The average credit score to buy a house in 2020

Houses in a row with a field in the foreground. Learn the average credit score to buy a house.Image: Houses in a row with a field in the foreground. Learn the average credit score to buy a house.

In a Nutshell

Different types of mortgages have different requirements for the minimum credit score you need to qualify. But what credit scores do people getting mortgages actually have, on average? According to a Credit Karma analysis of homebuyers’ average VantageScore 3.0® credit scores, average credit scores of homebuyers can vary greatly depending on location.

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A review of Credit Karma members shows the average VantageScore 3.0® credit score across the U.S. for those who opened any type of mortgage tradeline in the past two years is 717.

Looking at VantageScore 3.0 credit scores from TransUnion for tens of millions of Credit Karma members who had a mortgage tradeline open on their credit report in the past two years, we also studied the average VantageScore 3.0 credit score among homebuyers state by state.

Our findings: Average credit scores ranged from 683 (Mississippi) to 739 (New Hampshire and Washington state). The range of scores was even wider when broken down by city. (Learn more about our methodology.)

Want to know more?


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 2020. 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
FHA loan 580
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’s the average credit score for people with mortgages in your state?

While it’s common for mortgage lenders to look at FICO scores in their application review process, we turned to Credit Karma’s vast collection of VantageScore 3.0 data to get a broad picture of the credit health of people getting mortgages. (Find out more about the similarities and differences between credit-scoring models.)

Below, you can see the average TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 credit score of homeowners in each state (plus Washington, D.C.) who recently opened a mortgage.

In general, people in the Northeast or on the West Coast who got mortgages had VantageScore 3.0 credit scores averaging 720 or above — on the higher end of the spectrum.

On the flip side, the Gulf Coast, Midwest and Southern coastal states tended to have some of the weakest average credit scores (700 or lower).

State Average VantageScore 3.0 credit score of homeowners with open mortgages Average amount left to pay on open mortgage Average age of mortgage holder
Alabama 692 $144,579 40
Alaska 734 $243,628 40
Arizona 719 $219,987 40
Arkansas 698 $134,596 40
California 730 $368,942 39
Colorado 732 $277,151 40
Connecticut 726 $213,394 41
District of Columbia 718 $159,946 41
Delaware 712 $200,696 41
Florida 713 $205,656 42
Georgia 700 $179,820 41
Hawaii 738 $384,524 39
Idaho 723 $194,037 40
Illinois 714 $176,741 40
Indiana 708 $134,988 41
Iowa 717 $133,451 40
Kansas 716 $146,088 40
Kentucky 705 $137,772 40
Louisiana 692 $157,085 40
Maine 726 $158,466 42
Maryland 714 $261,628 41
Massachusetts 738 $274,577 40
Michigan 713 $142,177 41
Minnesota 732 $192,228 40
Mississippi 683 $128,846 40
Missouri 709 $144,707 41
Montana 727 $195,464 41
Nebraska 721 $150,183 40
Nevada 715 $249,750 41
New Hampshire 739 $204,383 42
New Jersey 728 $253,339 40
New Mexico 709 $172,226 40
New York 725 $251,425 40
North Carolina 703 $176,269 41
North Dakota 725 $183,884 38
Ohio 710 $134,920 41
Oklahoma 703 $140,413 40
Oregon 733 $256,396 41
Pennsylvania 715 $157,750 40
Rhode Island 726 $213,790 40
South Carolina 696 $164,742 41
South Dakota 722 $163,640 40
Tennessee 706 $165,088 41
Texas 703 $181,799 40
Utah 733 $253,497 38
Vermont 731 $167,508 42
Virginia 718 $241,570 40
Washington State 739 $291,619 40
West Virginia 706 $126,321 41
Wisconsin 719 $152,683 40
Wyoming 724 $197,323 41

At a glance: Additional key findings

Among our members who recently bought a home, those living in West Coast cities tend to have higher average VantageScore 3.0 credit scores, ranging from 704 in Stockton, California, to 782 in San Francisco, California.
Among our members, the average amount people owe on a recently opened mortgage varies widely across states, from a low of $126,321 in West Virginia to a high of $384,524 in Hawaii.
The average age of Credit Karma members who recently opened a mortgage ranges from 35 in Boston, Massachusetts, to 43 in Scottsdale, ArizonaAs a generation, millennials have the highest average mortgage balance at $216,382.

By city: Where do mortgage holders have the highest and lowest average credit scores?

The average VantageScore 3.0 credit score for mortgage openers varies even more widely from city to city — from 657 to 782. Below are the 10 cities where recent homebuyers have the highest average credit scores and the 10 cities where they have the lowest average credit scores.

On the whole, homebuyers on the West Coast have the highest average credit scores, while homebuyers in Southern and Midwestern cities have the lowest credit scores, on average. This may be a reflection of the vast differences between the real estate markets in these areas — with the West Coast naturally drawing buyers with stronger credit profiles overall due to exceptionally high real estate costs.

Remember that VantageScore 3.0 credit scores aren’t the scores most mortgage lenders use when making lending decisions, but they can still help give you an idea of recent homebuyers’ credit health.

Cities where recent homebuyers have the highest average credit scores
City Average VantageScore 3.0 credit score among mortgage holders Average open mortgage balance
1. San Francisco, CA 782 $636,223
2. Irvine, CA 772 $528,238
3. Seattle, WA 767 $435,221
4. Scottsdale, AZ 763 $351,466
5. Fremont, CA 760 $408,533
6. San Jose, CA 758 $542,104
7. Honolulu, HI 748 $408,117
8. Gilbert, AZ 744 $268,768
9. Plano, TX 742 $248,215
10. Boston, MA 739 $435,274

 

Cities where recent homebuyers have the lowest average credit scores
City Average VantageScore 3.0 credit score among mortgage holders Average open mortgage balance
1. Detroit, MI 657 $108,672
2. Memphis, TN 669 $130,088
3. Milwaukee, WI 677 $136,529
4. Cleveland, OH 680 $119,576
5. Baton Rouge, LA 683 $170,405
6. New Orleans, LA 683 $193,202
7. Toledo, OH 688 $106,683
8. Laredo, TX 688 $149,791
9. Baltimore, MD 689 $184,234
10. Greensboro, NC 690 $154,199

By state: Where are homeowners borrowing the most for homes?

No matter where you live in the U.S., there’s no denying it — buying a home is a big expense. