When you buy a house, a big part of a lender’s decision whether to approve your mortgage rests on whether or not you can afford it.If you have a lot of debt, the monthly payments on those obligations chip away at the total amount you can pay each month on a mortgage.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to buy a house if you’re in debt. It’s just a bit more challenging. If you want to stop paying rent and enter the exciting world of homeownership, here’s how you can pay off debt to buy a house.

## 1. Calculate Your Debt to Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio, often called DTI ratio, is a measurement that compares the amount of debt you have to your income. It helps determine how much you can actually afford when it comes to mortgage payments.

### How Much Debt Can You Have and Still Qualify for a Mortgage?

Most lenders won’t approve you if your DTI is higher than around 43%.

For example, let’s say you make \$52,000 a year. This means your gross income each month is around \$4,333. If half your paycheck is devoted to paying off debts, then about \$2,166 of your income goes towards paying off your various debts.

By these numbers, your DTI would be 50%. The bank would probably not approve you for a mortgage since your DTI is higher than the maximum 43%. To fix this problem, you can do one of two things: start making more money and/or lower your monthly recurring debt payments.

## 2. Find Ways to Decrease Your Debt

### Consolidate Loans

Qualifying for a mortgage partially depends on what part of your monthly gross income is paid towards the minimum amount due on recurring bills. These might include credit card bills, student loan payments, car loans and other payments. Consolidating can be a way to reduce that amount.

What does consolidating mean? Consider an example where you have five credit card payments each month. Consolidating them means that instead of making five separate payments to individual lenders, you make onepayment each month.

If your credit is good enough, you may be able to get a consolidation loan with better terms. That means your one consolidated payment may be lower than the five payments combined. You can consolidate student loans, too, and get the same potential benefits.

After you’ve consolidated, you can re-calculate your DTI ratio. If it’s lower, you may fall below the DTI threshold required to be approved for a mortgage.

### Pay Off or Pay Down Some Debt

If you make an effort to pay off or pay down some of your existing debt, this can help decrease your DTI ratio and make your financial picture look more favorable to lenders. It may be best to concentrate on paying off recurring debts, such as credit cards, to help your chances.

#### Is It Best to Pay Off Debt Before Buying a House?

There’s no one right answer to this question. It can depend on your mortgage lender. Your mortgage lender may want you to pay off debt before making a down payment while others may be okay with your DTI and want a larger down payment. If you’re under the 43% DTI and have a good credit history, you might consider working with a mortgage lender to find out what your options are.

### Credit Repair

If any debts listed on your credit report aren’t yours, this could be hurting your overall financial health. Make sure to closely examine the details of your credit report and make sure the accounts listed are actually ones you’re responsible for. If you do notice errors on your credit report, you can work to repair your credit by disputing the entries.

## 3. Find Ways to Increase Your Income

One of the ways to make your DTI more favorable is to increase your income. You can usually do this by either getting a better paying job or by getting a second job if you have the means. If you’re married and are applying for a mortgage with your joint income, perhaps your spouse can get a job to help increase their income. One drawback to this solution is that it’s a long-term solution and not a short-term one. Getting a new job, whether primary or secondary, takes time and effort.

## 4. Consider Making a Down Payment

Contrary to popular belief, a 20% down payment on a home isn’t required in many cases. FHA loans, for instance, only require 3.5% down, and some mortgage lenders may only ask for 5% down on a conventional loan.

However, keep in mind that the more you put down upfront, the less your monthly payments are and the lower your interest rate is likely to be. If you can put more money down, it makes the mortgage more affordable. If you’re hovering at the higher end of an acceptable DTI ratio, that may make a difference.

## Looking at the Big Picture

When you’re ready to buy a house, it’s important to consider your level of debt, how much money you have coming in and your job security. If you’re able to consolidate your debt and get lower monthly payments as a result, your job is well-paying and seems secure and your credit is excellent, you can probably buy a home even if you have other debts.

## Assess the Risks

Remember that just because you might qualify for a home loan doesn’t mean you should buy a house. Stretching your limits to meet that 43% DTI ratio can be risky unless you foresee your income continuing to rise oryou know any debt obligations you have are set to be paid off in the future.

## Can Paying Off Debt Hurt My Credit Score?

Most of the time, paying off debt has a neutral or positive impact to your credit score. First, you decrease your credit utilization, which accounts for 30% of your credit score. A lower credit utilization can bring up your score. Second, you show the lender that you have the means to pay off debts, which can be a positive factor in whether you’re approved.

However, in a few cases, paying off debt could lower your score. If you pay off old accounts, you could change the age of your credit. How old your accounts are play a role in your score. You could also reduce your credit mix, which also factors into your score.

Neither of these factors plays as large a role as credit utilization, though. And if your mortgage company wants to see you with less outstanding debt, a tiny and temporary hit to your credit score may be worth getting approved for a loan.

To find out more about your credit score and where you stand with financial health, sign up for a free Credit Report Card today. You’ll get feedback about the five major areas that impact your score and how you can improve them before applying for a mortgage.

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• Jeanine Skowronski

It really all depends on your credit profile and what happens after you take on the loan. That’s because your score could go up or down as a result of the move. For instance, if you use the loan to pay off the credit cards and then don’t run up the balances again, your credit utilization could improve and your score could go up. But if you were to pay off the cards with the loans, then run up more debt, the opposite could happen since you’ve now got more debt on the books. Plus, you’ll incur a hard inquiry for the personal loan application.

Some other notes: Multiple inquiries right ahead of a mortgage application could be seen as a sign of risk, but it really all depends on a lender. Ultimately, whether you get a mortgage (and what you pay) is going to come down to two major things: your credit score and your DTI.

https://www.credit.com/debt/debt-to-income-ratio/

https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/credit-score-for-home-loan/

Thanks,

Jeanine

• sandra

HELLO, I’m in the processes of getting preapproved to buy at house, I have \$20.000 student loan and \$9.000 car loan should I pay off my car loan in full or better pay that 9.000 into my student loan, which one e I should pay off thank you

• Jeanine Skowronski

Your prospective lender may be able to provide some insight into what they need to see in order for you to meet their underwriting standards.

Thanks,

Jeanine

• Corrina Escobar

Hello can I still ask a norte age question? Al these were asked a year ago just wondering if i can still ask And get an Answer

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

Of course. We try to answer as many questions as we can, though we can’t get to all of them. What’s up?

• xtremetenacity

Hello,

I have already been preapproved for a loan of \$280K but am hoping to get preapproved for a loan of \$300K possibly from another lender. I currently have \$5K worth of debt through credit cards, if I pay all of this off will I have a better chance of getting preapproved for the \$300K?

• Alesha Roby-Clarke

Hi Scott,
My husband and I are looking into building our first home. Currently we have 3 car loans (50K), 2 credit cards (\$5100), 1 line of credit account (\$2500), we are planning to pay \$13600 of this total next month. Leaving us with \$44K (2 car loans, with a monthly payment of \$784.01). Our monthly income is \$5900. Our credit scores are 695 and 720. Do you think we have a chance of being approved for a fairly decent amount after 45 days after we make these payments? We will have 3.5% down payment (required amount by builder). Or should we strive to pay down the more on the car loans? I also have student loan which are currently deferred but we make payments of \$60 a month on them.

• AT

Hello,
My husband and I want to buy a house in a year to a year and a half. We both currently have credit scores above 750 (His is 759 and mine is 761) We each have some credit card debt that will be paid off in 6-8 months. The only remaining monthly debt we will have will be about \$3000 from a personal loan for a car that we pay \$150 towards each month. Our Gross monthly income is \$5000 and we will have around \$40,000 towards a down payment. Will we be able to purchase a home around \$380,000? That is the going rate in my area.

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

It’s best to check with a lender in your area to see what your options might be. And it could also depend on where interest rates are in 12-18 months. (You’ll also be looking at trying to buy a house with less than 20% down, which could mean having to pay private mortgage insurance, further increasing your costs.) You can read more here:

• Amber

Hi, we have about \$10k cc debt. We are trying to sell our home currently. Can we still get a mortgage once we sell and pay off cc then? Or should we get a loan to pay them off now to raise our debt to income ratio? Thanks,amber

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

I’m sorry but I’m finding your question bit confusing. It’s generally harder to get a new mortgage when you already have a mortgage, then it is when you don’t. The new lender will have to take into account both of your mortgages when trying to determine if you qualify for the new loan. So unless you are in a rush to buy, selling your home, and paying off your credit card and your mortgage is probably the way to go. But I recommend you talk with a trusted lender to make sure that there’s not something I’m missing here.

Hello, I have a question that hasn’t been answered at least I didn’t read any that asked this question. I am in a situation where I am looking to start getting into real estate investing. I want to start out with an FHA loan at 3.5%. My yearly income jumped from 61k last year to a whopping 250k this year. Even so, the mortgage broker I’m working with can only take the last two years of tax returns. Here is where it gets tricky. She said we could add the last six months of my profit/loss in the equation so we can look at the previous 30 months. When we did the calculations we were looking at about 4k per month of income on average due to 2013 giving me an income of (after tax deductions) about 13k even though I made closer to 23k. I am an independent contractor so I have a 1099 instead of a W2.

So now I am stuck with this issue. I have a family member who has a condo that they have paid off that is worth 100k and they said I could put that property in possession of my LLC to help qualify for a higher mortgage. Is this something that is realistic? I haven’t ever dealt with this so I’m not sure if this would help me. My debt right now is 37k in school loans, 293\$ per month in car payment (I am pondering paying this off-total of 9k in final payments) as well as 50\$ per month of recurring credit card debt.

So I guess I’m just wondering if that is a good option or if it would be less messy to pay off the car and maybe either pay off half or more of the student debts. I would rather not put my cash into paying off debt because of my plans to buy property, but would rather pay off the student debt in the future as I gain more cash flow. My credit score is 728 as well. The income of 250k is from 2015 and I have about 60k so far from that and 50k in savings right now.

Any information is welcome.

• ScottSheldonCaliforniaLender

Hello,
Post for us the following information so I can attempt to answer your question:

your minimum payments you have on all credit obligations

the total amount of money you have to spend on buying a home

Answer these questions and I can answer your question about the best use of your dollars. I understand some of these questions might otherwise be identified in this big question, but if you can just get right to the heart of the matter, I can you a clear sense of direction or at least take a stab at it,

• Chris Myers

OK.
I have been bitten by the “I want a house” bug. I got divorced in 2011, and in the process, it pretty much killed my credit, as I had to pay lawyers and child support instead of bills. I have since been working to get things back on track. I monitor all three of my credit scores, and I have been up and down. Mainly because I have small credit cards with low max’s and due to getting re-married, Christmas, Summer visitations and a move they are currently close to maxed out. I will get them paid off again by November, but I still have a couple of pretty hefty bills left over from before the divorce I haven’t been able to address. One is just over 6k, and the other is 5.5K. As a veteran, I started looking at VA loans. They said I have to get the two big ones either settled or paid off before I can go VA. My Scores are all at 593, 603, and 609. My scores jump and drop 40 something points depending on the balances of my CC’s. I am not a big fan of renting for another 2 years as I work to pay off the other loans..let alone come up with any kind of down payment, especially since my rent is as high as a mortgage payment already. My wife’s scores are higher than mine, and she doesn’t have the same issue with back debt. I am just wondering if there are any other options for us, or are we stuck?

• ScottSheldonCaliforniaLender

Chris-your credit scores while they are not stellar, they should be good to get a mortgage. I would encourage you to apply. If you apply and you are denied or you can’t qualify ask the mortgage company specifically what you have to do to qualify.. While the things that you identify above are certainly factors in the overall qualifying scenario, VA and FHA for that matter is incredibly forgiving. You might want to call your credit cards and ask them to increase the credit limits not so you can borrow more, but so you can increase your utilization of credit which if approved would subsequently increase your credit score over time. I hope this information helps and thanks for sharing and posting.

• Charlie

I was wondering if It was a way to get some kind of loan too use it to pay off your car loans and use what’s left to buy a home? That way all you have is 1 payment

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

The problem with that kind of loan would be that you would pay the car off over a very long period of time–longer than the car would last. Or you’d have to pay the mortgage off very quickly!

• ScottSheldonCaliforniaLender

Yes, it’s a personal loan. You can get a personal loan to pay off debt with, and whatever is left over that is money you could use to buy house with. Typically, in this type of scenario borrowed in down payment funds are not acceptable. The best scenario would be for you to take that money from the personal loan as long as your debt load will support it with your income, and let it sit in a bank account for 60 days so the money is seasoned and then the money is eligible for you to buy a home with as it becomes savings/reserves money not borrowed funds.

• chasity king

hi im wanting to buy my first home i have a car with only 940 left to
pay which will be paid off next month and a credit card of 1740 im bout
to start paying off which will be done in nov and 2 other loans that
equal about 1000.00 and i will have that paid off in october which will
leave me owing on a kays card and an old navy card and minimum bills
like cell phone aand stuff will that help me to get approved for a house
loan my husband has a credit card and a loan and student loans and
thats it what can we do to help us improve our chances of getting a home
by the first of the year

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

Chasity —

• courtney clark

I have a question if we apply for a credit card and put nothing on it does that affect his credit score? or his debt to income if there is nothing on it?

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

Courtney —
It will help, but just a little. Credit age, or how long you’ve had credit, is a factor in your credit score. However, payment history (a history of on-time payments) counts almost twice as much. So it will help much more to use the card, even for minimal charges, like a trip to Starbucks every month, and pay on time. Another option is to put a small, recurring bill on the card and automate payment. That would have a much bigger effect on credit scores.

• ScottSheldonLoans

No debt to income ratio will not be affected with an open credit line with no balance.

• Erika

Hi I’ve been paying off my debts slowly for the past 5-6 years..my score was 727 from experian fico and now that I paid my car off my score dropped to 691! I was shocked that it would drop so much after I have no more debt..do you know how long it will take to go back up? I have zero debt now and I have 20k saved..I want to start looking for a place but my score seems low..

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

Erika —
Paying off accounts often does not help. What DOES help is making sure you are paying on time and that you keep any charge card balances low relative to your credit limits (you definitely want it less than 30%, and less than 10% would be even better). You are wise to be checking your credit scores before you apply for a mortgage. Have you also checked your free annual credit reports? The information used to calculate your scores, so errors there could be hurting your score. We suggest checking those carefully and disputing any information that is wrong. You can also get a free credit report summary from Credit.com that offers some insights into why your score is what it is and how you can improve it.
But zero debt could actually be a problem. Credit scoring models are looking for a track record that shows you pay agreed and on time, and if there is little in the way of a record, it can be harder to get credit. You can consider a so-called “credit-builder” loan at a credit union, or you could apply for a secured card, and then charge no more than 10% of its limit and pay the balance in full every month. Here are other suggestions:
How to Build Credit the Smart Way

• hunneysue

My husband and I are looking at buying a 2nd house in another state. We don’t want to sell our current home but have a renter lined up willing to pay the full mortgage payment we are now. (have a rental agreement drawn up and it helps that it is his mother) We talked to a bank and they told my husband his dti was too high (said 51%) and for the life of me I can not figure out where they are coming up with that figure. I looked at last year’s gross income and only his debts as it would be in his name only since I do not work (my credit score is fine, I do have some minor debts like student loans and a credit card, that are being paid off..actually my student loans will be paid off a year and a half early..by my mom as part of an agreement that she’d pay those if I would stay home to care for her, which I do). front end dti for the numbers I am crunching is 35%, back end (we have a house in mind and know what the loan amt etc would be so going on the bank’s estimated payments with ins and taxes) dti would be 43%. What could they be counting that I am missing? This is frustrating because the dti still counts our current mortgage as part of that debt without taking into account any money gained by it being rented (they wouldn’t accept just a rental agreement without proof of on going rent payments!). His credit score is 775 and we already have 10% of the loan avail in our savings account. Any advice?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

It’s hard for us to guess what they are counting that you aren’t. Have you asked them to go over it in detail with you? Also remember rent usually does not count at 100% either, even if the rent is covering your costs it will be counted at 75% is my understanding.

• Jennifer Ortiz

Hi there. My husband and I faced a horrible tragedy in 2008 with a child and due to this suffered several collections. Most are over 5-6 years old and only 2 are over \$1000. My credit is sitting at about 618 Experian and 585 on the other two. If we sell our house we stand to make a large profit. We are going to use that profit to pay off our cars and all debt. Plus have a decent deposit on another house. However I will leave small credit card with a small balance to boost credit. So our debt to income ratio will be excellent but I am trying to boost credit. How long do you think it will take and will a lender work with us with the old collections? The credit predictor is estimating a 675 – 685 credit score with the changes. We would like to build so we have some time.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

We’re so sorry to hear what you’ve been through. Remember collection accounts may be reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor, regardless of whether they are paid or unpaid. If he fell behind in 2008, then it sounds like it is getting close to the time period where those can no longer be reported. This article goes into more details about collection accounts: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

• Anne B

• AH

I am currently trying to buy a house but my credit is a 638 now that my lender has ran my credit. It was in the 640s. Anyways he is saying my dept to income ratio needs to be lowered and to try and refinance my truck. I’ve tried 2 banks and both have denied me because of delta in collections and not enough credit history. What can I do?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Is there any way for you to get some additional work to pay down debt so you can qualify — even on a temporary basis? If not it may be that you have to wait until you have some time to bring up your scores. I am sorry if this seems vague; it’s very difficult to advise based on limited information.

• AH

I’m currently in school at night so I don’t really have time to pick up anymore work. And thank you for your help. I’m open to any ideas on something that could help.

• YJ

Hi Scott,
I purchased a TIC in San Francisco. We have been approved to convert to condo so, will all need to refinance once the conversion is completed. We’ve all just paid the city a fee of \$20,000 per unit to do so and, it’s pretty much a go at this point.
I’ve put in 25% down for the TIC loan. I currently have close to \$30k in credit card debt. Should I take out a personal loan to consolidate my cc debt before I have to refi?
Any other relevant tips for this situation?

• kewi

Hi Scott, I have a lot of debt and about a 620 credit because if debt to income ratio. I was not financially savy in my youth and if i needed the funds i just got it from whatever lender would lend it. As of current i have 4 personAl loans and 4 credit cards 3 of which are nearly maxed out and 1 store card. Would it be a better option to take out a 5th larger loan to pay everything under one roof and make large payments? Right now i pau about 900 on them separately. ..but will the inquiries searching for the new loan hurry about 6 months down the road when I’m ready to purchase?

• ScottSheldonLoans

Yes without the means to pay off the credit cards in full consolidating the accounts into one new account with a low monthly payment will open up your available credit increasing your credit score and hopefully the same time will reduce the minimum payment associated with the total balance improving your debt to income ratio. If your timeline is six months, this would be a good approach to take.

• Vivaan

Hi Scott,

I am planning to buy my first house. I make \$120K annually. My credit score is over 760. I have fixed monthly payouts on a old personal loans and credit cards of \$1600. I would have paid off 2 of these loans in the next 6-8 months bringing the monthly payout down to \$1000. Monthly car loan of about \$500. Revolving credit card debts of around \$1200 every moth which I pay off in full. I don’t have enough savings after my down payment. I was planning on taking a personal loan to consolidate debt into lower monthly payments and also have some extra cash on hand after my saving are gone in down payments. That way I would have brought down my monthly payouts to round \$600 and have only one debt to pay for. My question is that though this will give me more cash on hand – but will this affect my home loan approval. I do have a pre approval from a bank which just checked my credit report and asked basic questions. Seek your advise.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Hi Vivaan,

To answer your question I need the minimum monthly payments on all of your obligations you pay each month. Just the minimum monthly payment. Can you post it here for us? Then I can email you back also tell me how much you have to spend on house, total dollar amount?

• Sawan

Hi Scott,

I have two questions:

Question 1:
I currently live in a rented apartment right now and trying to finalize a home and get into it at least 2-3 months before the apartment lease finishes. This overlap would basically allow for setup of the new home.

I want to understand if there is a way to close the loan, but not let the installments start for until 2-3 months. I am basically looking to see how I can avoid dual expenses on a apartment rent and the loan installment.

When I had got a car loan, they allowed for the loan installment to start 45 days after the loan closure. So just curious how mortgage loan works.

Question 2:
Me and wife both have a healthy credit score (mine is around 750, my wife’s is close to 800).
My wife used to work in 2014 and is now again searching for a job in the state that we moved to.
Would her credit score help us in getting a better loan, although she does not have a income to show right away?

• ScottSheldonLoans

For question one the answer is 60 days, but not longer. This will mean more prepaid interest, more cash to close up front at close of escrow, but, should help your situation nicely with the dual housing expenses. For question two her credit score would not help if she doesn’t have any income to bring to the picture. In fact even if her credit score is higher than yours, any debt she brings to the picture would only worsen the structure of the loan so I will probably advocate keeping her off the loan, based on what you’re sharing here.

• http://www.thecemeteryexchange.com MFW

Is it still the rule that if you have a credit card balance and it can be paid off within 10 months that the mortgage broker does not include as part of your DTI?

• ScottSheldonLoans

No if there is a debt it is counted, no matter what.

• http://www.thecemeteryexchange.com MFW

Thank you Scott – I better get crackin’!

• Trusteve

We just paid off all of our cc debt… Would it hurt to see if we got approved for a home mortgage? Or should we wait?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Congrats! (Hopefully you didn’t close out all your accounts after you paid them off.) It can take up to a month or so to see all the balances updated. How about monitoring your scores to see when that happens and then get preapproved? You can free credit score here.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Agreed with Geri–paying them off in full was a smart move, but hopefully you did not close those accounts. Assuming that you did pay them off in full and did not close those accounts, you would probably want to wait at least 30 days moving into next month so the credit report shows no liability this way it’s just a mortgage payment against your income with no other debt.

