Credit Rating

How important is your credit score in real estate?

Having a good quality credit score is one of the most valuable assets you, as a real estate investor, can have. The authority this resource has will not only retain attractive mortgage and refinancing rates but amplify your negotiating power when seeking a loan. It’s also important to note that a lower score will not automatically disqualify potential investors, but it could hinder your ability to access certain loan programs.

Key Takeaways:

  • A good credit score is essential for real estate investors.
  • A high-quality credit score can help you access attractive mortgage and refinancing rates.
  • A good credit score can also increase your negotiating power when seeking a loan.
  • It’s possible to still obtain loans with a lower credit score, but it may restrict access to certain loan programs.
aerial view of home roofs in residential rural nei


A credit score is crucial in the context of the home-buying process. It’s a number that can impact everything from the size of a mortgage payment to the interest rate on a home loan.

When you have sub-optimal credit, you may be faced with financial barriers to owning your own home or property, scuppering your dreams of owning that property you’ve had your eye on.

But, there’s a silver lining for those with bad credit. There are several ways to invest in real estate without using your budget.

Now, the question on everyone’s mind: how important is your credit score in real estate? Exceptional credit equates to better deals and its importance shouldn’t be understated. With better deals, you can use this as a money-saving tactic — which, in turn, provides multiple options to finance real estate and navigate the mortgage lending process.


It’s important to understand how a credit score is compiled and what factors affect it.

A credit score is a number based on your credit report, which contains information about how you’ve paid the debt you’ve had, as well as your age and employment status.


  • Low score – between 300 and 579
  • Fair score – between 580 and 669
  • Good score – anything above 700

In the eyes of a lender, your credit score is crucial because it helps them ascertain what risk you pose to them. They have statistical data they can lean on to determine the likelihood a person will pay back the money they have borrowed. The higher your credit score, the healthier it is, which means you’re more likely to be approved for a credit application. This will leave you in a position where you’re more likely to get a preferential interest rate at which to pay it back.

But be careful. Even if you have a good credit score, a high level of debt can negatively affect your credit risk. This debt-to-income ratio is one other factor that credit providers will look out for.

Factors Influencing Credit Scores

Several key factors influence the determination of a credit score, each carrying its weight. Payment history, which reflects whether you pay your bills on time, is the most significant factor, accounting for 35% of your credit score. 

Credit utilization, or the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limits, is another critical factor, making up 30% of the score. This highlights the importance of maintaining low balances relative to your total credit limit. 

Length of credit history, which showcases how long you have held credit accounts, contributes 15% to the score, suggesting that a longer credit history can positively affect your score. 

Types of credit in use, indicating the mix of account types you have, such as credit cards, instalment loans, and mortgage loans, account for 10%. 

Lastly, new credit, which includes the number of new accounts you have recently opened as well as the number of hard inquiries lenders make when you apply for credit, also represents 10% of your score. Understanding these factors is crucial for real estate investors aiming to optimize their credit scores for better financing options.

Different Credit Scoring Models

While the concept of a credit score is universal, it’s crucial to understand that there are different models used to calculate it, each with its unique formula. FICO and VantageScore are the two primary scoring models, but credit bureaus such as Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian also have proprietary models.

  • FICO Score: The most widely known credit score model, FICO Scores are used by over 90% of top lenders and range between 300 and 850. Factors influencing this score include payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit in use.
  • VantageScore: Developed as a joint venture by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), VantageScore also ranges from 300 to 850. While similar factors influence this score, VantageScore places a greater emphasis on recent credit behaviour and patterns over time.
  • Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Scores: Each credit bureau has developed its scoring model. Though they also consider similar factors, the algorithms and the weights assigned to each factor can vary, leading to potentially different scores across these bureaus.

Real estate investors need to be aware of these differences, as lenders may use scores from different models or bureaus when evaluating credit applications. Knowing which score a lender uses can help you better understand your chances of approval and secure the best possible terms on loans.

Contract for purchase or rental of a house with calculator on table

Financing Options for Investors with Bad Credit

Now that we’ve established the importance of credit scores in real estate, let’s explore some financing options for investors with less-than-ideal credit.

