You cannot combine credit scores to a buy a house. The banks do not operate that way. If one partner has a problem with their history, then you should take time to repair it before you buy a house. 

  • You cannot buy a house with combined credit 
  • The lower middle score is how a bank determines a married couple’s credit 

It is a straightforward process, and it is obvious when you examine the bureaus’ numbers. It is set up, though, to protect the lender from risk. 

Can you buy a house with combined credit? 

Chase makes it clear that you cannot buy a house with combined credit. Banks Look at the scores from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. For each borrower they consider the middle score. From there they take the lower middle score of the two people, and they use that to determine the interest rate.  

As an example, let us say you have three credit scores of 730, 722, and 716. Your partner has 696, 685, and 682. Your lender will consider the score, 685, when they determine your interest rate. This directly affects how much you pay each month.  

What credit score does a married couple need to buy a house? 

What credit score you need as a married couple depends on the type of loan. The balance shows that government backed loans have different requirements than conventional loans, but each has a minimum standard: 

  • Conventional loans require 620 – 640 depending on the program and lender 
  • FHA loans have a minimum of 500, but the average of the two borrowers must be at least 680 
  • USDA loans require 580, but they prefer at least 640 
  • VA loans do not have a minimum requirement 

Each of these targets a different type of borrower. It is important to examine all your options with your lender, so that you qualify and get the best rate possible. 

Whose credit score is used on a joint mortgage 

Banks use the lower borrower’s score to qualify and set the interest rate. This is consistent throughout the banking industry. If you do have poor credit, the best thing to do is work on improving your credit. Some ways to do this are: 

  • Pay down debts 
  • Resolve collections 
  • Do not open new loans 
  • Pay your bills on time 

These can improve scores quicker than you might think. The bottom line, though, is that there is no quick fix. 

How is a married couple’s credit score calculated? 

There is no formula that a bank uses to calculate the credit score for a married couple because they never combine them. The lender simply uses the lower borrower’s median score. Mortgage companies call this the lower middle score. This may seem confusing and even unfair since they do combine other factors, such as income and assets. However, mortgage companies do this to lower their risk. There is a direct link between credit and interest, so lower scores mean more risk and higher rates. 

Final Thoughts on Can You combine Credit Scores to Buy a House 

The lower middle score is a standard banks use to determine a couple’s qualification and interest rate for a mortgage. There is no complicated formula or tricky process. They simply take the scores from the three bureaus for each person, find the median, or middle score, of the three. Then they use the lower. 

This may seem unfair, but they do this to minimize their own risk. If you have widely different scores, you should investigate ways to improve your partner’s bad credit. It may be worth it to wait, fix the problem, and then get much better terms from a lender.