• Red

I also did the ‘how much home you can afford’ and it states that I can afford a home of a little over \$5k
But I didn’t get it

• Red

Hi
First of all, thank you so much for the article!
Now I’d like to ask you something.
I am single, no children but I have a car loan of \$560/month for another 5 years.
I also have in credit/department stores cards debts that total almost \$14k distributed in 9 cards
My mothly income is \$2800gross and \$2230net
I’ve been paying rent for over 8 years now.
I really want to buy a house but my credit score is in the 600s because of the balances of the card being to high compared to the limits (which is true, most of them are 95%used) and many inquiries(idk why)
Would I still qualify for a mortgage given all the circumstances?how would these debts impact my chances on qualifying and being able to apply for a mortgage?

• ScottSheldonLoans

2800 gross income – total liabilities you can take on would be \$1260 per month less 560 car payment less minimum payments on credit cards would be how much total mortgage payment you could take on after other current liabilities are paid first. Answer question whether or not you can qualify it is unknown with out knowing your credit score, your down payment, or how much those credit card obligation payments are.

• michael

I can get your scores higher, that is simple and easy. I was 575 two months ago and now I am a 752

How can you get scores higher???

• Jeanine Skowronski

You can pay down high credit card balances, limit new credit inquiries, make sure you are paying all accounts on time.

Thanks,

Jeanine

• Josh F

Hello,
I have a question regarding what to do with the money from the sale of my current home. We are building a new home for around 425K, we have car loans and student loan debt that totals approximately 55k. Would it be better to pay off all of our non mortgage debt with the proceeds from the sale of our current home or put all of the money towards the new home? If we put all of the money from the sale of our current home towards the new home, it will equal to roughly 20% of the sales price.
Thank you,
Josh

• CJR

I would love some advice before I start the home buying process. My fiance and I have about \$10k combined credit card debt and 2 car loans at about \$20k each. We have credit scores in the 700s but don’t have much money to put towards a down payment. Would you suggest trying to pay off credit first, or start saving more for a down payment? Thank you!

• ScottSheldonLoans

This depends solely on what your personal goals and objectives are. Assuming you want to purchase a house immediately the best thing you could do is consolidate your liabilities reducing the minimum monthly payment and take the savings generated by completing the consolidation and use that towards the down payment to purchase a home.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

There are so many moving parts to a credit score – and so many different models – that it’s impossible to say that you should do exactly this or that. Paying off debt is also tricky. The mortgage company won’t look at you negatively because you’ve paid off debt. They just want the score. And in the case of the installment loan, paying it off completely could mean you have fewer open installment accounts which could potentially impact your score, but it depends on everything else in your report.

I suggest you ask the lender who gave you the preapproval lender what you need to do to get preapproved for a larger amount. They have the full picture – income, assets, credit scores etc and are in the best position to advise you on next steps.

• ScottSheldonLoans

This would help your score with the debt pay downs and opening the amount of free credit available. Also paying off the debt would help mean you could take on more mortgage payment and potentially not have any disturbance to your cash flow as you would be replacing bad debt with good debt.

• Ashleylou08

I have a question. So I have been blessed with outside resources to pay for my car and a previous home in full. I have no debt. But I also have no credit. I’ve heard the phrase “no credit can be as bad as bad credit”. So my question is this. I will be purchasing a new home again soon but will be needing a mortgage. Is it better for me to open a credit card at say Best Buy and finance something and pay it off within the first few payments to have some form if credit before meeting with the lender? Or an I better of not opening any credit cards at all and having to out down a larger down payment? My fiancé is the breadwinner at the moment and has decent credit but also has a car payment. But While I don’t have credit I do have a nice chunk if money in my savings. What do you think out best option is?

