What Credit Score Do I Need for a Mortgage?

Chalkboard with check boxes for excellent, average and poor credit.

Wondering what credit score you need to qualify for a mortgage? You’d be wise to ask. Your credit score (also known as a FICO® score) is one of the most important elements of qualifying for a home loan—and helps lenders determine your interest rate in the event you do qualify.

While there isn’t a strict credit score standard that applies to all lenders—who have varying  requirements for loan origination—there are baseline standards if you’re applying for an FHA loan backed by the US government. To qualify for the lowest minimum down payment for an FHA loan—3.5% of the home’s total sales price—the government requires a credit score of at least 580.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that the government doesn’t actually fund FHA loans; private lenders do (like our affiliate HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation). The government’s role is to insure a lender against loss if a buyer defaults on the loan. So what does that have to do with your credit score? Well, since private lenders supply their own funds, they get to set the final criteria—potentially requiring a higher minimum credit score than the government—for buyers attempting to qualify for an FHA loan. Some lenders may even qualify you for an FHA loan with a credit score of less than 580, but a larger down payment may be required and any such decision will be based on your overall credit profile.

Other loan types may have more stringent credit score requirements. Conventional loans, for example, generally require a higher credit score than FHA loans, with most lenders requesting a score of at least 620.

Need to get your credit mortgage-ready? Check out 5 Ways to Help Maintain (or Improve) Your Credit Score.

Credit already in homebuying shape? Fill out a short pre-qualification form with HomeAmerican Mortgage Corporation!