What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy a House?

House Ownership.
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Switching from renting to owning a home requires planning and a solid credit mix in your credit history. If you’re considering applying for a mortgage loan, check your credit report first. Your score affects your ability to get a mortgage, as well as a good interest rate.

What Is a Good Credit Score To Buy a House?

It is possible to qualify for a mortgage even with credit considered to be poor, but you’re more likely to be approved with a credit score of 670 or higher, and very good to exceptional scores above 800 are the most attractive to lenders.

To help you gauge where you stand, review the FICO credit score scale and credit scoring model. It ranges from excellent to poor — if your credit score is poor, you need to take steps to improve your credit before you start the process of buying a home. Your creditworthiness is based on a score that can range from 300 to 850. 

Credit Score Breakdown

Credit Rating FICO Score Range
Excellent 800 and above
Very Good 740 to 799
Good 670 to 739
Fair 580 to 669
Poor 300 to 579

Exceptional Credit

  • 800 and above

With a credit score of 800 and above, you can get approved for a mortgage loan more easily. Approval is not, however, guaranteed.

An exceptional credit score is important to lenders, but you still might not get the best interest rate on the loan because of other factors. Calculating your debt-to-income ratio has a lot to do with the lender’s overall decision. For example, if you have an exceptional credit score but a high debt-to-income ratio, you might get denied.

Very Good Credit

  • 740 to 799

If your credit score is somewhere between 740 and 749, you have very good credit. Chances are high that you’ll qualify for the mortgage loan you want with a fair interest rate. Like borrowers with exceptional credit, however, you’ll need to have more than a very good credit score to get the best deal on your interest rate, mortgage fees and other considerations.

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Good Credit

  • 670 to 739

If your score is between 670 and 739, you have good credit, so you can likely qualify for a home loan, but probably won’t qualify for a mortgage with an excellent interest rate.

As long as your debt-to-income ratio is low, however, and you have a larger equity position — meaning you can afford a larger down payment — you stand a good chance of getting approved for a loan with a decent interest rate.

Fair Credit

  • 580 to 669

If your score is between 580 and 669, you have fair credit, which means you could have a tougher time getting approved for home loans with lower interest rates.

Consider applying for an FHA loan, which is available to those within this credit score range. FHA loans typically require you to make a 3% down payment, but if your score is lower than 580, you might have to make a 10% down payment.

Poor Credit

  • 300 to 579

You can still buy a home with bad credit, thanks to FHA loans and subprime mortgage loan lenders — but you won’t qualify for a good interest rate.

A subprime mortgage is a type of loan for people with poor credit histories who can’t qualify for conventional mortgages. Because subprime borrowers present a higher risk for lenders, subprime lenders charge interest rates above the prime lending rate.

Credit Score Requirements By Loan Type

Whether your credit score will be enough to secure you a loan for a home can depend on several factors, such as the type of loan you are applying for and what that loan requires. Each lender uses different criteria to approve a mortgage loan. 

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In addition to your credit score, lenders will consider factors such as your income, debt-to-income ratio and debt-to-loan ratio when deciding whether to approve your home loan application. Four common types of loans include:

  1. Conventional Loan
  2. FHA Loan
  3. VA Loan
  4. USDA Loan

1. Conventional Loan 

Loans that aren’t guaranteed or backed by any government program are considered conventional loans. Generally, these are average loan transactions are best for those with higher credit scores who can prove they have enough money for a sufficient down payment.

For a conventional loan, it would be ideal for you to have a credit score of 620 or higher. 

2. FHA Loan

An FHA loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration and are intended to provide mortgages to those with lower income. They do require you to have mortgage insurance.

Although you could qualify for an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 580, your interest rate will likely be higher than that of a borrower with a credit score of 700 or more.

3. VA Loan 

If you are a veteran, qualified service member or spouse of a veteran or service member, you could be eligible for a VA loan.

Typically, a score of 580 or higher is preferred when applying for this loan.

4. USDA Loan

If you live in certain rural or suburban areas and have an income below 115% of the area’s median income, you could qualify for a USDA loan.

In general, a credit score of 640 or higher gets accepted for these loans. 

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Why Mortgage Lenders Look at Credit Scores

Credit scores show a borrower’s ability to pay off debt. If you have a high credit score, it can indicate you are reliable and disciplined financially, which means you’re unlikely to miss a mortgage payment. Mortgage lending is a risky business, and lenders want to make sure you are able to pay the loan back.

Mortgage lenders also want to make money and minimize losses. If you have a low credit score or credit limit, that could indicate you’re a risky borrower. As a result, a lender might not approve you for a loan or might give you a loan with a higher interest rate.

Final Take To GO

Mortgage lenders use several factors to determine who they give loans to, but the credit score is a primary consideration. Knowing what you and your score look like to a lender helps you understand what you could qualify for before you start the application process. To get the best interest rate on a home loan, improve your credit score before you apply.

One of the best ways to steadily improve your credit is to pay your bills on time. Making on-time payments in full, especially for your credit accounts, will help your credit score improve each month. 


  • What is the perfect credit score to buy a house?
    • Though the perfect credit score to buy a house is 800 or higher, a conventional loan typically requires a credit score of 620 or higher. It is best to have a score of at least 740 when applying for a loan to buy a house, as it will allow you to possibly make a lower down payment or get better interest rates.
  • Is 600 a good enough credit score to buy a house?
    • You're unlikely to be approved for a conventional mortgage with a credit score of 600, but you might qualify for an FHA or VA mortgage.
    • Though there can be exceptions, lenders are typically looking for a credit score of at least 620 for a conventional loan.
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Sydney Champion contributed to the reporting for this article.


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