1. What kind of Credit Score Do I need to qualify?
When applying for a mortgage loan, lenders will pull what they call a “tri-merge” credit report which will show three different fico scores from Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. The lenders will throw out the high and low score and take the “middle score” For example, if you had a 614, 610, and 629 score from the three main credit bureaus, your qualifying score would be 614. Most lenders will want at least two scores.
So if you only have one score, you may not qualify. Lenders will have to pull their own credit report and scores so if you had it ran somewhere else or saw it on a website or credit card you may own, it will not matter to the lender, because they have to use their own credit report and scores.
Most lenders will pull your credit report for free nowadays so this should not be a big deal as long as your scores are high enough.
The Secondary Market of Mortgage loans offered by FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and KHC all have their minimum fico score requirements and lenders will create overlays in addition to what the Government agencies will accept, so even if on paper FHA says they will go down to 580 or 500 in some cases on fico scores, very few lenders will go below the 620 threshold.
If you have low fico scores it may make sense to check around with different lenders to see what their minimum fico scores are for loans.
The lenders I currently deal with have the following fico cutoffs for credit scores:
FHA–620 minimum score
VA—-62 minimum score
Fannie Mae–620 minimum score
USDA–640 minimum score
KHC with Down Payment Assistance –620 minimum score.
As you can see, 620 is the minimum score with most lenders for a FHA, VA, or Fannie Mae loan, and 620 is required for the no down payment programs offered by USDA for Kentucky for First Time Home Buyers wanting to go no money down.
Use These Findings to Boost Your Credit Score
Here are Magnify Money’s tips on improving a low credit score:
Step 1: Get a line of credit
In order to establish credit history, you need to have a form of credit. The simplest way for you to begin will be to open a credit card. If your score is low or non-existent, you’ll need to apply for a secured or store card.
Secured Card: You’ll use your own money as collateral by putting down a deposit of a few hundred dollars with the bank. Typically, that amount will then be your credit limit. Once you prove you’re responsible, you can get back your deposit and upgrade to a regular credit card.
Store Card: People with a low credit score can often still get store cards because banks are more likely to approve users who apply through the store. The catch is that the interest rates are often very high.
Step 2: Keep your utilization rate low
Your goal should be to never exceed 30% of your credit limit. Ideally, you should be even lower than 30%, because the lower your utilization rate, the better your score will be.
We recommend you make one small purchase a month to keep your utilization low and help increase your credit score at a faster rate.
Step 3: Pay in full, and on time, each month
The easiest way to prove you’re responsible is to only charge what you can afford. Never use your credit card to buy an item you won’t be able to pay off on time and in full each month.
Being late on your payments has a very negative impact on your credit score.
There is also no advantage to only paying the minimum amount due on your card. That will only result in you paying interest, and does nothing to help your credit score. So just save yourself money and pay your entire bill.
2. Do Mortgage Interest Rates Change Daily?
Just like the gas prices at the pump, mortgage rates can change daily or throughout the day. Typically mortgage rates are published at 10-11 am daily by most lenders and you can lock up through the close of business which is usually around 6-7 PM. Mortgage rates can change up or down throughout the day based on various financial, economics, and geopolitical news in the US Financial markets and World markets. Generally speaking, good economic news is bad for rates and vice versa, bad economic news is good for mortgage rates.
The good news is this: Once you find a home and get it under contract, you can lock your mortgage loan rate. Typically it takes about 30-45 days to close a mortgage loan in Kentucky, so the typical lock is for 30-60 days. If rates get better you may be able to negotiate a better rate with your lender, but they usually have to improve by at least 25 basis points (.25) to do that. Not all lenders offer this option. The longer you lock the loan, the greater the costs. It is usually free to lock in a loan for up to 90 days without having to pay a fee.
What a lot of lenders are experiencing now is that some loans don’t close on time for various reasons. You can always extend the lock on the loan but it will costs you usually .125 basis points to do so. If you let the lock expire on the loan, then you have to take worse case pricing on that day when you go to relock. It is usually best to extend the lock on your loan.
3. What are the down payment requirements?
The most popular programs for Kentucky First Time Home Buyers usually involves one of the following housing programs outlined in bold below:
FHA will allow a home buyer to purchase a house with as little as 3.5% down. If your credit scores are low, say 720 and below, a lot of times it makes sense to go FHA because everyone pays the same mortgage insurance premiums no matter what your score is, and the down payment can be gifted to you. Meaning you really don’t have to have any skin into the game when it comes to down payment. They even allow down payment assistance through eligible parties (government grants or non-profits). Lastly, FHA will allow for higher debt to income ratios with sometimes getting loan pre-approvals up to 55% of your total gross monthly income.
