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Can You Get a No-Credit-Check Mortgage?

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Applying for a new home loan can be intimidating, especially if you have a less-than-ideal credit score. While most loan programs and lenders have minimum credit score requirements, it is possible to get a no-credit-check mortgage that allows you to qualify for a home loan with no credit. Here’s a look at what to expect from the process and the options you’ll have.

How to get a mortgage with no credit score (or credit check)

Yes, you can get a mortgage even if you have no credit score, or if you’re looking to avoid a credit check because of bad credit. Here are four strategies to get a no-credit-check mortgage approval:

Get a cosigner

Whether you have poor credit or no credit score at all, adding a creditworthy cosigner to your mortgage loan can be one way to improve your approval odds.

A cosigner is someone who agrees to share responsibility for your loan and its timely repayment — even if you’re the one technically making payments each month. Your cosigner may be a spouse, parent, sibling or even a close friend who is willing to be added to your mortgage. It’s important to note that your loan and its repayment history will be reported to their credit, too.

Have a large down payment

The larger the down payment you offer to make on a home, the less risk the lender has to take on by offering you a mortgage loan. If you were to default on your loan repayment, the lender has a better chance of recouping their money if you’ve already contributed a significant portion and/or there’s notable equity established in the home.

If you are struggling to qualify for a new home mortgage with your existing credit history, offering a large down payment may help improve your odds. Additionally, some lenders and mortgage loan products may require a larger down payment if your credit score is lower.

Go through a manual underwriting process

During the loan underwriting process, a lender analyzes a borrower’s level of risk in regards to repayment of their new loan. This means looking at factors such as income, employment status, existing debt and other expenses to see if the borrower can reasonably make their monthly payments without struggling.


Things You Should Know

Many lenders today use automated underwriting systems, which utilize computer programs to initially vet mortgage loan applicants. However, these systems are designed to find red flags, such as a low or nonexistent credit score, and may trigger a denial of the loan application. By requesting a manual underwriting process — meaning that a human underwriter goes through the application themselves — you may be able to avoid an automatic denial. These underwriters can use their own judgment in reviewing your application, considering all factors provided.

Use credit unions or online lenders

If you have an existing relationship with a credit union or local bank, you may have a better chance of mortgage loan approval there. That’s because credit unions often have more flexible lending requirements and a more personalized approach. If you have other products through that institution — such as an auto loan or credit card — and have a healthy payment history on those accounts — the institution is likely to take this creditworthiness into account.

Additionally, you may have better luck applying with online lenders, some of whom specialize in bad credit home loans. This allows you to shop around from multiple lenders at once, making it easier to find one with more flexible loan requirements.


Beware “Guaranteed” Mortgages with No Credit Check

Some lenders may advertise “guaranteed” mortgage approval with no credit check, but you should be very suspicious of these promises. Federal law requires lenders to evaluate a borrower’s ability to repay a loan before approving them. Any lender that doesn’t meet this rule is offering you what is considered a “non-qualified” mortgage (non-QM), which means that it doesn’t follow a set of rules set by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Non-QM mortgages usually come with risky features and higher interest rates and costs than qualified loans.

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How to prove you’re creditworthy without a credit score

In many cases, lenders will accept alternative credit histories if you don’t have the types of accounts that show up on the credit bureau reporting systems.This nontraditional credit history involves verifying your payment history on other obligations you have over the past 12 months, including contact information for all the people you’ve paid.

Keep in mind that this alternative payment history must be spotless. If there is anything derogatory on your report, like medical collections or unpaid utility bills, you won’t be eligible for alternative credit options. Here’s how a nontraditional credit history works and what lenders look for.

Rent payment history

Absent a credit score, a lender will be most interested in how you’ve managed your rental payment history. The most recent 12 months of rent will be an indicator of whether you’re likely to pay a new mortgage on time.

You’ll need to provide a 12-month payment history with canceled checks or bank statements verifying your on-time payments. A copy of the lease will also be necessary to show that you were complying with the terms of a legal agreement, much like you will be when you obligate yourself to a mortgage.

Cash payments won’t work, and if you’re renting from a relative or friend, this won’t be acceptable for alternative credit underwriting.

Utility bills

Another sign that you are ready to buy a house is proof that you’ve paid utilities at your current residence on time. Again, you’ll have to show that the payments came out of your account with canceled checks or bank statements.

The utility bills should also show up in your name. If they don’t, you won’t be able to use the account as one of the options for your credit.

Other nontraditional credit items

In addition to having at least two housing-related items, lenders will want at least two to three other monthly payment histories to show that you can manage your obligations.

You’ll need 12 months proof of two to three of the following:

  • Cellphone bill
  • Cable bill
  • Car insurance
  • Life insurance

Any type of account that you pay monthly and have had for at least 12 months in your name will usually be acceptable for the additional credit items needed. In most cases, you won’t be eligible if you’ve had more than one 30-day late payment within the last 12 months of payment history.

