What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House?

When it comes to purchasing a house, one of the most critical factors that lenders consider is your credit score. Your credit score plays a significant role in determining your eligibility for a mortgage and the interest rate you’ll be offered. In this article, we will explore what credit score you need to buy a house and the factors that can affect your ability to secure a home loan.

What is a Credit Score?

Before diving into the specific credit score requirements for buying a house, let’s understand what a credit score is. A credit score is a three-digit number that represents your creditworthiness. It is generated based on your credit history, which includes information on your credit cards, loans, and payment history.

Understanding Credit Score Factors

Before we discuss the specific credit score requirements for buying a house, it’s essential to understand the factors that contribute to your credit score. Credit scores are calculated based on several components, including:

  • Payment History: This is the most influential factor, accounting for approximately 35% of your credit score. It reflects whether you’ve paid your bills on time and any instances of late payments or defaults.
  • Credit Utilization: This factor makes up about 30% of your credit score and considers the percentage of your available credit that you’re using. Lower utilization is generally better for your score.
  • Length of Credit History: The length of time you’ve had credit accounts for about 15% of your credit score. Longer credit histories tend to be more favorable.
  • Credit Mix: Lenders like to see a mix of different types of credit, such as credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages. This makes up about 10% of your credit score.
  • New Credit Inquiries: Applying for new credit can result in hard inquiries, which can impact your credit score. New credit inquiries make up about 10% of your score.

Credit Score Needed To Buy A House (By Loan Type)

Now, let’s explore the specific credit score requirements for buying a house, broken down by different types of loans.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are mortgage loans not backed by the government. They are offered by private lenders and are typically more stringent in their credit score requirements.

  • Minimum Credit Score: Many conventional lenders prefer a credit score of 620 or higher for borrowers to be eligible. However, to secure the best interest rates and terms, a credit score of 740 or more is often recommended.

FHA Loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers loans that are more accessible to borrowers with lower credit scores and smaller down payments.

  • Minimum Credit Score: You may be eligible for an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500, but a score of 580 or higher will typically require a lower down payment.

VA Loans

VA loans are available to veterans and active-duty military personnel, and they are known for their lenient credit requirements.

  • Minimum Credit Score: VA loans do not have a specific credit score requirement set by the VA itself, but most lenders prefer a score of 620 or higher.

USDA Loans

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides loans for rural homebuyers with modest incomes.

  • Minimum Credit Score: While USDA loans do not have a set minimum credit score, lenders often look for a score of 640 or more.

How To Increase Your Credit Score Before Buying A House

If you’re planning to buy a house in the near future, boosting your credit score is a wise step to secure a better mortgage deal. In this section, we’ll explore effective strategies on how to increase your credit score before embarking on your home-buying journey.

Review Your Credit Report

Start by obtaining a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Carefully review these reports for errors or inaccuracies. Dispute any discrepancies you find to ensure your credit report reflects accurate information.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Consistently making on-time payments is the most impactful way to improve your credit score. Set up reminders, automate payments, or use budgeting tools to ensure all your bills, including credit cards, loans, and utilities, are paid promptly.

Reduce Credit Card Balances

High credit card balances relative to your credit limit can negatively affect your credit score. Aim to keep your credit utilization below 30%. Pay down credit card balances as much as possible, focusing on cards with the highest utilization rates first.

Avoid Opening New Credit Accounts

Each time you apply for a new credit account, a hard inquiry is made on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your score. Limit the number of new credit applications before buying a house to minimize the impact on your credit score.

Keep Old Credit Accounts Open

The length of your credit history matters. Avoid closing old credit card accounts, even if you don’t use them regularly. Older accounts contribute positively to your credit history’s length.

Diversify Your Credit Mix

Having a mix of credit types, such as credit cards, installment loans, and retail accounts, can positively influence your credit score. If you have only one type of credit account, consider diversifying it over time.

Pay Off Collection Accounts

If you have any accounts in collections, work on paying them off as soon as possible. While they will still appear on your credit report, settling these accounts can have a positive impact on your credit score over time.

You can view your credit report by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com and requesting your free credit report. You can also order your credit report by calling (877) 322-8228 or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to the Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Other Considerations When Buying A House

Aside from your credit score, several other essential factors should be considered when purchasing a house. Here are some key considerations:

Down Payment

Determine how much you can afford for a down payment. A larger down payment can help you secure a better mortgage rate and reduce monthly mortgage payments.

Closing Costs

Factor in closing costs when budgeting for your home purchase. These costs can include appraisal fees, attorney fees, title insurance, and more.

Monthly Budget

Create a detailed monthly budget that accounts for your mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and other homeownership expenses. Make sure you’re comfortable with the ongoing costs of homeownership.


Consider the location of your prospective home carefully. Evaluate factors like proximity to work, schools, public transportation, and amenities that are important to you.

Home Inspection

Before finalizing your purchase, have a thorough home inspection done. This can uncover any hidden issues or needed repairs, ensuring you’re making a well-informed decision.

Future Plans

Think about your long-term plans when buying a house. Are you planning to stay in the area for a while, or is this a short-term investment? Your future plans can impact your choice of home.

In conclusion, increasing your credit score and considering all relevant factors when buying a house are essential steps on your path to homeownership. By taking the time to improve your creditworthiness and carefully evaluating your housing options, you can make a more informed decision and secure the home of your dreams.