9 Best Bad Credit Mortgage Lenders (Dec. 2023)

Best Bad Credit Mortgage Lenders

When mortgage rates are high, and your credit score is low, buying a home requires all the help you can get. Mortgage lenders understand that dynamic and have two choices: They can shut their doors and wait for interest rates to drop or pursue new lending opportunities by finding ways to accommodate prime and subprime homebuyers.

We’ve compiled a group of mortgage lenders that help people who have subprime credit. In good times and bad, they continue to offer loans to prospective homebuyers who have less-than-perfect credit. Keep reading to learn about the mortgage options available to you — even if you have a shaky credit history.

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Best Bad Credit Conventional Mortgage Lenders

The following companies are a mix of direct and network mortgage lenders that welcome applicants of every credit type. If you’re looking for a conventional mortgage, these lenders should be on your list.

  • America’s largest mortgage lender
  • The entire process is completed online
  • Options for new mortgages and refinancing existing mortgages
  • Award-winning customer service and cutting-edge digital platforms
  • More than 90% of clients would recommend us
  • See application, terms, and details


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 1985 5 minutes 9.5/10

Rocket Mortgage is America’s largest direct mortgage lender. If you’re a prospective homebuyer, Rocket Mortgage may be the best lender for directly financing a home purchase, even if your credit is poor or limited.

Rocket Mortgage lets you lock in today’s rate for 90 days through its RateShield® program. The mortgage lender can help you pay for your down payment and closing costs, even if your credit score is as low as 620. The Rocket Mortgage website is also full of educational articles about homebuying. 

  • Best for cash-out refinance
  • Utilize your home equity with America’s #1 lender
  • eClosing allows customers to close electronically, greatly speeding the process
  • A+ rating with the BBB
  • Receive cash for home improvements, college tuition, or paying off debt
  • 24/7 access to your loan through the Rocket Mortgage app
  • See application, terms, and details


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 1985 5 minutes 9.5/10

Quicken Loans is another name for Rocket Mortgage. Its loan experts will dive deep and find the best possible rate and loan solution to help you purchase a home. JD Power has awarded the company more times than any other brand.

Its website features in-depth articles devoted to homebuyer education and easy-to-use tools to help you gather application information. The site’s helpful resources include a payment calculator, homebuyer’s guide, and today’s mortgage rates.

  • Get today’s mortgage rates from the top mortgage lenders and banks
  • Easily compare and choose mortgage lenders with no obligations or fees
  • Review current mortgage rates side by side
  • Pick mortgage lenders that meet your specific needs
  • Compare rates from pre-qualified and approved mortgage lenders — 100% online, 100% free
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 1979 4 minutes 8.5/10

Our pick for the best mortgage lender is eMortgage, a well-regarded loan-finding network. Rather than lending directly to borrowers, the company works with a network of mortgage lenders that can offer you multiple loan options.

You can receive competing quotes for a poor credit mortgage by analyzing a few data items, including the loan amount, state, and your credit rating. eMortgage uses 256-bit encryption to ensure the security of your confidential information.

  • Options for home purchase or refinance
  • Get 4 free refinance quotes in 30 seconds
  • Network of lenders compete for your loan
  • Trusted by 2 million+ home loan borrowers to date
  • Interest rates are near all-time lows
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 2004 4 minutes 8.5/10

FHA Rate Guide is not part of the Federal Housing Administration. It is an online service that provides editorial content and directory information about mortgages and other installment loans. You can use the FHA Rate Guide to pursue offers from all types of mortgage lenders, not just FHA affiliates.

FHA Rate Guide employs a third-party platform, SecureRights, to verify consumer information and shield your privacy.

  • Loan programs include down payment and closing cost assistance.
  • Variable and Fixed-Rate loans available with flexible qualification guidelines.
  • Up to 100% financing—with as little as zero down payment for qualified borrowers.
  • No maximum income/earning limitations.
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 2008 5 Minutes 7.0/10

You can prequalify for a Bank Of America Mortgage loan without commitment or cost. Its Digital Mortgage Experience uses an online dialogue to guide you through the application process efficiently.