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How lenders verify nontraditional credit histories

Even with documentation provided by the potential borrower, lenders will generally take additional steps to verify the payment history. Often, this comes in the form of an Anthem Report — a type of nontraditional credit report that can be provided to independently verify all the information if you aren’t able to provide canceled checks or bank statements for alternative credit accounts. This will generally only work if the accounts that need to be verified are verifiable through a third party.

Your lender will indicate if an Anthem Report is necessary, and they will order the report. You will need to provide them with the name, contact number and account information for each item for the report to be completed, and may need to provide some of the proof of payment documentation needed to produce the report.

Loan programs that allow for mortgage approval with no credit score

In addition to the loan application methods mentioned above, there are also specific lenders and mortgage loan programs that cater to low and even no credit score applicants. Some of these are government programs, which insure the loan for the lender and make it easier for them to approve borrowers with added risk factors (such as a limited credit history).
Note: None of these programs allow borrowers with no credit to purchase a second home or investment property — it will have to be your primary residence.

Loan typeMinimum credit scorePossible to qualify with no credit?Who it’s for
Conventional loans620Borrowers who don’t need to borrow more than the conforming loan limit for their area.
FHA loans500Borrowers who want to make a small down payment, or whose credit is too low to qualify for a conventional loan.
VA loansNo minimumVeterans, active-duty service members and their qualifying spouses
USDA loansNo minimum Borrowers who:
  • Live in areas designated as “rural” by the USDA
  • Earn middle to low income
Hard money loansNo minimum Borrowers who:
  • Don’t need a mortgage with a term longer than five years
  • Don’t need to borrow more than 75% of the home’s (or other collateral) value

Here’s an in-depth look at how different common programs handle potential borrowers without a credit score.

Conventional loans

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored enterprises that purchase mortgages in the residential housing market. The conventional loan programs they offer require higher credit scores than government loan programs, and less total debt compared to your income, which is also referred to as your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

While they do allow for approvals if you don’t have a credit score, there are additional restrictions.

Nontraditional creditCredit scores 680 or above
Down payment minimumsAs low as 3%
Mortgage reserve requirementsAs much as 12 months’ worth of payments as reserves, depending on applicantNone
DTI ratio maximums36%43% to 50%, depending on applicant
Private mortgage insurance (required if you make less than a 20% down payment)Amount comparable to premiums charged to borrowers with lowest credit scoresLower comparative premiums


Rate Changes for High-DTI Loans in 2023

Beginning August 1, 2023, if you have a conventional loan and your DTI rises above 40%, you could face higher interest rates or a fee at closing. This added cost only applies to those borrowing more than 60% of their home’s value and the fee will range from 0.25% to 0.375% of the loan amount.

FHA loans

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures loans with more flexibility for credit and DTI. It also allows for nontraditional credit histories, although the requirements are slightly different than conventional mortgages.

A nontraditional credit report is required

The FHA does require an independent third party credit report to verify any nontraditional credit information that you provide. All credit providers, including your rental reference, must be verifiable by an outside company — if you rent from a family member or friend, you won’t be eligible for the loan.

In most cases, you’ll need to be able to provide a 12-month payment history from three of the following sources of nontraditional credit to be considered for an FHA loan with no FICO scores:

  • Rent
  • Telephone
  • Gas, electricity, water, television service or internet service

The rent history is mandatory, but if you don’t have two more that are housing-related, the FHA will also consider the following:

  • Insurance premiums that aren’t deducted from your payroll (renters insurance, life insurance)
  • Child care payments
  • School tuition
  • Payment on medical bills not covered by insurance
  • 12-month documented history of regular cash deposits into a savings account that were at least made quarterly, and were not deducted from a paycheck. The period cannot include nonsufficient funds (NSF) penalties
  • A personal loan with terms in writing and a 12-month payment history at a regular, set amount

The payment history cannot reflect late payments in the last 12 months and no more than two 30-day late payments in the last 24 months on all other provided account histories.

Down payment and debt-to-income ratios

Without a credit score, the FHA will not allow the total debt ratio to exceed 31% for the monthly payment compared to income, and 43% for total debt divided by income. This is a more strict requirement than the allowances for borrowers with credit scores, with exceptions sometimes available up above 50% with a high credit score.

The standard down payment of 3.5% is allowed for borrowers with no credit score, and there are no additional restrictions.

FHA mortgage insurance without a credit score

One advantage of an FHA loan over a conventional mortgage is the mortgage insurance is the same regardless of credit score. FHA mortgage insurance is calculated based on the current Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines and does not vary based on FICO Score, or a lack thereof.

With FHA loans, you pay two forms of mortgage insurance. One is the upfront mortgage insurance premium which is a lump sum amount of 1.75% financed onto your loan amount if you make a minimum down payment of 3.5%. The annual mortgage insurance is between 0.80% and 1.05% for a loan term greater than 15 years, depending on the loan and down payment amount. It is paid monthly for as long as you have the loan.


