Being a first-time home buyer comes with its fair share of challenges. Not only do you have to figure out how to navigate the complexities of the home buying process, but you also must do so while competing against other buyers who are just as hungry to become homeowners.
Roughly 31% of all home buyers are first-time buyers, many of whom are looking to simply transition from renting to owning. But one of the biggest struggles buyers currently face when purchasing a home for the first time is qualifying for financing.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 87% of recent buyers finance their home purchase, making financing an important step in the overall home buying process.1.
Luckily, qualifying for a new mortgage now has become a bit easier for first-time homebuyers thanks to new criteria that allows you to use positive rental payment history from renting towards the credit decision when getting approved for a new mortgage.
How Does it Work?
Using your positive rental history to qualify for a new mortgage is straightforward and requires little work as a borrower. For your lender, it’s as easy as obtaining a standard verification report.
The trick is that you must have a minimum 12-month history of making your recurring rent payment from a standard deposit account (i.e., checking, savings, money market) and the amount of your rent is $300 or more a month2.
Your lender will need to obtain a standard verification of asset (VOA) report that will pull data directly from your bank statement2.
In some cases, you might receive a text message or email from the report supplier asking you to log in to a secure portal to specify which bank accounts may be used to generate the report. Make sure you choose the accounts from which your rent is paid.
Keep in mind that you do not have to pay your rent in a specific way in order to leverage your positive payment history.
For example, it doesn’t matter if you make your rent payments via a physical check, electronically directly to your landlord, or through another digital payment solution (i.e., Zelle, PayPal, Venmo)2.
Additionally, your positive rental payment history doesn’t isn’t restricted to making one lump sum payment each month (although it’s often easier). This new guidance allows for the flexibility of you making split rent payments in a given month2.
Once the data is received, if the information captured meets the eligibility requirements it will automatically be factored in and enhance the credit decision for your mortgage application. The process does not have any adverse impact on your credit and credit data will not be shared with credit reporting agencies2.
Who Can Qualify?
Unfortunately, not all borrowers can qualify to use positive rental payment history to enhance the likelihood of their mortgage application being approved. You must meet certain eligibility criteria in order to qualify.
The first requirement is that you must be considered a first-time homebuyer2. This means you cannot have owned any residential property, either individually or jointly with another person, within the past three years2.
The overarching goal of account for positive rental payment history is to help create new homeownership opportunities for borrowers with less than pristine credit by removing systemic barriers that might prevent them from otherwise obtaining mortgage financing.
Another stipulation is that you must have a minimum 12-month rental history and your rent must be more than $300 a month2. You also must be purchasing a new home that you intend to occupy as your primary residence2.
Lastly, a caveat to qualifying use of your positive rental payment history is that you have a minimum FICO credit score of at least 6202. Fortunately, the average FICO credit score for most Americans is approximately 7163.
First-time home buyers are now getting added enhancements when it comes to qualifying for a new mortgage. You can now use your positive rental payment history as a way to help you qualify for financing.
This new policy leverages intuitive underwriting software to help analyze verification of asset reports to identify positive trends in your rental payment history and incorporate that into the overall credit decision.
In order to take advantage of these new flexibilities, not only must you be a first-time homebuyer, but you must also have a minimum rental history of 12-month, be purchasing and intend to occupy a new primary residence and meet minimum credit score requirements.
While being a first-time homebuyer can be challenging, having the added flexibility to use positive rental history for mortgage eligibility helps to remove one obstacle in your path toward homeownership.
1 National Association of Realtors. (2021, March 16). Highlights From the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
2 Fannie Mae. (2021, October 04). FAQs: Positive Rent Payment History in Desktop Underwriter. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://singlefamily.fanniemae.com/originating-underwriting/faqs-positive-rent-payment-history-desktop-underwriter
3 Dornhelm, E. (2021, August 17). Average U.S. FICO® Score at 716, Indicating Improvement in Consumer Credit Behaviors Despite Pandemic. Retrieved October 18, 2021, from https://www.fico.com/blogs/average-us-ficor-score-716-indicating-improvement-consumer-credit-behaviors-despite-pandemic