Best Mortgage Lenders for Poor Credit

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Contributor, Benzinga
October 26, 2022

A few missed credit card payments or a new credit score doesn’t need to mean waiting years to buy a home. Though buying a home with bad credit is a bit more difficult than buying a home with a score in the 800s, there are plenty of mortgage lenders willing to work with applicants who have lower scores. 

Today, we’ll take a look at how to buy a home when you have bad credit


Quick Look at the Best Mortgage Lenders for Poor Credit:

What is Considered “Poor Credit”?

If you have a lower credit score, you’re statistically more likely to miss a mortgage payment, borrow more money than you can afford to repay or fall into foreclosure. But what exactly is “poor credit” — and what credit score do you really need to buy a home?

Most mortgage lenders use the FICO credit scoring model to qualify mortgage applicants. Below, you can view a chart of FICO credit score ranges and how credit companies see applicants with these scores, according to Experian.

Credit ScoreRatingPercentage of PopulationWhat it Means for You
Less than 580Poor16%You’re unlikely to be approved for a mortgage without special considerations
580 to 669Fair17%You may be approved for a mortgage, but you’ll pay a higher interest rate
670 to 739Good21%You’ll usually be approved for a mortgage loan and you’ll receive standard interest rates
740 to 799Very good25%You’re very likely to be approved by most mortgage lenders and you’ll receive lower-than-average rates
800 to 850Exceptional21%Approval is a formality; you’ll almost always be approved for a loan at the best possible interest rates

As a general rule, you’ll typically need a credit score of at least 620 points to qualify for a conventional loan. 

Best Lenders for Poor Credit

Even if you do have poor credit, you may not necessarily be excluded from getting a mortgage loan. Some online mortgage lenders specialize in offering mortgage solutions to buyers with lower credit scores. If you’re still working on raising your score, consider a few of our favorite lenders that don’t require applicants to have perfect credit, listed below. 

As a general rule, you’ll typically need a credit score of at least 620 points to qualify for a conventional loan. 

Ways to Improve Your Credit

Though it is possible to get a mortgage loan with poor credit, even the best mortgage company will force you to pay a higher interest rate than comparable buyers with great credit. Sometimes it’s better to take a few months to focus on raising your credit score before you apply for a mortgage loan. If you aren’t sure where to begin, use these tips to boost your score over time.

  • Review your credit report. Did you know that about 20% of Americans have some kind of mistake on their credit report? These mistakes can artificially lower your score — but you can have them removed.

Request all 3 of your credit reports once every 12 months. Review each of your credit reports and look for mistakes. Some common mistakes include listing information from someone with the same name as you, misspellings of your name or address and listing loan payments as “late” that were actually paid on time. If you spot a mistake, contact the credit bureau. The bureau must review its documentation and prove that the information listed is accurate. If it cannot substantiate the listing, the bureau is legally required to remove it.

  • Apply for a secured credit card. If you don’t have a credit score or your score is very low, you might have a very tough time getting approved for any type of credit. This can quickly create a Catch-22 situation. You need some kind of credit to build your credit score, but you can’t get approved for credit without a good score.

If this is the situation you’re in, consider applying for a secured credit card. A secured credit card is a unique type of credit card that’s available even if you have no score or very poor credit. When you open a secured credit card, your lender will request a down payment that then becomes your line of available credit. For example, if you put $500 down when you open your card, your lender will provide you with a secured card with a $500 line of credit. From here, the secured card works identically to a standard credit card. You make purchases using the card and pay off your balance each month. Your lender simply keeps your deposit if you fail to make your payments.

As long as you make your payments on time, a secured card will raise your credit score over time. If you decide to close your card, your lender will refund your deposit minus what you owe. A secured card can offer you a no-hassle way to build credit if you’re still working to raise your score.

  • Limit your credit usage. If you use too much of your total available credit each month, lenders will see you as a riskier candidate for any type of loan. Regularly maxing out your credit indicates that you might rely on credit cards to pay all of your bills or that you have little money in savings. This lowers your score.

If you already have a credit card, you can raise your score by limiting your credit usage. Ideally, you should use less than 10% of your total available credit each month. If this isn’t currently possible, aim for less than 30% usage and gradually work your way down each month.

  • Make your bills on time. Your loan and credit card payment history makes up about 35% of your total FICO credit score. Though it might sound obvious, the easiest and fastest way to raise your score is to build a history of timely payments.

If you have trouble remembering when all of your bills are due, contact your credit card company and request autopay. Most autopay features automatically deduct your minimum payment on the day it's due. This prevents you from accidentally lowering your score by forgetting to make your minimum payments. 

How to Get a Mortgage with Bad Credit

If you have poor credit and need to apply for a loan without raising your score, there are a few ways to get approved.

  • Apply for an FHA loan. An FHA loan is a type of government-backed mortgage loan for buyers who have a lower credit score. Because FHA loans have insurance from the federal government, they’re a less risky option for lenders. This means that they can extend FHA loans to more buyers. An FHA loan can allow you to purchase a home with a credit score as low as 580 points and a down payment of just 3.5%.

Some select lenders may even allow you to buy a home using an FHA loan with a score as low as 500 points so long as you have at least 10% to put down on your home. Though this option isn’t available through every lender, local lenders might be more willing to work with you if you have a larger down payment.

  • Bring a larger down payment. The larger your down payment, the less money you’ll need to borrow from your mortgage lender. Some lenders might be willing to loosen credit requirements if you bring a larger down payment to the closing table because this lowers your monthly payment and makes it less likely that you’ll default. Aim for a down payment of 20% or higher if you have poor credit and want to buy a home.
  • Explain your circumstances. From medical debt to a sudden job loss that you didn’t anticipate, there are plenty of reasons why you might fall behind on your bills and see a dip in your credit score. You might be surprised at just how understanding mortgage lenders can be when you explain why exactly you have a poor credit history.

A documented history of why your credit score is low may be able to show mortgage lenders that your low score is simply a temporary condition and not a symptom of your poor financial management skills. 

Tackle Your Poor Credit

The best way to tackle poor credit is to face it head-on. If you’ve been avoiding looking at your credit score after a few missed credit card payments or a lapse on a loan, it’s time to sit down and assess the damage. Once you know what your score is, create a plan of action to lower your spending, begin diverting extra money toward debt and limit the amount of credit you use each month. Even if you aren’t planning to buy a home in the next few years, taking steps to curb your credit now will open up lower interest rates and more opportunities in the future. 


Can someone with a 500 credit score buy a house?


You can get a mortgage by getting a loan from the government with a credit score of 500. For example, you can qualify for an FHA loan with that score.


What's the lowest credit score?


The lowest credit score is a 300 FICO score.


How long does it take to rebuild credit from 500?


It takes 12 to 18 months to rebuild your credit score from 500 to a fair rating of 580 to 669.

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