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Can You Buy a Home if I Have Bad Credit?

Posted by Jim Berg Team on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 12:14pm.

Your biggest issue will be your loan options... depending on your credit score.

The FHA has their own guidelines for loans they will accept and may be your best bet. Keep in mind that FHA is not a bank; it’s a government agency that insures loans from FHA approved lenders. While the FHA will have its rules, a bank will also have its own rules as well. Most banks today are only willing to finance FHA loans with credit scores of 640 and above. The FHA however will allow loans with credit scores as low as 540 with 20% down. Additional requirements are as follows:

• 2 Years of steady employment, preferably with same employer. Last 2 years Income should be the same or increasing.
• Credit report should have less than two 30 day late payments in last 2 years with a min credit score of 640+
• Bankruptcies must be at least 2 years old, with perfect credit since discharge.
• Foreclosures and Short Sales must be at least three years old, with perfect credit since.
• Your new mortgage payment should be no more than 40% of your gross (before taxes) income.
• You will need a minimum down payment of 3.5% of the purchase price. The down payment can be a gift.
• Social Security Card–many people don’t know where their card is. You will need it.

Conventional loans are typically for borrowers with 10-20% to put down and good credit scores. Most lenders in today’s market require a middle credit score of 660 or better to qualify for a conventional loan. To get your best deal you will need a credit score of at least 720. Since conventional loans are approved through underwriting engines created by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the higher your credit scores are the better rate you will get. Conventional loans currently require a minimum of 5% down.

Interview mortgage brokers and obtain recommendations from them to find the loan that works best for you. Your new mortgage broker will then be able to show you an entire suite of loan options and pre-qualify you for a home that you can afford with your income. In the mean time work with your broker on improving your credit score. You’d be surprised how much improvement you can make in a year or so.

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