You can prequalify for a mortgage by submitting a loan request form. Prospective homebuyers can use the platform’s Real Estate Center to search for properties on sale. After the prequalification stage, you can provide additional information to gain final approval for a mortgage you can afford.

  • Low or no down payment required; flexible credit guidelines.
  • Seller can contribute up to 6% of sales price.
  • Streamlined refinance programs that speed the closing process.
  • Closing costs can be rolled into the loan.
  • Opportunities Within Neighborhoods (OWN) programs offer low down payment options, flexible credit criteria and other attractive features to meet the needs of many low- and moderate- income borrowers and those purchasing homes in low- and moderate – income areas.
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 1998 9 Minutes 8.0/10

CitiMortgage lets you prequalify for a mortgage before submitting a formal application. Citi offers special mortgage deals that can provide you with a closing cost credit or interest rate reductions.

The bank offers many mortgage options with fixed or adjustable rates. Citi’s Lender Paid Assistance Program can also reduce the closing costs of eligible buyers by $5,000.

Government-Backed Mortgage Lenders

Several agencies within the US government assist homebuyers by guaranteeing payments to private lenders when borrowers can’t pay their mortgage bills. These programs offer unique benefits to eligible homebuyers.

  • For military veterans, service members, their spouses, and other eligible beneficiaries only
  • No down payment and no monthly mortgage insurance
  • The basic entitlement available to each eligible veteran is $36,000
  • Lenders generally loan up to 4 times a veteran’s available entitlement without a down payment
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies by Applicant 1944 9 Minutes 7.5/10

The VA-Guaranteed Home Loan Program from the US Department of Veterans Affairs offers mortgages to military members and veterans. You can qualify by applying for the Department’s Certificate of Eligibility (COE). With a COE in hand, you can shop for guaranteed mortgages from VA-approved lenders.

The VA also offers direct home loans to Native Americans. Mortgages from VA loan programs have attractive features, including $0 down payments, fewer closing costs, and no prepayment penalties.

  • Offers 100% Financing, Low rates and Affordable Payments.
  • Helps lenders work with low and moderate income families living in rural areas to make home ownership a reality.
  • Loans can be used for repairs and rehabilitation; physical disability equipment; connection fees, assessments or installment costs for utilities; and essential household equipment.
  • Loans can include closing costs and reasonable/customary expenses associated with the purchase
  • See application, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
Varies 1897 9 Minutes 9.0/10

USDA Rural Housing Loans can help you purchase a single-family home in a rural area. To participate in its Guaranteed USDA Loan Program, you cannot have an income that exceeds 115% of the median household income of the rural area where the eligible house resides.

The US Department of Agriculture also offers a Direct Loan Program, which helps homebuyers with monthly mortgage payments. Eligibility rules require your income to be less than 80% of your region’s median household income. Direct installment loans may be available for those who don’t qualify for a USDA Guaranteed Loan Program.

9. FHA Home Loan

The Federal Housing Administration guarantees payments for eligible mortgages. FHA loans reduce the risks facing mortgage lenders who lend to subprime borrowers.

FHA logo

The government guarantee encourages lenders to ease their requirements for down payments and minimum credit scores.

You must have a credit score of 500 or higher to qualify for an FHA-backed mortgage, although lenders can set different score requirements.

You also need to make at least a small down payment on an FHA-insured home loan.

What Are the Different Types of Mortgages For Bad Credit?

Consumers who don’t have good credit may feel homeownership is beyond their reach, but several types of mortgages are available to individuals with adverse credit scores. Here is an overview of some options.

Conventional Mortgages

A conventional mortgage refers to a type of home loan not insured or guaranteed by the federal government. Instead, it is available through private lenders such as banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies. 