Fannie Mae requires just 3% down with their new Home Possible Program, but if you use their traditional mortgage loan, then 5% is the Fannie Mae Standard. Fannie Mae will o down to a 620 score, but if your scores are below 680, I would look seriously at the FHA loan program because Fannie Mae has steep increases to the interest rate and the mortgage insurance premiums if your scores are low.
A couple of good things about Fannie Mae is that you can buy a larger priced home and have a large loan amount due to FHA only allowing most Kentucky Home Buyers a maximum mortgage loan amount of $314,750 price range while Fannie Mae will go up to Conforming loan limits of $484,500
Lastly when it comes to mortgage insurance, FHA mortgage insurance premiums are for life of loan while Fannie Mae mortgage insurance premiums drop off when you develop 80% equity position in your house.
But as a tell most people, nobody has a loan for 30 years, and the average mortgage is either refinanced or home sold within the first 5-7 years.
VA loans offer eligible Veterans and Active Duty Personnel to buy a home going no money down with no monthly mortgage insurance. This is probably the best no money down loan out there since the rates are traditionally very low on comparison to other government insured mortgages and no monthly mortgage insurance. The VA loan can be used anywhere in the state of Kentucky with the maximum VA loan limit not having one anymore with the new VA mortgage act. You still have to qualify based on your VA entitlement, debt to income ratio and residual income.
USDA loans offer people buying a home in rural areas (typically towns of $20k or less) to buy a home going zero down. You cannot currently own another home and there is household income limits of $90,000 for a household family of four, and up to $119,000 for a household of five or more.
You search USDA website for eligible areas and household income limits below at the yellow highlighted link :
KHC or Kentucky Housing-
Kentucky First Time Home Buyers typically use KHC for their down payment assistance. KHC currently offers $4500 to $6000 for down payment assistance and sometimes throughout the year they will offer low mortgage rates on their mortgage revenue bond program. The down payment assistance usually never runs out because you have to pay it back in the form of a second mortgage.
It helps a lot of home buyers that want to buy in urban areas that cannot utilizer the USDA program in rural areas. Most of the time the first mortgage is a FHA loan tied with the 2nd mortgage fore down payment assistance. All KHC programs require a 620 score and rates are locked for 45 days.
KHC recognizes that down payments, closing costs, and prepaids 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.
- Purchase price up to $327,334 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.
- Purchase price up to $327,334 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.
More About Down Payment and Closing Costs
- No liquid asset review and no limit on borrower reserves.
- Specific credit underwriting standards may apply to down payment programs.
4. What if I have had a bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past?
FHA and VA are the easiest on previous bankruptcies. FHA and VA both require 2 years removed from the discharge date on a Chapter 7. If you are in the middle of a Chapter 13, FHA will allow for financing with a 12 month clean history payment to the Chapter 13 courts, and with trustee permission.
VA requires 2 years removed from a foreclosure (sheriff sale date of home) and FHA requires 3 years.
USDA requires 3 years removed from both a foreclosure and bankruptcy, but on the foreclosure they do not go off the sale date. This may save you a little time if you had a previous foreclosure.
Fannie Mae (Conventional Loan)
Fannie Mae is by far the strictest. They require 4-7 years out of a foreclosure or bankruptcy
If you have questions about qualifying as first time home buyer in Kentucky, please call, text, email or fill out free prequalification below for your next mortgage loan pre-approval.
We just moved here the first of January in 2017 from Ohio to the Louisville, KY area and we found Joel’s website online. He was quick to respond to us and got back the same day on our loan approval. He was very knowledgeable about the local market and kept us up-to date throughout the loan process and was a pleasure to meet at closing. Would recommend his services.
“We were searching online for mortgage companies in Louisville, Ky locally to deal with and found Joel’s website, and it was a godsend. He was great to work with, and delivered on everything he said he would do. I ended up referring my co-worker at UPS, and she was very pleased with his service and rates too. Would definitely vouch for him.” September 2016
“We contacted Joel back in July 2011 to refinance our Mortgage and he was great to work with. We contacted several lenders locally and online, and most where taking almost 60 days to close a refinance, Joel got it done in 23 days start to finish,I would definitely recommend him. He got us 3.75% with just $900 in closing costs on our FHA Streamline loan.
