Do you need great credit and a big down payment to buy a home?

Cindy, one of my clients that I helped finance their first home, emailed me this question:

"I know home loans have changed a lot but is it true that you can’t get a home loan with a credit score under 700 and 20% down?"

Not true.  Although I’m sure it feels that way and I’ve even heard some in the media make similar wrong statements…it’s no wonder you would have this question.

Having a high credit score and significant down payment certainly doesn’t hurt a home buyer.  It is true that many of the mortgages of recent years are no longer available.  And actually a 700 credit score pays more for their interest rate than someone with a 720 credit score now.   Conventional underwriting guidelines continue to tighten during these historic times.

FHA continues to be a very strong option for home buyers and home owners needing to refinance.   Even when FHA begins to implement risk based pricing for mortgage insurance, as reported by Kenneth R. Harney, borrowers can still have 3% down and lower credit scores:

"On 30-year mortgages with down payments of 10% or more, applicants with FICO scores above 680 will qualify for the lowest premiums — 1.25% of the loan amount upfront and annual renewal premium payments of 0.5. Borrowers with down payments of less than 5% and poor credit scores — FICOs ranging from 500 to 559 — will be charged premiums of 2.25% up front and 0.55% annually. All borrowers will continue to receive the same market-based interest rate. Under the current system, borrowers pay uniform 1.5% premiums upfront and 0.5% annually."

One thing to keep in mind is that borrowers do need to have clean credit (no lates) for the past 12 months.  And even if FHA allows a 500 credit score, many lenders have their own underwriting guidelines that may not allow it and they have higher rates for lower credit scores.

To learn more about FHA, please check out my FHA Resource Center or contact me.   Mortgage Master is proud to have our Full Eagle.  We are a direct endorsed HUD lender…what does this mean to you?   We have an FHA underwriter on site at our King County office…we’ve been providing FHA insured mortgages to Pacific Northwest families for over 30 years.   

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