How Does Credit Scores, Down Payments, and Debt Ratio Affect Loan Approvals?

Credit score tracking is all the rage for personal finance-savvy consumers. With websites like Credit Karma, you can monitor your current score and keep an eye on irregularities in your line of credit.

But those aren’t the numbers used to gauge your credit-worthiness for a loan. Instead, banks rely on what’s known as the FICO score, an amalgamation of information about your ability to pay back credit cards, student loans, car debt and other forms of debt on time.

Here’s why you need a good credit score to buy a home: Credit scores impact the interest rate of your mortgage and could factor into whether you receive a conventional home loan (meaning that they are available/guaranteed through private financial institutions, or one of two government-backed entities, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac).

You can visit and get a report from one of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. This check will not hurt your score, but it will give you an idea of how trustworthy you look to lenders.

If you think your credit is in good enough shape to begin working with a lender, you can ask the financial institution to check your credit. All hard credit checks from mortgage lenders within a 45-day-window are treated like one inquiry. That’ll allow you to compare two to three lenders to see who will offer a more competitive mortgage rate. FICO advises taking advantage of this by shopping around for rates within a 30-day-window.

FICO has updated its scoring method, and new scores will be out in the summer of 2020. But while those new numbers might be a shock, they won’t have much impact on home loans because mortgage lenders prefer to use older FICO scoring models to determine a borrower’s eligibility, NPR reported.

Kentucky FHA Mortgage loan credit score requirements:

The minimum credit score is 500 for Kentucky FHA loans. However please keep in mind these two things: 1. Lenders credit their own overlays to increase the credit score threshold, most being 620, and secondly, if your credit score is below 580, you would need 10% minimum down payment, and if the credit score is over 580, then you can go with the minimum 3.5% down payment.
Obviously, if you have a higher credit score, this will increase your chances of getting approved for a Kentucky FHA Mortgage and possibly better rates and closing costs options.

Kentucky VA Mortgage loans requirements :

VA does not have a minimum credit score requirement, but if the credit score is below 620 few lenders will do the loan, but I am set up with several Kentucky VA lenders where I have closed them down to a 560 credit score, but the borrower had good compensating factors such as large down payment, low dti ratios, good job history and good residual income with no previous bankruptcies or foreclosures.

I would suggest if your credit scores are below 580, I would suggest on working on getting the scores up before you applied for a VA mortgage loan.

A lot of lenders will do a rapid rescore which in some cases can increase your credit scores in as little as 7-10 working days.

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) guarantees loans for current and former members of the military and their families. VA loans provide very favorable terms to eligible borrowers and have limited qualifying requirements.

You can get a VA loan with no down payment so long as the home isn’t worth more than you pay for it, and there’s no minimum credit score to qualify. You also don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance, although you do have to pay an up-front funding fee of between .5% and 3.3% of the loan amount unless you fall within an exception for disabled vets or military widows or widowers.

Kentucky USDA Mortgage credit score requirements:

According to their guidelines, USDA will go down to a 580 credit score, but most lenders will want a 640 credit score. USDA uses an online system to underwrite the risk of the loan, and scores under 640 are very difficult to get approved.

Validating the Credit Score. Two or more eligible tradelines are necessary to validate an applicant’s credit report score. Eligible tradelines consist of credit accounts (revolving, installment etc.) with at least 12 months of repayment history reported on the credit report. At least one applicant whose income or assets are used for qualification must have a valid credit report score

The Rural Housing Service (RHS) operates under the federal Department of Agriculture to guarantee loans for rural home-buyers with limited income who can’t obtain conventional financing. The upside is that Kentucky USDA loans require no down payment. The downside is that they charge a steep up-front fee of 1% of the loan amount (which can be paid off over the entire loan term) and an annual fee of 0.35%.

Kentucky Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conventional Credit Score Requirements

These are considered “conventional loans’ that can be often be obtained with a 3% to 5% down payment. Of course, there are higher standards for conventional home financing. The most common minimum credit score requirement to get approved today is a 620 FICO. 

