If your credit is less than perfect, you may think that home ownership is just a dream. But, actually, it’s possible to get a mortgage loan even if you have a low credit score. You’ll have to make a few trade-offs, but you can get approved for a mortgage loan–even with poor credit–if you:

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Choose a “special” loan

Certain mortgage loans–like FHA loans or VA loans–are specifically designed to help Americans achieve the dream of home ownership. Because of this, they have lower down payment requirements and more lenient criteria for approval, so even those with a shaky credit history can obtain one of these loans. You’ll have to meet certain criteria–such as Veteran status or income restrictions–and you may have to pay a little extra on your interest and fees, too. Most mortgage lenders will be able to help you find one of these loans.

Save a bigger down payment

In general, the more you borrow, the higher risk you are to the lender. So if you have poor credit, it’s a smart idea to save as much as possible for your down payment, even if this means waiting a few years to buy a home. If, for example, you want to buy a $150,000 home and you only have $10,000 as a down payment, you’ll need to borrow a whopping $140,000 from your lender! But if you have $50,000 as a down payment, you’ll only need to borrow $100,000. From a lender’s point of view, that larger down payment makes you a more attractive borrower, which means you’re more likely to get approved for the mortgage loan.

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Get special help

Many states, localities and other organizations have programs designed for “special needs” borrowers. These programs can help you qualify for a mortgage even if your credit isn’t great or your down payment isn’t big. The programs vary: some are like grants, which tack extra money onto your down payment, whereas others are actual mortgage lenders. Search the Internet to find mortgage assistance programs in your area.

Don’t let a poor credit history stop your dream of owning your own home. There are plenty of options available for a mortgage loan if you’re willing to do a little research.

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