Q: I am possibly moving to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for a teaching position at a private school. My wife’s credit score is in the 580 to 680 range, and so is mine.
We will both have full-time jobs in this market and are thinking about buying a house because we’ve heard that prices have come down in the area and sellers are desperate to get rid of their homes.
What will it entail to qualify for a mortgage these days?
A: There’s a huge difference between having a credit score of 580 and 680. And you should start the process by finding out exactly where your credit score is and where your wife’s credit score is. If your credit score is under 620, you’re going to have a difficult time getting a mortgage, even with an FHA loan.
Go to annualcreditreport.com and get your free credit history. Then, buy the credit score for around $9 because it’s the closest to what a mortgage lender would pull.
If your credit score isn’t high enough, and truthfully lender’s would prefer that you had a credit score over 700, look for ways to raise your credit score (finding errors, paying all of your bills on time and in full, not taking on new forms of credit) so that you can qualify for a mortgage.
One way to circumvent the credit score issue (sort of) is to buy a HUD home, which is an FHA foreclosure that is being sold on the HUDHomeStore.com website by government-approved vendors.
You won’t be able to make an offer for a HUD home on your own. You’ll need an approved Realtor. Choose one who has plenty of experience making these offers. If you search the site, you’ll be able to find out which agents have submitted successful bids for HUD homes. There are several different FHA home buyer programs that will let you buy a HUD home for very little money, with a lower credit score.