This type of score is typical for people that have high credit card balances or a few delinquent payments in their past. The general consensus on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans in Kentucky is that a 620 score is the entry-point to qualify, but you will need thorough documentation of income with credit scores in the 620 to 640 range. You will have a better shot to be approved for a mortgage-backed by Fannie or Freddie with a 680-credit score and less strenuous underwriting.
Competitive Mortgage Rates and Fees

Monthly Mortgage Insurance Is Not Always Required

Ideal for First Time Home Buyers with Good Credit

Down Payments For Mortgage Loan Approval

Down payments are fairly straightforward: it’s the amount you pay out initially when agreeing to buy a home, and the more you put down, the less you have to borrow from a mortgage lender to continue gaining equity in a home.

The minimum down payment to get a mortgage is 3.5 percent of the home’s cost, although unless you put down 20 or more percent on a conventional loan (more on that later) or get a mortgage backed by a federal agency, you’ll be subject to paying for mortgage insurance, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Down Payment Closing Cost Assistance

KHC recognizes that down payments, closing costs, and prep​aids are stumbling blocks for many potential home buyers. Here are several loan programs to help. Your KHC-approved lender can help you apply for the program that meets your need.

Regular DAP
Purchase price up to $314,827 with Secondary Market.
Assistance in the form of a loan up to $6,000 in $100 increments.
Repayable over a ten-year term at 5.50 percent.
Available to all KHC first-mortgage loan recipients.
Affordable DAP
Purchase price up to $314,827 with Secondary Market.
Assistance up to $6,000.
Repayable over a ten-year term at 1.00 percent.
Borrowers must meet Affordable DAP income limits.

KHC is used for mostly applicants in urban areas of Kentucky that don’t have access to USDA or other government agencies to buy a home with no down payment.

A minimum of 3.5% down payment is required with this loan. Down payment assistance loans are available from $4500-$6,000, and are paid back over a period of ten years. They are typically offered to buyers with limited cash reserves and carry an interest rate of 1 to 5.5%. These loans can make a critical difference to buyers for whom the down payment is an obstacle. Buyers whose 3.5% down payment is less than the $6000 limit may choose to use the remainder of a down payment loan to pay closing costs, further reducing the amount needed to bring to closing.

Welcome Home $5000 Grant for Kentucky Homebuyers 2020

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati (FHLB Cincinnati) has established a set-aside of Affordable Housing Program (AHP) funds to help create homeownership through a program called the Welcome Home Program. Welcome Home funds are available to Members as grants to assist homebuyers.

Welcome Home grants are limited to $5,000 per household, households are eligible only if the total household income is at or below 80% of Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) income limits, and funds are offered on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Other program requirements are identified below.

The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is particularly key for lenders.

Debt consists of how much you currently owe such as student loans, car payments and credit card payments, compared to your gross monthly income (before taxes are taken out).

Fannie Mae, a federally backed company that purchases and guarantees mortgages for borrowers, allows a debt-to-income ratio of up to 45 percent, although it may be as high as 50 percent for people with phenomenal credit scores and incomes.

How lenders use your DTI for a Kentucky Mortgage Loan Approval

Kentucky Mortgage lenders typically use DTI (along with other variables) to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan, and to help determine your Kentucky mortgage rate. A high front-end DTI raises red flags with lenders because it is commonly associated with borrower default. In fact, reducing front-end DTI to reduce the risk of homeowner default was one of the main objectives of the loan modification programs introduced by the government in 2009.

There are specific limits for DTI that are used as cut-off points when evaluating borrowers. Current DTI limits for conventional conforming mortgage loans are typically 28% on the front end and 36% on the back end, though these limits are slightly higher for government subsidized Kentucky FHA loans.

While there are certainly other factors to consider when determining our eligibility for financing (e.g., credit score, etc.), your DTI is an important determinant that you should be aware of. By working to improve it, you can make yourself a better credit risk, and thus get more favorable treatment from lenders.

Two obvious ways to improve DTI are to increase your income and/or decrease your debt. Both are solid goals.

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