September 9th, 2011

Credit Karma Answers: How do I build credit to buy a house?

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Ready to take the plunge into becoming a homeowner? Make sure your credit is in tip-top shape first! Check out these tips, from our Credit Advisor, Justine Rivero.

You’re going to need great credit if you want to get approval from a lender, as well as the best interest rates possible.

But if you’re worried that your credit may not be in tip-top shape, we have a couple of steps to help you build it back up.

Step 1: Check your Credit Score.

By checking your credit score, you’ll have a baseline and will know how much you have to improve in order to get the best rates possible. You need at least a 660 score just to get approved by a lender. However, if you want to get the best interest rates and save the most money, you’ll need at 720+.

Step 2: Improve Areas of Your Credit Report Card.

Now that you know your credit score, it’s time to figure out what areas of your credit report card you can improve so you can improve your credit health. Your Credit Report Card is kind of like a snapshot of your credit report. It boils down your credit health to a few key components. That way, you can take a look at it, see what grade you got, and know where you need to improve.

Step 3: Credit is Important, But Don’t Over Stress. Breathe!

Phew. Ok, on to step 4!

Step 4: Remember That Your Daily Credit Actions Affect Your Credit Score.

Now that you know what areas you need to improve on, now’s the time (before you buy your house) to take the next couple of months to build up your credit score. Whether that’s by paying down your debts or using your credit cards better, remember that everyday, your credit actions affect your credit score.

Step 5: Be Patient and Remain Proactive. It Takes Time to Build Excellent Credit!

It’ll take a couple of months, even a few years to build up your credit score, but we promise it’ll be worth it in the end. If you want to save thousands of dollars on your mortgage, building up your credit score is the way to go.

So track your credit score and your progress with Credit Karma and watch your credit health improve!

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Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. This is a great primer. Preparing your credit for home ownership is a lot of work, but most certainly worth it.

    Bennie Rupe at 8:34 pm on September 14, 2011
  2. I’ve been living “debt free” like Dave Ramsey told me to. But I’m ready to move out of my apartment and buy a house. I’ve saved up plenty for a down payment, but my credit score is really lousy since I don’t have a lot of debt. (stupid system). What do you suggest? Is there another way I can prove that I’m credit worthy to the loan company?

    Mark Wilson at 7:25 am on September 16, 2011
  3. I can boast a 741 CK score but what about a spouse’s credit score? Is it better to not put the spouse under the mortgage? Can a spouse’s credit be separate in a marriage?

    Ted at 1:42 pm on November 2, 2011
  4. When I finally began searching for a home, I plan to be financed by a FHA lender. To be approved for a FHA loan a 620 credit score is required, not 660. Plus they only require 3% down instead of the usual 20%. I have also been told that lenders are more likely to approve these loans over traditional loans becasue if the buyer fails to pay the loan it is insured by the government.

    Alaina at 9:42 pm on November 14, 2011
  5. please take off the 13 credit that turned down. It time thay been on lone enuff.thanks.Gail E taylor

    Gail at 2:27 pm on June 23, 2013
  6. I work with people who have credit issues all the time that have gotten approved for loans. Remember the scores you get on credit karma or any site online are different than a mortgage report. Check out The Lenders Network they help people with credit issues, self employed or other issues most banks cannot approve. They have a few lenders that go down to a 580 for FHA loans.

    Randy Gates at 7:25 pm on October 22, 2013
  7. Has anyone actually used NACA for . A mortgage. Should I ask an attorney before using them

    Robin at 2:50 pm on August 27, 2014

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