  • FHA Loans: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans are available to individuals with credit scores as low as 500. However, borrowers with lower scores may be subject to higher down payment requirements and interest rates.
  • Hard Money Loans: These are short-term, high-interest rate loans available from private lenders who focus on the value of the property rather than the borrower’s credit score.
  • Seller Financing: In this arrangement, the seller of a property acts as the lender and provides financing directly to the buyer. This option may be ideal for investors with poor credit scores but strong relationships with sellers.
  • Private Money Loans:  Similar to hard money loans, private money loans are provided by individuals or groups rather than traditional lenders and use the property as collateral. While credit scores may still be considered, they are not the only determining factor in loan approval.
  • Subprime Mortgages:  These are loans available to individuals with credit scores below 600 but often come with higher interest rates and fees.

While these options may be accessible for investors with bad credit, it’s essential to note that they may also come with higher costs and less favourable terms. Therefore, investors must work on improving their credit scores over time to access more competitive financing options in the future.

Risks and challenges associated with each option

  • FHA Loans: Borrowers with lower credit scores may face higher interest rates and stricter borrowing limits.
  • Hard Money Loans: High interest rates, short repayment periods, and the potential for foreclosure make hard money loans a risky option.
  • Seller Financing: The seller may have specific requirements or conditions in place, and the buyer must carefully review the terms of the financing agreement.
  • Private Money Loans: Investors should thoroughly research potential lenders to ensure they are reputable and have clear terms for the loan.
  • Subprime Mortgages: High-interest rates and fees, coupled with the risk of foreclosure, make subprime mortgages a risky option for investors.

It’s crucial for investors to carefully consider these risks and challenges before choosing any financing option. Ultimately, the key is for investors to actively work towards improving their credit scores and maintaining healthy financial habits to access more favourable financing options in the long term.

Legal and regulatory considerations for each financing option:

  • FHA Loans: As these loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, they must adhere to specific regulations and guidelines set by the government.
  • Hard Money Loans: Private lenders offering hard money loans may have their terms and conditions, but they must still comply with state and federal lending laws.
  • Seller Financing: The seller must follow all applicable laws and regulations concerning lending, and the buyer must also comply with any legal requirements for obtaining financing.
  • Private Money Loans: Private lenders must follow state and federal laws regarding lending practices, interest rates, and fees.
  • Subprime Mortgages: Lenders offering subprime mortgages may be subject to additional regulations due to their higher-risk nature.

Investors must ensure they are complying with all legal and regulatory requirements when obtaining financing. Additionally, investors must also carefully review the terms and conditions of any loan agreement to avoid potential legal issues in the future.

Improving Your Credit Score

While these financing options can provide solutions for investors with bad credit, it’s important to note that they often come with higher costs and more stringent terms. As such, it’s always advisable to work towards improving your credit score. Here are some ways to do so:
  • Paying your bills on time is the most crucial factor affecting your credit score. Make sure you pay all your bills on time, including rent, utility payments, and credit card bills.
  • Keep low balances: Credit utilization plays a significant role in your score, so try to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limit.
  • Monitor your credit report: Regularly checking your credit report can help you identify and dispute any errors or fraudulent activity that may be affecting your score.
  • Pay off debts strategically: If you have multiple debts, prioritise paying off the ones with the highest interest rates first. This will not only improve your credit score but also save you money in the long run.
  • Avoid opening new accounts unnecessarily: Each time you apply for credit, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can negatively impact your score. Be mindful of this and limit unnecessary credit applications.
By understanding the factors that influence credit scores, being aware of different scoring models, and actively working to improve their scores, real estate investors can pave the way for better financing options and ultimately achieve their investment goals.  So keep these tips in mind as you continue on your journey as a real estate investor and don’t let bad credit hold you back from achieving success.  Don’t miss the opportunity to take control of your financial future! Get your FREE credit check with Experian today. Understand where you stand and take the first step towards improving your credit score for better investment opportunities. Your home buying journey begins well before you start actively searching for real estate. A credit score, which significantly impacts the home financing process, is built on good spending habits and a pattern of responsible borrowing established over a lifetime. As a real estate investor, the first step is to pull your credit report and evaluate where you stand. If you have a less-than-favorable credit score, it’s important to realize you can always improve. The next step is understanding how to move forward with bad credit. At MMR Property, we are committed to making your real estate dreams a success and helping you find your new home. Contact us today and get the best advice on property developments in your area. We look forward to hearing from you. Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is for educational purposes only and should not be considered financial or legal advice. It is always recommended to consult with a professional before making any financial decisions.  Best of luck on your real estate journey!


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Sales Office:
Unit 3 Bellfour Office Park, Cnr Edmar & Rodger Str, Bellville, 7600


+27 (0)21 979 3918


Jason Green


Clorinda Venter

Sales Contact for Thatchfield



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