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

• Jay

Scott/Gerri,

I’d appreciate a little guidance from you guys, my current situation is as follows. I am looking into buying a home a next year between the price ranges of 350k to 500k. I apllied for a pre approval letter last year and was offered 300k. I have car loan which I owe about 11k (its the highest monthly by over \$300.00) and 2 school loans at 3.5k and 15k. I just purchased some furniture with a loan from a bank because it was no interest for 4 years, and that is about 4.5k. I got a credit card last year because I didn’t have any revolving credit and now my score has come from 650 to 715, and I pay the card off monthly. I’d like to see if paying off my loans in full will help me increase this amount. I wasn’t going to pay the furniture off because I was told lenders typically like to see a couple of years of payments prior to paying things off? I make about 14k/mo., but that includes about 8k considered as bonus not salary (not sure if lenders consider the bonus as part of the income), and I would be able to pay these right now and still have funds in the bank. In essence I would be debt free, minus the credit card which I use to pay bills with and pay off every month. Your advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

How is the furniture loan reported on your credit reports? As as revolving account or installment account? If it’s a revolving account then the important factor there is utilization. If the reported balance is high in comparison to the credit limit then paying it down could boost your credit scores. You might try paying it down to 10% of the available credit to see what that does to your scores.

Paying down installment accounts can help though typically not as much. Again you could pay it down to that level, keep a small balance and see what that does to your scores. Paying it down to 10% of the credit limit/high balance shouldn’t hurt and may help, but I never like to guarantee what will happen with one particular action – there are too many moving parts in credit scores to say for certain!

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

We published an article on this topic recently: I Have Unpaid Debt on My Credit Report. Can I Still Get a Mortgage?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

It’s great that your fiance is making progress paying off debt. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds like you may have to put your homebuying plans on hold while your fiance works on his credit scores. Raising a score that much in a short period of time is difficult. For one thing, paying off collection accounts typically does little to boost your credit scores (and that’s certainly true under the scoring models most mortgage lenders use).

It sounds like he has multiple negative accounts on his credit and not much in the way of recent positive information. The secured card can help (if he keeps the balances super low) but it’s not an overnight thing. It will take time to build up positive payment history and for the negative history to “age” or become older. He certainly should monitor his credit scores and once he gets into the low 600s (using the same FICO models mortgage lenders use) you can talk with a mortgage lender to see what else you need to do to qualify. I hope that helps!

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Ricky – Mind sharing your phone number so I can reach out to you that way? Comments are moderated so we won’t publish it.

• LittleBritches

I want to buy a home, I tried to pre-qualified but the lender said I had some old debt/collections agencies on my report. That I would have to pay them off before they would make any loans. I checked my report and most of them are zombie debt agencies collecting on debt that is over 6-10 yrs old. Some are schedule to “fall off” my credit report in 3 months to a 1 yr. One one account it has been sold 4 times!! What do I do?

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

Possibly. Prices vary widely, and it would also depend on your credit. You’ll want to check your credit reports for accuracy. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. And you can also get free credit scores from Credit.com. That way, you’ll have an idea of where you stand credit wise.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

It is perfectly fine to pay off your student loans. They won’t disappear from your credit reports when they are paid off, and if they had on-time payments those will still help the overall credit score.

• ScottSheldonLoans

All the lender can do is give you suggestions to reduce the debt to income ratio. If they’re trying to reduce the debt to income ratio and the lease payment will fix that, then all they need is documentation to show the lease is no longer in effect and that you guys own title to the car without the obligation to make payments on it to the creditor.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Hi there no the plan won’t be considered, the debt would need to be paid off if that’s a hold back from loan approval.Can’t count his income for qualifying unless he is on the loan.

• ScottSheldonLoans

You guys can pay off those liabilities and apply for a mortgage within just a few short weeks of doing so just make sure to tell the lender that you just did this action that they might have to do with color rapid rescore where they get your credit score changed by virtue of paying off previous liabilities.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Nancy,
Yes,you should be able to take the monies in your bank account and use those to pay off debt to qualify. However before you do that, if your debt ratio is literally only 45.1, try to get the interest rate lower with the lender .125% or get the hazard insurance reduced. One of those directions might be faster, and easier and you don’t need any of your own cash typically to do that unless your pain discount points to purchase the interest rate down .125%. That’s probably a better direction to take because lenders still allow loans up to 45% debt to income/payment income ratio.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Nancy – Did you talk with your loan officer about this strategy? If you have an experienced loan officer they should be able to provide some direction. After all, that’s how they get paid is by making loans!

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

We wish there were an easy answer to your question. Delinquent accounts stay on your credit report for 7.5 years after the original account was reported late. Repaying the debt doesn’t make it disappear from your credit report, unfortunately. You can and should keep an eye on your scores to make sure you are on track. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

The First Thing to Do Before Buying a Home

• ScottSheldonLoans

Sean yes you will. Once the UW see its, they cannot just ignore it.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Megan,

Your best bet is to talk with a mortgage professional who can look at all of your information to see if you’re ready to qualify. However, I would caution you about trying to take on new debt when you aren’t currently paying your student loan debt. To have a plan for tackling this debt when it is out of deferment?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

Ashleigh,

Are you taking out federal student loans or private student loans? Federal student loans are much safer generally than private loans.