Conventional loans typically adhere to the standards set by government-sponsored entities (GSEs) such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These standards, which include the maximum loan amount, allow lenders to sell their conventional mortgages to a GSE that repackages pools of loans and sells shares to investors.

Conventional mortgages often have fixed terms, generally ranging from 10 to 30 years. Adjustable-rate mortgages are also available, and their mortgage rates can change over time.

Types of mortgages and example down payments

Borrowers typically make a down payment (often 20% of the home’s purchase price) to receive a conventional loan, but many lenders offer smaller down payments. Borrowers may need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) if their down payment is less than 20%.

Conventional mortgages are flexible, with various terms and options that allow you to choose one that suits your requirements. You can save money by putting down 20% and using a lender that doesn’t charge upfront funding fees. These loans often close faster than government-backed mortgages.

Conversely, some conventional mortgage lenders may reject subprime borrowers or charge a higher interest rate.

Government-Backed Mortgages

Government-backed mortgages are home loans that the federal government insures or guarantees. This insurance protects the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan, making these mortgages less risky. Reduced risk allows participating lenders to offer more favorable terms on a bad credit home loan.

We have reviewed the three major government-backed mortgage programs. While their details vary, each requires smaller down payments, accepts lower credit scores, and often charges less interest.

Government backed mortgages graphic

Some government-backed mortgages restrict property type or location. They also may impose loan limits and require mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs) when you put down less than 20%.

Government-backed mortgages can be a helpful solution for individuals who have trouble qualifying for a conventional mortgage due to credit issues or a lack of a large down payment.

Second Mortgages

Homeowners currently holding a primary mortgage may apply for a second mortgage based on the home equity they’ve built. Equity is the difference between a home’s current value and the balance on the first mortgage.

Lenders who offer second mortgages take a secondary lien on the property. If the borrower defaults on either mortgage, the primary lienholder (for the first mortgage) will get paid first following foreclosure. Only then will the secondary lender have access to the remaining funds, if any.

Potential home equity graphic

Sometimes, first and second mortgage lenders agree in advance to share the proceeds from a foreclosure. Second mortgages can take the form of a lump-sum home equity loan or a revolving home equity line of credit (HELOC). 

Compared to a first mortgage, a secondary mortgage typically charges a higher interest rate and has a shorter loan term. You can use the proceeds of a second mortgage for any purpose. As with primary mortgages, the interest you pay on a second mortgage may be tax-deductible. 

Refinancing Mortgages

A refinancing mortgage, or “refi,” involves taking out a new mortgage to replace an existing one. Homeowners may want to refinance their mortgage for several reasons, often to improve their financial situations.

A rate-and-term refi allows homeowners to reduce their mortgage interest rate, shorten the loan term, alter the monthly payments, or convert between a fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgage (depending on which is more favorable).

You may qualify for cash-out refinancing if you have equity in your home. This type of refi allows you to borrow more than the balance on your current mortgage and pocket the difference. You can use the cash for any purpose, similar to a personal loan. Some homeowners use it for renovation or debt consolidation.

More about refinancing your mortgage graphic

The opposite, cash-in refinancing, lets you pay down a portion of the mortgage balance to reduce the loan-to-value ratio, eliminate mortgage insurance, or get into a loan category that has lower interest rates.

Before refinancing your mortgage, consider the impact of closing costs, including fees for appraisal, origination, and processing. These charges may add 3% to 6% to the loan amount.

Also, consider how long it will take you to reach the break-even point (i.e. when the savings from the new mortgage outweigh the refinancing costs). The break-even point may be important if you aren’t sure how long you’ll stay in your current home.

Non-Qualifying Mortgage

A non-qualifying mortgage (non-QM) is a type of bad credit home loan that does not comply with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) existing rules on qualified mortgages (QMs) nor the standards in the Dodd-Frank Act.

The act ensures that lenders provide borrowers with enough information to make informed decisions and don’t offer loans borrowers can’t afford.

