Dave Tedoni | St. Louis Real Estate, Maryland Heights Real Estate, Ballwin Real Estate


Your credit score is a fundamental component of a mortgage lender’s decision to approve you for a loan. It can also affect the interest rate and loan amount you can secure.

Along with your income history and down payment, a solid credit score is one of the three most important things you’ll need when it comes to buying a home.

Credit scores themselves, however, can be a complicated business. And finding out what score you need to buy a home and how to achieve that score can also be a complex topic.

So, in this post we’re going to break down some credit score basics as they relate to buying a home.

Types of credit scores

You may have heard of the three main credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus keeps a detailed credit history for everyone in America (except for those who have yet to open a line of credit or take out a loan).

Since each credit bureau may have slightly different information available data to draw from, your credit scores from each company may vary.

However, when it comes to buying a home, most lenders use a standard scoring model called a FICO score to ensure that all mortgage applicants are treated fairly when they seek a loan.

Things are further complicated by the fact that there are several different FICO scoring models designed for different types of credit. So, if you’ve seen your FICO score when applying for an auto loan, it may be a different score than you will see when applying for a mortgage.

Build credit; raise your credit score

All of the types of credit scores and scoring models can be confusing. But what you mostly need to worry about is how to boost your score.

Your credit score will be based on five main factors:

  1. Making on-time payments

  2. The percentage of available credit (not maxing out your cards)

  3. Having diverse types of credit (auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.)

  4. Not opening new lines of credit frequently (a red flag that you’re struggling financially)

  5. The length of your credit history, or how long you’ve been consistently paying your bills

What score do you need to buy a home?

There are several different mortgage types available for buyers. First-time homeowners, veterans, people seeking to buy a home in a rural area, and any other number of circumstances can help you qualify for mortgages even if you have a low credit score.

A general rule, however, is that it’s always better to apply for a mortgage with a high credit score to help you secure the best possible interest rate. 

Some programs do have minimum credit scores that they will accept for a mortgage. FHA loans are one common example. The Federal Housing Authority guarantees loans for people across the country who are hoping to buy their first home (or who haven’t owned a home in the last three years). Their guarantee is what enables lenders to safely approve mortgages for borrowers with low credit scores. The current requirement for an FHA loan is a credit score of 580 or higher for a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. You can secure an FHA loan with a lower credit score, but you’ll have to make a larger down payment.


There are several other options available for hopeful homeowners when it comes to mortgages. But, if you aren’t planning on moving in the next few months and your credit score could use some work, now is the time to start focusing on building credit.


It’s a good financial practice to check your credit report and score periodically. You want to be sure that no one has stolen your identity and that all the information on the report is correct. It may sound simple to check your credit, but there are so many sources that you can get it from and so many options that it can be a dizzying process. Read on to learn more about the basics of checking your credit and credit score. 


Your Credit Score Comes From Different Sources


You can check your credit score from one source and find that the score varies from place to place. Why? There are a few different scoring models that are used to calculate scores. There could be as much as a 50 point difference between sites. There are also three credit reporting agencies. Each one uses a different method to calculate credit scores. Each method provides lenders with different information to allow them a picture of what type of borrower you will be. 


Checking Your Score


Many different apps allow you to check your credit score. These enable users not only to see their scores but to see what can be done to improve the user’s credit report and score. You can’t see your credit report on these apps, but you can always head to annualcreditreport.com to check the full scope of your report. This is the only official site to pull your credit report fro the credit bureaus.  Finding the right app to check your credit score is simple, it only takes a few minutes to sign up. 


How Are Credit Scores Calculated?


Your credit score is calculated using a few different factors. Each credit bureau uses the formula a bit differently. Scores range from 300- 850. It’s pretty rare to see perfect credit at 850. Anything over 700 is considered “good” or excellent” credit. You need at least a score of 600 to obtain loans in most cases. The higher your score, the better the interest rate will be.     



When Is The Best Time To Check The Score?


Before you apply for any large loan, it’s a good idea to check your credit rating. Taking a peek will allow you to see where you stand. You don’t want  to apply for a loan and end up being surprised by problems with your credit. Many apps allow you to check your score on a monthly basis. It’s easy to stay on top of your credit score and especially important to know where you stand when you buy a home.