What credit score do you need to buy a house? It depends on a lot of different factors, but typically higher credit scores make you more likely to qualify for a mortgage and could result in more favorable loan terms.
Though lenders all have different standards, Credit Karma’s member data reveals that people with mortgages tend to have higher credit scores than the average person — meaning that better scores might increase your chance of qualifying for a mortgage.
Using data from Aug. 13, 2022, we determined that the average VantageScore 3.0 credit score for the 29 million Credit Karma members with mortgages was 705 — a decrease from 717 in 2020. (Click here for the full methodology.) Note: Credit score refers to the VantageScore 3.0 model throughout this article, unless otherwise noted.
- Overview of credit scores and mortgages for all Credit Karma members with a mortgage
- Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by state
- Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by city
- Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by generation
- Average mortgage balance of Credit Karma members by credit score
- FAQs: Credit scores for mortgages and cost of real estate
Credit Karma Stat Snapshot
Average credit score of Credit Karma members with mortgages:
State with highest average credit score for Credit Karma members with a mortgage:
City with highest average credit score for Credit Karma members with a mortgage:
Generation with highest average credit score for Credit Karma members with a mortgage:
Average mortgage balance among Credit Karma members:
Overview of credit scores and mortgages for all Credit Karma members with a mortgage
As of Aug. 13, 2022, there were more than 29 million Credit Karma members with mortgages. Among this set, the average VantageScore 3.0 credit score is 705 and the median is 725. Users had an average mortgage balance of $231,194, with an average next monthly payment of $1,632.
In 2020, the average score for this group was 717. This might indicate a general decline of credit health across all consumers over the last two years.
Looking for more info on mortgage debt in the United States? Check out our article on average mortgage debt in America.
Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by state
Here are the top five states with the highest average credit scores among Credit Karma mortgage-holders.
- Oregon – 726
- Hawaii – 723
- New Hampshire – 723
- Washington – 723
- California – 722
These are the five states with the lowest average credit scores among Credit Karma mortgage-holders.
- Arkansas – 671
- Mississippi – 674
- Louisiana – 676
- South Carolina – 682
- Texas – 685
Now check out where the highest average mortgage balances can be found.
- Washington, D.C. – $452,712
- California – $427,781
- Hawaii – $416,906
- Washington – $339,227
- Massachusetts – $311,559
And these are the states with lowest average mortgage balances.
- West Virginia – $132,334
- Mississippi – $141,487
- Arkansas – $147,056
- Kentucky – $150,252
- Iowa – $150,631
There’s some overlap between higher credit scores and higher average mortgage balances and vice versa. This could potentially be because there might be a higher bar to qualify for mortgages when the loans are much larger.
Below, you can see the average TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders in each state (plus Washington, D.C.).
|State||Number of Credit Karma members with an open mortgage||Average credit score||Median credit score||Average mortgage balance|
Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by city
This study considered the top 100 cities by population in the United States according to the 2021 U.S. Census city population estimates.
California had an unusually high concentration of cities with Credit Karma mortgage-holders who have higher average credit scores. Texas, on the other hand, has a lot of cities with homeowners who have lower average credit scores.
Cities where Credit Karma mortgage-holders have the highest average credit scores
|City||Average credit score||Average mortgage balance|
|1. San Francisco||760||$763,123|
|3. Irvine, Calif.||748||$595,821|
|4. San Jose, Calif.||745||$620,008|
|5. Fremont, Calif.||738||$508,521|
|6. Scottsdale, Ariz.||738||$397,245|
|9. New York||734||$615,856|
|10. San Diego||734||$481,358|
Cities where Credit Karma mortgage-holders have the lowest average credit scores
|City||Average credit score||Average mortgage balance|
|3. Laredo, Texas||657||$159,308|
|4. Corpus Christi, Texas||667||$173,332|
|6. New Orleans||671||$239,585|
|8. Baton Rouge, La.||674||$196,348|
|10. Fort Worth, Texas||682||$210,273|
For cities, there’s a significant strong, positive correlation between the average mortgage balance and credit score, indicating that credit scores have some predictive measure of mortgage balances. As credit scores increase, so too do mortgage balances.
Average credit score of Credit Karma mortgage-holders by generation
Older generations tend to have higher credit scores, likely because they’ve had more time to work on their credit.
Among Credit Karma members with mortgages, baby boomers has the highest average credit score at 724. Gen Z has the lowest average at 670.
Millennials and Gen Xers are set apart because they have higher average mortgage balances compared to other generations.
The table below summarizes generational differences among Credit Karma members with mortgages.
|Generation||Average credit score||Average mortgage balance|
Average mortgage balance of Credit Karma members by credit score
So does having a better credit score mean you’ll have a bigger mortgage? Credit Karma’s data suggests that it does. Check out the table below.
|Score type||Score band||Average mortgage balance||Average account age (months)|
People with prime or super prime credit scores have higher average mortgage balances, despite also having had their home loan accounts open longer on average. That means that their starting balances were likely higher than folks with lower credit scores.
FAQs: Credit scores for mortgages and cost of real estate
What’s the minimum credit score you need by mortgage loan type?
Before we dive into the average credit scores for recent homebuyers, you may be wondering what the minimum credit score is for a mortgage in 2022. The answer is that it depends on the type of mortgage.
Below is a breakdown of the minimum FICO® scores typically required, based on type of mortgage loan — Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA loans), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loans or conventional loans through a private lender that are insured through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
|Type of mortgage loan||Minimum FICO® score required|
|Conventional mortgage loan||620|
|VA loan||No minimum credit score (though most lenders require a minimum score of 620)|
Note that the minimum scores listed above are for FICO credit scores, specifically — this is the scoring model mortgage lenders typically turn to when considering applications.
What state has the highest average mortgage balance?
Washington, D.C., Credit Karma members had the highest average mortgage balance at $452,712. But Washington, D.C., isn’t a state.
That makes California, with an average mortgage balance of $427,781, the state with the highest average mortgage balance among Credit Karma members. The state with the lowest average mortgage balance among Credit Karma members is West Virginia at $132,334.
What city has the highest average mortgage balance?
Credit Karma members in San Francisco had the highest average mortgage balance — a staggering $763,123. San Jose, Calif., came in a distant second, with an average mortgage balance of $620,009. New York City is close behind that at $615,856.
Meanwhile Toledo, Ohio, had the lowest average mortgage balance among Credit Karma members at only $122,644. Detroit was next lowest at $134,878. Ohio had another city in the lowest mortgage trifecta: Cleveland. The average mortgage balance there was $143,404.
Tips for improving your credit scores
Before applying for a mortgage, you may want to work on your credit scores to help improve your chances of being approved or to better the loan terms you may be offered.
Here are a few things that could help you build your credit.
- Check your credit reports for inaccuracies. If you find one, report it to the credit bureau. Errors could negatively affect your scores, so clearing it up could help!
- Pay off existing debt. Debt-to-income ratio is one of the factors lenders may consider during your application process. Having a lower debt-to-income ratio may help you.
- Avoid applying for new credit. When you apply for credit, it may result in a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries can lower your credit scores.
Check out our article for some more tips on how to build your credit.
We analyzed the accounts of about 29 million Credit Karma members with mortgages who had been active on the site within the last 36 months. Averages were based on information from members’ TransUnion credit reports from the 90 days previous to the data pull, which occurred on Aug. 13, 2022. All numbers in this report were rounded to the nearest whole.
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