Non-QMs may verify income using alternative methods that make it easier for self-employed individuals to qualify. You can get a non-QM immediately after emerging from bankruptcy, whereas QMs usually have waiting periods of six months to two years.

Qualified versus non-qualified mortgages comparison graphic

Non-QM terms and conditions can vary widely. Some non-QMs charge interest only for a set period, after which the borrower must repay or refinance the loan. Real estate investors may use non-QMs to finance properties or for non-standard transactions.

While non-QMs are more accessible and flexible than QMs, they typically charge higher interest rates and more fees. 

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage allows homeowners, typically older adults, to borrow money against the equity in their homes. In a reverse mortgage, the lender makes payments to the borrower instead of the reverse.

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must be 62 or older and own the home outright or have substantial equity in it. The home must be your primary residence.

The most common type of reverse mortgage is a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). The FHA insures HECMs. A proprietary reverse mortgage is a private loan backed by companies that develop high-value homes. 

More about reverse mortgages graphic

Some state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations offer single-purpose reverse mortgages. The lender specifies how to use the mortgage (e.g., property taxes, home repairs).

You can receive reverse mortgage payments as a lump sum, regular monthly payments, a line of credit, or a combination of these options. Interest accrues and increases the loan balance over time.

The loan becomes due when you sell your home, move out of the property, or die. The lender usually sells the house to repay the loan, and any remaining equity goes to borrowers or their heirs.

The charges for a reverse mortgage may include origination fees, closing costs, servicing fees, and mortgage insurance premiums (for HECMs). The amount you can borrow depends on your age, the appraised value of the home, and current interest rates.

Reverse mortgages can supplement your income while relieving you from making monthly mortgage payments. But the loan charges interest and fees, reduces your home equity, and could adversely affect your eligibility for certain government benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

What Are The Easiest Mortgages To Get With Bad Credit?

Non-QMs and FHA loans are the easiest to access.

Borrowers can easily obtain non-QMs because of their more flexible and varied requirements compared to those of standard qualified mortgages (QMs). These requirements include the following:

  • Alternative documentation: Non-QM lenders often use alternative methods of proving income and financial stability, which helps self-employed individuals, freelancers, or those with non-traditional income sources. Even if you have trouble providing the standard proof of income and employment documentation for a QM loan, you may still qualify for a non-QM.
  • Higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios: You may qualify for non-QM even with higher debt levels relative to your income.
  • Flexible credit requirements: Non-QM loans frequently have more lenient credit score requirements. You may qualify for a non-QM loan despite a bad credit score or limited credit history.
  • Variety of loan structures: These non-traditional structures include interest-only loans, balloon payments, and other non-standard mortgage types.
  • Investment properties: You can use non-QMs for investment real estate transactions, including loans for properties you don’t occupy. 
  • Asset depletion loans: Some non-QMs are asset depletion mortgages, where the lender uses your assets to calculate your income eligibility. Wealthy individuals with significant assets but low income can use their assets to qualify for a mortgage.

The other easily obtained mortgage is an FHA loan. The reasons for its accessibility include the following:

  • Lower credit score requirements: Even if you don’t have good credit, you can still obtain financing, making homeownership more accessible.
  • Smaller down payments: FHA mortgage loans typically require a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price. This relaxed requirement can help you afford a home purchase if you haven’t saved a significant amount.
  • Flexible DTI ratios: You may be eligible for financing because FHA loans often have more lenient debt-to-income (DTI) requirements.
  • Assumable loans: FHA mortgage loans are assumable, meaning a future buyer can assume the loan at its current terms. This feature can make the property more attractive to future buyers, especially if interest rates rise.
  • Rate advantages: FHA loans can offer competitive interest rates, particularly for borrowers with lower credit scores.
  • Government backing: Federal guarantees reduce the risk to lenders, who may be more willing to approve your application.
  • Gift funds allowed: You can use gifts from family members or other sources to cover the down payment or closing costs, easing your financial burden if you don’t have substantial savings.
    Non-occupying co-borrowers allowed: Relatives or friends who won’t live in the home can cosign the loan. Cosigners boost your approval chances and may help you qualify for a larger loan.

