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Mortgages: Back to Basics…

June 11, 2010

What Do I Need to Get a Loan? <full story

Lending standards remain tight, and lenders have been picky even with the best-qualified borrowers. If you’re buying or refinancing the mortgage on your primary home, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% for a conforming loan or 10% to 15% for a conforming jumbo loan. With 20% or more down, you avoid private mortgage insurance, which typically costs 0.5% to 1.5% of your loan amount per year. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which set the standards for mortgages they buy from lenders, require a minimum credit score of 620; you’ll get the best rate if your score exceeds 720. The Federal Housing Administration requires a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify with a down payment of 3.5%, but FHA lenders often impose a higher minimum score of 670. (If you apply with a spouse, lenders will probably base your rate on the lower of your scores.)

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