The other question is whether you are building any kind of savings. Are you able to set any money aside or using it off pay off the car loan?

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

A personal loan could be a good idea. If you can get a loan at a decent fixed rate and then pay the \$500 a month you were paying on your car toward this debt it sounds like you could pay it off in about 48 months. If you decide to buy a home during that time, the payment on that loan will figure into your debt ratio, but so would your credit card payments if you left the debt on your cards. If you can add the amount that you are currently pain in your credit card to the loan payment you may be able to pay it off even faster. You can search personal loans here.

• http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

The problem with rolling those loans into a mortgage is that a. you’ll take much longer to pay them off and b. you are putting your home at risk for consumer debt. If you can’t pay your credit card or auto loan, they can’t take your home. But if you can’t pay your mortgage, you could lose the roof over your head.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Hi there,

I would pay off the car, as the car probably has the largest
minimum monthly payment due.I could be wrong, but in my experience car
payments are substantially more than a credit card payment or even a student
loan payment. Since the reality of it is that you’re going to be purchasing a
home with some form of consumer debt the key here is to do it with as
lowest possible minimum monthly payments on consumer liabilities as possible
which means getting rid of the car- translates to the biggest bang for your buck in terms
of borrowing ability. I wouldn’t worry too much about your credit score
dropping by paying off the car either. Once the car payment is gone, that
payment can go towards saving up for the monies to buy a home or for doing
exactly what you mentioned, paying off consumer liabilities.

• Amy

Hi Scott, great info! Quick question- We are pre-ratified contract and completed pre-qualification and approval for mortgage. Loan officer today said our DTI is great until they run the “worst case scenario” of Max 2% increase in 5 years after 5yr fixed rate. We discussed several options and I was told lowering our monthly car payment would improve our ratio. I was concerned about having credit pulled to refi car loan or purchase car with lower payment & was told that would not be an issue since credit was already pulled its valid for 4 months. Does this seem accurate? I’ll gladly get a lower car payment.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Amy,

• JJ

Hi Scott, How long do I have to wait in order to apply credit after the escrow is closed??? I’m trying to buy some new furniture for my new home

• ScottSheldonLoans

JJ,

Good question, as soon as escrow/transaction “records” , you’re good.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Yes, you would need to provide a lien release from the lender because it’s not been report to the credit bureaus that quickly.

• ScottSheldonLoans

Hi Dave,

Because you are a sole proprietor is little bit different.
You need to show the business debts are paid for by the business, identified on
your schedule C. If they are not paid by the business then they become a
personal liability and they will affect your debt to income ratio in that
particular instance. Your personal debts for \$500 per month, would need to be
paid off prior to closing escrow and would have to be subsequently closed in
order for the lender to not account for the \$500 per month liability against
your income. The key here is that it has to be paid off and closed in can’t
just simply be paid off because the credit line would remain open which would
further mean you could accumulate debt again. After-the-fact, you could always
open up a credit card again anyway. Hope this helps with your situation.

• Val Croft

Scott,
We have just closed on a home refi with a cash out option to pay off about \$10,000 in credit card debt. FYI our debt to income ratio is approx 22%. Four days after we closed our credit union is asking that I sign forms to close my credit cards. This was never disclosed as a condition to the loan, my documentation with the credit union shows payoff only. I am not comfortable with closing my 2 credit cards. What are my options? Thanks so much.

• http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

From Scott Sheldon:

First off congratulations being able to keep your debt loads low, a 22% debt
to income ratio is fantastic! Cash out refi usually does not have an
option to pay off credit cards but rather happens in one of two ways.
The first way is that you did receive a \$10,000 cash after-the-fact and
then in it becomes your choice to pay off the credit cards or, it was a
requirement of the loan to pay off debt to qualify which is what it
sounds like wherein these credit cards would’ve been paid off through
the close of escrow. It sounds as if that’s what transpired based on
your description. If the loan was set up with you paying off the credit
cards and a credit union was notified, you might want to ask your credit
union since the refi has already happened if you can keep the cards
open. Otherwise, you may have to close the cards and then reopen them
after-the-fact. Hope this helps!

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