates

Interest rates are where credit scores really pack a punch. A difference of just 1% in interest can add up to a substantial amount over a 30-year mortgage term. For example, on a $300,000 loan, that 1% could mean paying over $60,000 more in interest.

Lenders offer tiered interest rates based on credit scores. The best rates go to those with scores above 740, while lower scores mean higher rates. This is because lenders view borrowers with lower scores as higher risk and charge more to mitigate that risk.

What You Can Do To Balance It Out?

Check Your Credit Report

Before applying for a mortgage, obtain your credit report from the three major credit bureaus. Ensure all information is accurate and dispute any errors you find. You are eligible for a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus once every year.

Improve Your Credit Score

Pay down existing debt, especially high-interest credit cards. Keep your credit utilization low and avoid taking on new debt before applying for a home loan. Having a good credit score is a good start to the overall homebuying process.

Save for a Larger Down Payment

A larger down payment can sometimes offset a lower credit score. A cash influx can reduce the lender’s risk and potentially lead to better loan terms.

Shop Around

Different lenders have different criteria and rates. Shop around to find the best mortgage rates and terms for your credit situation. Do not settle at the first offer. Look at credit unions and smaller local lending options before you settle as they often offer better rates than the bigger lenders.


How Can CreditU Help?


Your credit score is most often the primary determinant of you receiving a good mortgage rate in the homebuying process.. Thankfully, CreditU, our all-new finance app, is here to help you organize your finances and keep track of your credit scores. With CreditU, you can quickly and easily set up a budget that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. The app provides you with a clear and concise overview of your income, expenses, and savings, making it easy to stay on top of your finances.

One of the most significant benefits of using CreditU is its ability to help you set and maintain financial goals. Whether you are considering buying a new home, or simply trying to manage your everyday finances, the app makes it easy to create and track your progress towards your goals.

Overall, CreditU is an excellent tool for anyone looking to take control of their finances. With its intuitive interface, customizable budgeting tools, and powerful goal-setting features, the app makes it easy to create a budget that works for you and to stay on track towards your financial goals. So why wait? Download CreditU today and start taking control of your financial future!


Key Insights – How Credit Scores Impact Home Loans

  1. Your credit score is a key factor in the home loan approval process and in determining the interest rate you’ll receive.
  2. The better your score, the more options and better terms you’ll have available.
  3. By understanding how credit scores affect mortgages and taking steps to improve your score, you can position yourself for a successful home purchase with a loan that fits comfortably within your financial plan.
  4. Remember, a little legwork now can lead to substantial savings down the road.


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Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Dilini Dias Dahanayake