Buying a home with less-than-stellar credit is possible, but it’ll be more expensive for someone with a bad credit history compared to someone with good credit. While you might be tempted into purchasing a home, you’ll need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can’t afford. Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home and your credit score isn’t sparkling.
Do You Really Need A House?
First, scrutinize your finances to see if you can support buying a home. Homeownership is touted as a great way to build financial stability, but it’s also one of the fastest ways you can find yourself sinking money into your “asset.” If you’re someone with bad credit, then it’s possible you may already be struggling with your finances. It’s also possible that owning a house will only complicate your finances further.
Buying a home may not make economic sense, since you’re looking at not only the costs of the house itself, but property taxes, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and other fees. It may be better for you to rent instead, especially if you live in an area with high housing costs.
You also need to think about where you might be in a few years’ time. Are you planning to stay in your area? Is your career stable? It often won’t make sense to buy a house if you’re going to be living elsewhere within five years.
Make A Large(r) Down Payment
What if you really do want to buy a house, though, and are concerned that the bad credit score will make it impossible? One thing you could do is to ensure you have a large down payment ready to go. The common rule of thumb with buying a home is to have a down payment of 20%. If you can make a larger down payment, it’ll make your application more attractive to lenders, since they won’t have to lend you as much money and they’ll know you are very committed to keeping the terms of the loan agreement — thereby reducing their risk.
Tackle Your Debt
Another thing you can do is start improving your credit score and getting your finances on track. When you’re buying a home, lenders will examine your finances to see if you can afford it and if you’re a low credit risk. That includes looking over your debt. Got student loans, credit card debt, or car payments? This is a good time to start paying that off, because it’ll make it that much easier to get approval for a mortgage.
When you’re talking to lenders, you’ll want to document your previous financial history. For instance, perhaps you have made poor financial decisions in the past, but your job is stable and you are earning a good salary. You can start making payments on your debt and that will help make your case as your score improves.
Apply For An FHA Loan
One popular route to home ownership is to apply for a U.S. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loan. It’s one of the easiest loans to qualify for and there are resources for first-time homebuyers. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of your costs. You do need to assume the costs of two different kinds of insurance premiums, since the FHA loans are structured differently from more traditional loans. To find out more, research FHA loans and see if you qualify.
Our final piece of advice? Work on building your credit first, and then buy your house. Even if your dream house is on the market right now, you’ll find another dream house when you’re more financially stable. It’ll be worth waiting for when you can buy a house with good credit, and you’ll have peace of mind when it comes to your finances. That’s priceless.