When it comes to mortgages and credit scores, there are two really important questions to ask:
–What credit score do I need to qualify for a mortgage?
–What credit score do I need to get the lowest interest rate on a mortgage?
These different but related questions are important if you are looking to buy a home. And the second question is particularly important. With a high FICO score, you can literally save tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a home loan. So let’s take a look at both questions. And if you don’t know you score, be sure to get you free credit score.
What credit score do you need to qualify for a mortgage?
The first thing to keep in mind is that qualifying for a mortgage involves a lot more than just a credit score. While your FICO score is a very important ingredient, it is just one factor. Lenders also look at your income and level of debt, among other things.
As a rule of thumb, however, a credit score below 620 will make buying a home very difficult. A FICO score below 620 is considered sub-prime. In the past there were mortgage companies that specialized in sub-prime mortgages. Because of the challenges in the credit market over the last year or so, however, sub-prime loans have become difficult if not impossible to obtain.
A FICO score between 620 and 650 is considered fair to good credit. But keep in mind, this range of credit scores does not guarantee you will qualify for a mortgage, and if you do qualify, it won’t get you the lowest interest rate possible. Still, to buy a home aim for a score of at least 620, recognizing that other factors weigh in the decision and that some banks may require a higher score.
What credit score do you need to get a low rate mortgage?
It use to be that a score of about 720 would yield the lowest mortgage rates available. Today, the best rates kick in with a FICO score of 760. And interest rates go up significantly as your credit score drops. To give you an idea, the following table shows current rates by credit score and calculates a monthly principal and interest payment based on a $300,000 loan:
FICO Score & 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage
FICO Score APR Monthly Payment 760-850 4.643% $1,546 700-759 4.865% $1,586 680-699 5.042% $1,618 660-679 5.256% $1,658 640-659 5.686% $1,739 620-639 6.232% $1,844
Of course, the interest rates change daily, but the above table gives you an idea of the importance of a high score when you apply for a mortgage.
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