Non-QMs and FHA loans increase the odds of qualifying for homeownership despite inferior credit. 

What Are the Differences Between Conventional and Conforming Mortgages?

The government does not insure or guarantee a conventional mortgage. Instead, private lenders back it, and the borrower pays for mortgage insurance. Conventional loans are common and can be either conforming or non-conforming.

A conforming mortgage adheres to the loan limits and underwriting standards Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae specify. Essentially, these are the maximum loan amounts GSEs will purchase.

Here is a chart to better outline the differences and similarities between the two types of mortgages.

DefinitionNot insured or guaranteed by the government; backed by private lenders Adheres to loan limits and standards set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
Backed ByPrivate lendersFreddie Mac and Fannie Mae
Loan LimitsCan be above Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limitsMust be within Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac limits
Government Involvement NoneMust adhere to government-sponsored enterprise standards
Interest RatesCan vary, potentially higherTypically lower interest rates
Minimum Credit Score May have more flexible credit requirements Typically stricter credit requirements
Down PaymentCan be higherLower down payments
Mortgage InsuranceUsually required for down payments below 20%May or may not be required 
Loan TypesCan be either fixed-rate or adjustable-rateUsually fixed-rate mortgage
Property TypesMore flexible, can finance various property typesTypically primary residences only

It’s a good idea to consult a mortgage advisor or financial professional to discuss your options and determine the best mortgage for your financial circumstances.

How Do I Apply For a Bad Credit Mortgage?

You can apply for a conventional loan directly through a lender, including the ones we’ve reviewed. 

To apply for a government-backed mortgage, contact the federal agency (VA, USDA, or FHA) and complete its paperwork. You can then apply to an agency-approved lender (typically a bank or credit union such as Navy Federal Credit Union) to finish the process. 

Be prepared to share plenty of information with the bank or credit union about yourself, your finances, income, and debt. The lender will pull your credit report and score from each credit bureau and use your middle score to determine your loan terms.

For example, if you have a 645 Experian FICO Score, a 620 TransUnion FICO Score, and a 659 Equifax FICO Score, the lender will pick the 645 score.

The application process typically requires you to make a down payment and schedule visits from a home appraiser and termite inspector.

How Much Mortgage Can I Afford?

The maximum mortgage you can afford depends on several factors, including the following:

  • Income: Consider your total income from all available sources before and after taxes. Include your spouse’s or co-borrower’s income if appropriate. You can also include alimony and annuity income.
  • Current obligations: Include vehicle loans, student loans, housing costs, credit card debt, alimony, child support, garnishments, and other commitments. Don’t forget to account for property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association (HOA) fees, and maintenance costs. According to the 28/36 Rule, your mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income, and your total debt payments should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. The FHA allows percentages up to 43%.
  • Credit history: An inferior credit history may saddle you with high interest rates and limit the amount you can borrow.
  • Down payment: A larger down payment reduces the size of your mortgage and monthly payments, making the home more affordable. Remember to include insurance and taxes when estimating your monthly obligations.
  • Property value: A property’s loan-to-value (LTV) ratio limits the home loan size. Typical acceptable LTVs range from 85% to 100%. High LTVs result in less affordable monthly payments.

Let’s look at an example calculation. Suppose you have the following financial profile:

  • Gross monthly income: $5,000
  • Total monthly debt payments: $500
  • Down payment: $40,000
  • Estimated property taxes and insurance: $300/month
  • Loan term: 30 years
  • Interest rate: 4%

Using the 28/36 Rule, the maximum mortgage payment (28% of $5,000 income) is $1,400. The maximum allowable debt payments (36% of $5,000 income) is $1,800.