“Joel is one of the best Mortgage Brokers I have ever worked with in my sixteen years in the real estate and mortgage business.” May 25, 2010
“Joel has always worked very hard to keep his word and to work out seasonable solutions to difficult problems. He is truly an expert in FHA and other type loans.” September 1, 2010
“I have worked with Joel since 1998. He is a great loan professional.” I refer most of my Louisville, Kentucky area home buyers to him and he always take special care of them. August 23, 2012
“Joel Lobb is a real professional in the lending industry, with many years of experience, he is the one to go to for any mortgage lending needs.” August 22, 2011
RICHARD VOLZ , Residential Sales , Remax Foursquare Realty
“When looking to purchase our new home in 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Lobb. Not only was he personable and easy to reach, he was extremely knowledgeable in his field and made sure to find us the best rate and a top notch mortgage company. We were able to complete the process in less than 3 weeks with his expertise. I find Joel to have the utmost high integrity and I recommend him to anyone who say’s they are need of mortgage assistance. He is also fantastic and keeping everyone up to date on the latest in the housing industry through his twitter posts. He provided great results for our family and we still communicate to this day!” August 21, 2010
“We first use Joel on our new home purchase in 2007 in St Matthews, Kentucky area and he was great to work with. We have since refinanced our home with him in 2010 when rates got really low and he has always delivered on what he says. I could not imagine using anyone else.”
Melody Glasscock March 2014
Absolutely Amazing!! I emailed Joel after I had just got a denial from a bank and just thought i would try to get some advice on what my next steps would be to get a house. I honestly didn’t expect to even get a reply because my credit is not great. That was about a week and a half ago. I just signed a contract on a house last night. ONLY because of Joel Lobb. He even worked with us throughout the weekend, which shocked me. Best decision I have ever made. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WORKING WITH US THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PROCESS.
Cee Bellisle August 2018
Contacted him about buying a home and he was great to work with. I was moving to Louisville Ky to take a new job and he walked me through the entire process. He explained to me all the different options for FHA, VA, USDA mortgage loans and credit score requirements versus Fannie Mae. Since I was a first time home buyer I needed alot of help and guidance. I would definitely recommend him. Fast to respond and available to answer questions that I or my realtor had after hours.
Anderson Johnson April, 2018
We moved from Michigan to Northern Kentucky area and we were really impressed. We got a USDA loan no money down and closed in less than 3.5 weeks. We shopped around online with other lenders but Joel was always first to respond and his rates were just a little better than other lenders. He kept us informed through the process along with our realtor and there was absolutely no surprises like we heard from other co-workers and friends that they experienced in their loan process. We have already referred another co-worker to Joel . He’s AWESOME!
Patty Kingston July 2018
Wow, what a great loan officer. I was referred to him by our agent and he was great to work with. We used him for a USDA no money down loan in Shelby County and we were really impressed. We were afraid we could not buy a home since we did not have money saved for a down payment, but Joe l was able to get us a zero down loan and we even got our appraisal fee and good faith deposit back at closing. We actually got money back at closing!!! I Can’t think him enough. Our family moved from our apartment in the south end of town to get our own home with 5 acres for our kids and 2 dogs, at a payment that is equal to our rent payment also. .Thanks Again Joel. May god bless you
We contacted Joel about buying a house on our move from Ohio for my husband’s job transfer with Ford. We put a lot of trust in him since we were new to the area and first time home buyers in the Louisville KY market, and he always delivered on what he said. It took us a while to find a home due to the lack of homes, but once we got one, he was always quick to respond our questions via text or email ,and kept us informed through the process. We got to meet him at the closing and he was super nice and even got us a closing gift for our home which we didn’t expect at all. Super nice guy 😀!!! I would definitely recommend him for a local Home loan in the Louisville area.
I got a VA loan with Joel and he was great. He is an ex-army guy so he could relate to my past experiences of being a veteran and moving around the country a lot. I had some credit issues that required a little extra work but Joel was able to find A VA lender to approve my situation as far as having past bad credit problems and a lower credit score. We closed yesterday on our home here in Louisville and we could not be happier. We finally have a home of our own thanks to Joel . I would definitely recommend him for a mortgage loan. Great experience and closed 8 days before expected close date so we were able to move in early.
I contacted Joel about the $10,000 KY Housing Grant last month and we were able to get it and I just closed on my home. He was great to work with and if you are a first time home buyer here in Louisville, I would definitely contact him. I met him at his office and he was very nice and knowledgeable and kept me informed through the process. No surprises either so I was very happy. I am new homeowner thanks to Joel .
I can answer your questions and usually get you pre-approved the same day.
Call or Text me at 502-905-3708 with your mortgage questions.
Joel Lobb (NMLS#57916)
Senior Loan Officer
American Mortgage Solutions, Inc.
10602 Timberwood Circle Suite 3
Louisville, KY 40223
Company ID #1364 | MB73346
The view and opinions stated on this website belong solely to the authors, and are intended for informational purposes only. The posted information does not guarantee approval, nor does it comprise full underwriting guidelines. This does not represent being part of a government agency. The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the view of my employer. Not all products or services mentioned on this site may fit all people.
, NMLS ID# 57916, (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). I lend in the following states: Kentucky