FHA Mortgage Insurance Changes in 2023

FHA mortgage insurance is getting cheaper in 2023. As of March 20, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reduced its annual insurance premiums by 0.30 percentage points. That’s good news for the average FHA borrower, who will save around $800 per year.

VA loans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides eligible active duty and veteran members of the military with home loan benefits that are very different from conventional and FHA loans. The most notable differences are there is no down payment requirement and no credit score minimum, as the VA recognizes that often recently discharged veterans who were on overseas tours of duty may not have developed a credit history. That gives the VA loan a built-in system for approving exceptions for veterans with no FICO Score.

As long as the veteran can provide proof of recent rental history, and additional payment records including a history of payments on utilities, car insurance or other expenses the veteran has paid, a VA loan approval is likely.

VA mortgage insurance

Unlike conventional loans and FHA loans, a VA loan with less than a 20% down payment does not require mortgage insurance. A funding fee may be charged instead, and it is usually financed onto the loan amount.

The VA funding fee varies based on how much the veteran is putting down and whether they’ve used their home loan eligibility or not. For veterans with service related disabilities, the funding fee may be waived completely.

USDA loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers mortgage loans to people in low income areas of the country, usually in rural areas. One of the features of the program: no requirement for a down payment.

Like FHA loans, the USDA will allow borrowers to obtain a loan with no credit scores. In most cases, they prefer a traditional credit report, but a rental history, plus three additional trade references, may be acceptable as long as they have a 12-month payment history and the credit source can be verified independently.

USDA mortgage insurance

USDA loans don’t have mortgage insurance impacted by credit scores. There are guarantee fees, not to exceed 1% of the loan amount upfront and 0.35% of the loan amount annually, regardless of credit score or lack thereof.

Hard money loans

Hard money lenders often skip the question of credit altogether, since their loan approvals are largely based on the value of your collateral rather than your financial profile. This is great for borrowers with bad or no credit, but it’s also crucial to understand that they aren’t typically going to make a good replacement for a traditional mortgage. Hard money loans are often used by house flippers or other borrowers who just need a short-term loan of one to five years, and they come with much higher APRs than traditional mortgages.

What are some reasons you might not have a credit score?

In order to have a credit score, you must actually have credit that can be scored by the major credit bureaus. This can come in a number of forms, including student loans, credit cards, auto loans and charge cards.

Bad credit vs. no credit

In the eyes of a lender, having bad credit is very different from having no credit. A borrower with no credit score is simply someone who has not held credit-based and/or bureau-reported accounts in the past. They lack an official score even though they may have demonstrated financial responsibility for years.

From a lender’s perspective, having limited or no official credit history is better than having a history of mismanagement. A borrower with poor credit, on the other hand, is someone who has failed to meet their financial obligations as required. This could mean making late payments, holding delinquent accounts or carrying too-high of balances.

Here are some reasons you might not have a credit score.

You use cash instead of paying for things with traditional credit accounts

This may be something you grew up with, or a byproduct of previous bad experiences with credit. There is also a growing movement of financial advisors who advise against using credit at all.

You haven’t used credit in the last 24 months

This often happens to elderly people on a fixed income who don’t use credit often. Or maybe you’re an active duty member of the military who was on an extended tour of duty and didn’t use any credit for several years.

You are young and haven’t built credit

Recent high school graduates often fall into this category, as they may not have had any need for credit if they’ve been living at home.

You are a new immigrant to the country with no U.S. credit history

If you recently immigrated to the United States, it will take a while to start establishing a credit history. Until you have 60 to 90 days of activity on any type of credit account, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a credit score.

How to build credit

Although you can qualify for a mortgage without a credit score, you’ll have more options and fewer restrictions if you actually have a credit score. Here are some simple ways to start building a credit history.

  Get a secured credit card: A secured credit card allows you to deposit some cash, and then use it as collateral to back a credit card. The longer you use it, the more credit you build, until eventually you have enough of a score history to apply for regular unsecured cards.

  Pay bills on time: Once you’ve opened credit cards, pay them on time. Payment history makes up the biggest part of your credit score, and paying on time is the best way to build up a solid credit score.

  Open an unsecured credit card: Once you’ve got some credit history established, you can open a traditional credit card, and then use it sparingly. Keep in mind that just having the card doesn’t generate a score — you must actually use it and make payments to drive the score.

  Become an authorized user on a credit card: If you have a friend or family member who is willing to let you be an authorized user on their card, you can build some credit history. However, use it with caution: Your payment decisions will also affect the person you are authorized to use the card with, so your late payments become their late payments.

  Take out a credit builder loan: These are offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders, and involve the bank depositing a small sum of money into a savings account or CD for the borrower, without actually being able to access it at first. The borrower makes payments on the balance over a set period, usually six months to two years, and receives the money after the payments are made.

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