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What is the Minimum Credit Score for an FHA Mortgage?

Woman Wondering If Her Credit Score is Good Enough For an FHA LoanUnfortunately, there isn’t just one answer to the question “what is the minimum credit score for an FHA Mortgage.” Obtaining a mortgage is more than just having a good credit score. It also includes factors like having a steady income (work history) and reserves or assets for a down-payment. These additional factors along with your credit score help to determine whether or not you qualify for an FHA mortgage.

FHA Mortgage Qualification Requirements

The FHA Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines state that for FHA loans:

  • Borrowers with a middle credit score at or above 580 are eligible for maximum financing
  • Borrowers with a middle credit score between 500 and 579 are limited to 90% Loan to Value
  • Borrowers with a middle credit score of less than 500 are not eligible for FHA mortgage financing

Keep in mind that these “guidelines” are just that – guidelines. Financing is not guaranteed based only on an individual’s credit score. Other compensating factors determine whether or not a buyer can obtain a home loan.

What are FHA Loan Compensating Factors?

Compensating factors are essentially strengths on a loan application that may help you to be approved for a loan even if you do not fit the exact terms or guidelines necessary for loan approval. You will hear “compensating factors” quite a bit during the mortgage process when lower credit scores are involved. They can include your debt-to-income ratio, length of current residence history, and liquid assets depending on your circumstances.

In addition to compensating factors, each bank has their own guidelines that are in addition to the FHA/HUD guidelines. These are called overlays.

What are Bank Overlays?

Bank overlays are guidelines put in place by individual banks and lenders that help them determine whether or not they should approve a mortgage application. They are separate from, and sometimes stricter than, FHA guidelines.

Banks use overlays to determine whether or not they will underwrite a file. For instance, if a client has a 606 middle credit score and has an acceptable debt to income (DTI) ratio that meets standard bank guidelines, he may assume that his loan application will be approved. The application may still be rejected, however, due to the bank’s credit overlays.

Certain banks have 620 or 640 minimum credit score overlays, causing their guidelines to be stricter than the FHA’s. As a result, they cannot approve the loan and underwrite the file.

Understanding FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Scores & Qualification Requirements

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to determining the minimum credit score for an FHA mortgage. A lot depends on the strength of the rest of your file, compensating factors and bank overlays.

If you are concerned about whether or not you will qualify for an FHA loan, working with a mortgage broker is likely your best option. Mortgage brokers have access to numerous banks and programs and can therefore shop the strengths of your file to wholesale lenders that fit your credit score and profile.

Learn more about the benefits of working with a mortgage broker.

Interested in Learning More About New York FHA Home Loans?

Check out our page about New York FHA mortgages for details about the key benefits and features of FHA mortgages! Wondering how to go about applying for an FHA loan? You can find more information about the FHA application process here.

Ready to start the mortgage application process? Get started with Maple Tree Funding today!

Editor’s Note: This content was originally published in 2016 but has been updated as of December 2019.

Posted in FHA Home Loans on Monday, December 2, 2019 by Maple Tree Funding