Since your other debt payments are $500, you have $1,300 available for a mortgage payment.

If you subtract estimated taxes and insurance ($300) from this amount, you have $1,000 left for your monthly principal and interest payment. 

You can use an online mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly mortgage payment based on current home prices, down payment amounts, interest rates, and loan terms.

What’s the Minimum Credit Score Lenders Will Accept?

Mortgage lenders usually require a FICO Score of 620 or higher. The minimum FICO Score for a government-backed mortgage is 580. But you can get an FHA home loan with a bad credit score as low as 500 if you can put down at least 10%. 

FICO score graphic
Many lenders require a FICO score of 620 or higher, but FHA loans are available to prospective homeowners who have much lower scores.

Some lenders, including the ones reviewed above, may consider other ways to qualify you for a mortgage despite a bad credit score (i.e., below 500), but it’s no picnic: You’ll have to demonstrate a low DTI ratio and make a sizable down payment.

What Happens If I Can’t Repay My Mortgage?

Discovering that you can’t pay your mortgage can be traumatic, but don’t let it paralyze you into inaction. Instead, take control by reaching out for help. Discuss your situation with your lender as soon as you anticipate trouble affording payments. It may have options to assist you.

You can also speak to a HUD-approved housing counselor who can help you understand your options and work with your lender. Consult an attorney to discuss your legal rights and options if you’re considering bankruptcy or facing foreclosure.

You need to review your finances and consider all options, including the potential long-term impact of each choice. Addressing the issue without delay will give you more alternatives and a better chance of finding a favorable resolution.

That said, missing mortgage payments and the most likely consequences are dire. Here are four scenarios you may encounter, in ascending order of horror.

Loan Modifications

A lender may be willing to modify your loan if your financial problems are not your fault or beyond your control. Ask the lender to reduce your monthly payment and/or mortgage rate to make your loan more affordable.

A loan modification may allow you to keep your home and is less damaging to your credit score than foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, the process can be lengthy and challenging, and ultimately, your lender may not agree to modify your loan.

Short Sale

In a short sale, you sell your home for less than your mortgage balance (with your lender’s approval). The lender may agree to forgive some of your debt rather than face the more costly and time-consuming alternatives.

Make no mistake: A short sale will cause you to lose your home. But it gives you some control over the home-selling process and may be less damaging to your credit score than foreclosure.


Foreclosure is a legal process that allows a lender to recover the amount you owe on a defaulted mortgage by selling or taking ownership of your home. The foreclosure process begins when you fail to make mortgage payments to the lender, causing the loan to default.

The only good thing about a foreclosure is that you may be able to live in your home payment-free until the foreclosure process is complete. Eventually, the lender will evict you, and you may be liable for the difference between the eventual sale price and the unpaid mortgage balance.

Naturally, your credit score will suffer significantly from a foreclosure, and it will be harder to qualify for credit or a mortgage in the future.


Bankruptcy provides legal protection from creditors, although mortgage lenders and other secured creditors may be unaffected. If you enter Chapter 13 bankruptcy and become current with your mortgage debt, the lender may allow you to keep your home.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court liquidates most of your assets and wipes out your unsecured debt. You will likely lose your home through foreclosure when you enter Chapter 7. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 10 years, whereas Chapter 13 hangs around for only seven years (the same as foreclosure). You would think bankruptcy would inflict the greatest harm to your credit score, but by the time you file with the court, most of the damage has probably occurred.

Choose a Bad Credit Mortgage Lender Suited to Your Needs

Our reviews of bad credit mortgage sources show that you have options when you want to buy a home, even if you have had significant financial problems in the past. Some direct and network lenders welcome subprime lenders and will work hard to get you a mortgage you can afford.

Consider a non-qualified mortgage if you can’t land any other type of loan. Before embarking on any long-term financial plan, please speak to an expert who can explain all the pros and cons.

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