Realtor | Jamie M Ross | United States Add a page title

Buying a home is, for many people, an essential part of the American dream. But for people with a checkered financial history – and a less-than-perfect credit score – it can feel like a dream that’s out of their reach.


But just because you don’t have a perfect credit store or a pristine financial background doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home! While it may be a bit more challenging, you can find financing and buy the home of your dreams even if your credit score isn’t quite up to the level you’d like it to be.


Here are five tips for buying a house (even if you have a less-than-perfect credit score):


1. Make Sure Your Credit Report Is Accurate

If you’re worried your financial past might prevent you from securing a mortgage, the first step is to go through your credit report with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is accurate and up-to-date.


Mistakes on credit reports are more common than you think. In fact, in 2016 alone, consumers lodged 43,000 complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regarding inaccurate credit reporting, accounting for nearly a quarter of total complaints.


Inaccuracies on your credit report can contribute to a low score – and make it harder to secure a loan. Go through your entire credit report to check for inaccuracies and, if there are any, reach out to the credit agencies to have them removed. Even remove one or two inaccurate negative remarks on your credit score can have a big impact on your score and make it easier for you to secure a mortgage.


2. Pay Your Rent On Time For A Year

When offering a loan to someone with a less-than-perfect financial history, lenders want to know you’re responsible and they can count on you to make your payments. And that’s why it’s SO important that you pay your rent – on time – for the entire year prior to applying for your mortgage.


Having a documented history of your rental payments that clearly shows you’ve made your payments on time for at least a year shows your lenders you’re able to pay your living expenses on time. And since you were able to pay your rent responsibly, they’ll be more likely to believe you will also pay your mortgage responsibly.


3. Apply for an FHA Loan

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) can be an excellent resource for potential homebuyers with a less-than-perfect financial history.


An FHA Loan is a mortgage that’s insured by the FHA. FHA Loans have more lenient requirements – these mortgages are available for potential buyers with a credit score of 580+ and at least a 3.5% down payment (500+ with at least a 10% down payment).


If you have some money to put down and are concerned your credit score could be holding you back from securing a mortgage, you’ll definitely want to explore an FHA Loan. Just keep in mind that in addition to your mortgage, you’ll need to pay insurance premiums (since the FHA is insuring your loan in case of default).


4. Find A Co-Signer

If there’s any possible way to have a friend or family member with higher credit score and better financial situation, do it.


Having a co-signer can help you avoid all the negative aspects of applying for a loan with less-than-stellar credit, including sky high interest rates. Over the course of the loan, securing a competitive interest rate can save you thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in interest.


But before you ask someone to cosign your loan, remember: a cosigner is taking legal responsibility for your debt. If you default on your mortgage, the lender can take legal action against both you AND your co-signer. Make sure you’re able to afford the mortgage and can manage the payments before letting someone co-sign your loan.


5. Make A Plan To Refinance

If there’s no way to avoid a mortgage with a high interest rate, it’s ok! Just because you’ve got a high interest rate now doesn’t mean you’ll have a high interest rate forever.


If you get stuck with a high interest rate, make a plan for how you can better your financial situation so you can refinance and get a lower rate in the future. Set a date to refinance and strategize ways you can improve your credit score before then, like lowering your total credit card debt, paying all of your bills on time, or looking into credit consolidation options.


There’s no way around it – the better your credit score and financial history, the better (and less expensive) your mortgage will be. But financial mistakes don’t have to keep you from buying the home of your dreams. With determination, a bit of creativity, and these tips, you’ll be well on your way to buying your home – even if you don’t have a perfect credit score.

Ever had an agent deny to show you a home because you weren’t pre-approved for a mortgage? It’s not because they’re mean, or they don’t value your business… it’s actually because they’re looking out for your best interests.

Let’s face it, shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like walking into a grocery store without a wallet. You may have the desire to buy, but you lack the ability. Let’s cover some basics…


What is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, a mortgage pre-approval is written assurance from a lender or broker that you’re able to borrow money to purchase a home up to a certain amount. It’s based on the income, employment and asset documentation you supply at the time of application, in conjunction with your credit history. So let’s look at the 6 reasons you should get pre-approved.


1. It carries more weight than a “pre-qualification”.

A pre-approval differs from a pre-qualification. With the former, the lender has actually checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a specific loan amount (usually for a particular time period such as 30, 60 or 90 days). A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home, but it’s a less accurate indicator of your ability to purchase. A pre-approval always carries more weight.


2. You’ll know how much house you can afford.

Getting pre-approved before you begin house hunting allows you to know how much house you can realistically afford. Knowing this narrows down the options and makes the selection process more efficient. Not to mention, it protects you from the unpleasant surprise of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t fit your budget.


3. It adds clout to your offer.

In many markets, homes attract more than one offer. If the sellers are weighing one offer against another, they may lean towards the one accompanied by a pre-approval letter. That’s because pre-approvals instill confidence that the buyer is financially capable of purchasing their home.


4. It could increase your negotiating power.

In addition to strengthening your offer when compared to buyers who haven’t taken this step, getting pre-approved may give you the upper-hand when negotiating the price. If the homeowner is eager to sell, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer from someone they’ve been assured is financially capable of purchasing their home.


5. It saves time.

Obtaining a mortgage is a lengthy process. Getting pre-approved ahead of time shortens the time between contract to close — this way you’re ready to proceed with finalizing the mortgage once you’ve found the home you want to purchase.


6. Without it, most agents won’t work with you.

Makes sense, too. Right? Think about it: when you hire an agent, he/she will invest countless hours showing you homes over the course of your house hunt. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want assurance that your hard work would lead to a favorable outcome for both you and your client?

Jamie M Ross

Helping you find your place.

Jamie M Ross  |  jamie.ross@compass.com  |  847.338.1292

JAMIE ROSS IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT AFFILIATED WITH COMPASS, A LICENSED REAL ESTATE BROKER WITH A PRINCIPAL OFFICE IN CHICAGO, IL, AND ABIDES BY ALL APPLICABLE EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY LAWS. ALL MATERIAL PRESENTED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. INFORMATION IS COMPILED FROM SOURCES DEEMED RELIABLE BUT IS SUBJECT TO ERRORS, OMISSIONS, CHANGES IN PRICE, CONDITION, SALE, OR WITHDRAWAL WITHOUT NOTICE. NO STATEMENT IS MADE AS TO ACCURACY OF ANY DESCRIPTION. ALL MEASUREMENTS AND SQUARE FOOTAGES ARE APPROXIMATE. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO SOLICIT PROPERTY ALREADY LISTED. NOTHING HEREIN SHALL BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL, ACCOUNTING OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE OUTSIDE THE REALM OF REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE.

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