Traditional Vs. Non-Traditional Credit

Understanding Traditional vs. Non-Traditional Credit:

Most people know that your credit history plays a big role in the approval process when it comes to applying for a mortgage. Wether you are refinancing a current mortgage or purchasing a home, the mortgage lender will review your credit history. There are two broad types of credit that lenders will consider when underwriting a new mortgage application:

  • Traditional credit history
  • Non-traditional credit history

Up until recently most mortgage lenders only considered “traditional” credit history when evaluating a mortgage application however that has changed in recent years. Some people pay all their bills on time however they don’t have a car loan or a credit card so their payment history is n0t accurately reflected on their credit report.

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How Traditional Credit Applies to Your Mortgage:

When you apply for a mortgage you complete a loan application (among mortgage professionals it’s commonly referred to as 1003 – “ten-0-three”) and turn in the required documentation to the loan officer you’re working with. The loan officer than obtains your credit report from the three main credit bureaus. Each credit bureau issues a credit score; a three-digit number that gives a numeric value to your credit history.

The Three Main Credit Bureaus:

The three main credit bureau’s are:

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • Trans-Union

Each credit bureau has their own scoring model when it comes to evaluating credit history. Missed payments, high debt and derogatory public records, like a bankruptcy, can all lower the score issued by one of the three bureaus. When applying for a mortgage using traditional credit you generally only need to obtain the scores from two of the three bureaus. If you have your credit report “frozen” by the three bureau’s then you’ll want to make sure you “un-freeze” it before you complete your mortgage application.

Traditional Credit Score Ranges:

Here are the ranges of credit scores most mortgage lenders use. As a general rule of thumb; lower the range the higher the rate:

  • 740+
  • 720 – 739
  • 700 – 719
  • 680 – 699
  • 660 – 679
  • 640 – 659
  • 620 – 639
  • 600 – 619
  • 580 – 599

There are some lenders willing to go below a 580 credit score and generally speaking the rates associated with a sub 580 credit score are usually the same. In fact many lenders turn down borrower’s if they have a sub 620 credit score due to the higher risks associated with lending to someone with a sub 620 credit score.


How Non-Traditional Credit Applies To Your Mortgage:

If you or someone on your credit application does not have a “traditional” credit history then a lender will use “non-traditional” credit to evaluate their payment history. Since there is no credit score the lender typically has to use four types of payment history to establish a credit history that will satisfy underwriting guidelines. This would include the following:

  • Rental payment history
  • Renter’s insurance
  • Utilities such as water, gas, telephone etc.
  • Medical bills
  • Life Insurance
  • Child care…and more

When using “non-traditional” credit to underwrite a loan application one must be a bit more conservative with their calculations. Typically the income and debt requirements are a bit more restrictive for those with “non-traditional” (aka NTC) credit compared to those with a traditional credit history. Also not all loan programs are available to those with NTC. Some lenders will require a higher down payment and others may not allow for a cash out refinance.

Can you obtain a low rate mortgage with NTC?:

Absolutely; in fact many times it’s the same interest rate for an application based on “traditional” credit. However as mentioned above; there are certain restrictions for those with NTC. Not all lenders offer mortgage loans to those with “non-traditional” credit so be sure to ask your loan officer up-front if they provide loans to those with a NTC history.

Loan Officer Kevin OConnor

Loan Officer Kevin O’Connor:

Kevin grew up in California and works with clients throughout the state. From the initial quote to the application to the final closing; Kevin works directly with each and every homeowner and encourages his clients to ask questions so that they’re better informed. He updates on daily basis and you can connect with him on social media: Twitter Rates01