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11 min read Nov 08, 2022

How to Buy a House in Illinois with Bad Credit

Just thinking about buying a house can be stressful. And with a bad credit score, you might think it’s impossible. But that is not the case at all. However, it can be a challenging task. Around 16% of Americans have bad credit. But that is okay, there are multiple options to buy a house with bad credit in Illinois.

Can I buy a house with bad credit in Illinois?

Yes, you can buy a house with bad credit. Mortgage lenders don’t care much about bad credit as most of us think. Everyday Mortgage lenders accept many applications from first-time home buyers with low credit scores. Although having a low credit score might affect your down payment, associated fees, and rate of interest.

When you have bad credit, cash is your friend. If you have more, you can use it for a down payment. This is because your score might only qualify for a certain mortgage amount. You can cover the difference through cash while you still afford the house you want.

What is the minimum credit score to buy a house in Illinois?

Few mortgage lenders have a minimum credit score of 500, while others have set it to 580. For example, FHA has set the minimum score to 580. 580 to 669 is a fair credit score. And the poor score is 300 to 579. The minimum score varies among lenders. It doesn’t matter what your score is as many lenders care more about if you will pay them every month.

What is a bad credit score?

Lenders and card issuers set their own guidelines for bad credit scores. A bad credit falls below 630 on a scale of 300 to 630. Scores from 630 to 689 are advised as fair credit. Individual lenders make their own decisions when willing to take the risks while offering credit.

Here’s how the categories usually fall:

Excellent credit 720 and above
Good credit690-719
Fair credit630-689
Bad Credit300-629

How to buy a house with bad credit in Illinois?

Here are some types of home loans for borrowers with bad credit:

Conventional Loan: minimum credit score of 620

The generic name for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is Conventional Loans. As of November 2022, the minimum FHFA loan requirement is a 620 credit score and a down payment of 3%.
Also, there are exceptions to this. You qualify for a conventional loan if you have a high income or it is larger than the minimum down payment. Even though your credit score is a bit lower than 620.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan: minimum credit score of 640

United States Department of Agriculture helps families in rural areas become homeowners. The US Department of Agriculture subsidizes this program.

Types of USDA Loans:

  1. Direct Loan: They are issued for low-income borrowers with an interest rate of 1%.
  2. Loan Guarantees: Loan guarantees are types of loans issued by participating lenders. They offer low-interest rates and minimal down payment. At times as low as 0%.
  3. Home improvement loans: Improvement loans are given to make repairs and improvements to qualified homeowners.

VA Loans: minimum credit score of 580

The VA Loan program is run by the Department of Veteran Affairs. It has a requirement of a minimum credit score to be 580 for home buyers. You must be a veteran who served for certain time periods or under specific circumstances or be a surviving spouse of a veteran with specific circumstances. You should have a Certificate of Eligibility from the VA to get a VA loan.

FHA Loans

Federal Housing Administration Loans date back to 1934. They are one of the oldest loan facilities by the US government. It is known for low down payment mortgages for first-time home buyers. Three main traits define FHA loans:

  • A down payment requirement of 3.5 %
  • All the credit ratings accepted and allowed
  • Loan sizes are within the FHA’s insurance policy limits

How can you improve your credit score?

Here is how you can improve your credit score:

  • Check the report for errors: Check your credit report for errors. Verify if any account has been incorrectly updated or if the information is not accurate. Dispute those errors with the credit bureau or your creditor reporting the information.
  • Build a credit file: When you open new accounts, your score report will be reported to credit bureaus. Many major lenders and card issuers report them. This is the first step to building your credit file. Bureau’s recommended having an active credit account. These will be helpful in building a credit score.
  • Don’t miss out on payments: The most crucial factor in determining your credit score is your payment history. Having a long history of making payments on time can help your credit score. For this, you will need to make sure don’t miss out on any payments. Your score will hurt when there are 30 days late payments.
  • Only apply if you need credit: An inquiry is pulled on your report after you use a new line of credit. This kind of inquiry lowers your score temporarily. Also, it is not a great idea to apply for credit just to see if you get approved or because you received a pre-qualified offer.
  • Increasing your available credit: After you get a better handle on your credit and start improving it, increasing your available credit can help it raise fast. You can do this by paying your balances or making a request to increase your limit. This will help you get a better credit score as it will decrease your credit utilization, which is also a big factor in determining your score. Remember, it’s better to have a higher credit score to buy a home and apply for mortgages.

Stay away from hard credit inquiries

Getting a quote for insurance won’t directly affect your score, but applying for any new type of credit can. Having too many hard inquiries on your credit is not a good thing. While applying for any financial transaction which requires a credit pull, always check if it’s going to be a hard or soft pull furthermore, avoid doing anything requiring a hard pull close to when you apply for a mortgage as it will affect your score.

How to get a mortgage with a bad credit score in Illinois?

Since getting a mortgage can cost more, it might be appealing to continue paying rent. Here are some tips on how you can get a mortgage: 

  • Research: Every lender is different, and each might offer different rates. Some might offer lower rates than others. A study shows that getting multiple quotes can help save thousands of dollars over a 30-year mortgage. 
  • Other lenders: Banks are not the only ones who lend. There are other financial institutions and credit unions who want to lend to you. You can look around to see who offers you the best deal. 
  • Identify red flags: There are advertisements that claim to provide guaranteed or pre-approved loans without checking your credit score. That’s a red flag. There are federal rules where the lender must verify the ability of the borrower so that can’t be a “guarantee” unless that happens.  
  • Co-sign your mortgage: If your credit score is bad, you can ask your family member or friend with a better score to be the co-signer. If the co-signer is willing to take the debt, that can boost your application. 
  • Down payment assistance: Check for down payment assistance if you are worried about a down payment. There are over 2000 assistance programs available all over the country. 
  • No big changes in your finances: Don’t make any changes in your credit like getting a new credit line. This can push down your credit score. Avoid big purchases or getting a new credit card while applying for a mortgage.

How to check your credit score?

When you start using a credit card, you get a report associated with your name. You can get a credit score without owning a credit card if you had ever taken a loan or had bills, you would have a score already. Check out some ways below how to check your credit:

  • Check your bank statement: Check in with your bank or credit card statements or even loan statements. Usually, you find your score loan online after logging into your bank account. You might need to opt for service to receive your scores.
  • Free score service: There are many companies that offer free credit score checking. Although check their terms and conditions before signing up. 
  • Bureau or credit provider: You can also check your score through major credit providers or lenders. Other paid providers are also available.  

Final take on how to buy a house with a bad credit score in Illinois

Having a bad score does not mean you cannot own a house. You can too enjoy the benefits of homeownership. Yes, you might need additional research though. Also, when you are buying a home, there is no credit as a good or bad. It should be a qualifying credit. Despite holding excellent credit scores, some buyers don’t get approved. You can improve your credit scores by changing your spending habits, and a few tiny changes can also result in significant differentiation. To buy a house, you don’t need an excellent credit score you only need qualifying credit.

While some have low scores and buy their home in just a month. You might hear a lot of nos from lenders initially but you will hear a yes. Buying a house seems tempting at first, but take your time to assess all your options while applying for a home loan with a bad credit score. Start with a plan for applying for loans online.

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