When you’re thinking about buying a house, it’s important to evaluate your credit score. If you’re wondering, “What should my credit score be to buy a house?” you’re not alone. Many consumers know that the better their credit, the more likely they are to qualify for a mortgage—but do you know the minimum credit score needed?

Here’s a look at the right credit score range for buying a house in 2021.

What is a credit score?

FICO credit scores are a way for lenders to decide whether you’re a good risk. The numerical value is assigned based on a number of factors, including how often you pay your bills on time, how many credit cards you have, how much debt you have, how much of your credit line you’re using, whether you’ve ever filed for bankruptcy, whether you’ve defaulted on a loan and other payment-related issues.

Credit scores aren’t the only thing lenders will look at, but they’re an important factor. Generally, the minimum score mortgage lenders will accept is 620—but it’s entirely possible to buy a house with a lower score, depending on the circumstances.

Minimum credit scores by mortgage type

The type of mortgage you choose can affect how high your credit score must be:

  • Conventional: A conventional mortgage requires a minimum credit score of 620. These loans are uninsured by government agencies, and follow the standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They tend to offer the best interest rates and repayment periods.
  • FHA loan, 3.5 percent down payment: FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which makes them available to people with lower credit scores. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent. They’re also available for refinancing up to 97.5 percent of your home’s value, which makes them a good choice for anyone who’s behind on their current mortgage. They require a minimum credit score of 580, but private lenders can set their own standards.
  • FHA loan, 10 percent down payment: Similarly, FHA loans with 10 percent down payments are good choices for people with lower credit scores. You can obtain a mortgage with a credit score as low as 500.
  • VA loan: Finally, VA loans are available to those who qualify with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They don’t require a down payment at all—but they do require a funding fee. This varies depending on how much you put down, your type of military service and other relevant factors. They typically require a credit score of 580 or higher.

As you can see, the minimum credit score for buying a house in 2021 will vary, depending on your down payment and loan type. Depending on the type of mortgage you use, other factors may weigh into a lender’s decision. The good news is that even if your credit isn’t as good as it could be, it may not prevent you from becoming a homeowner.

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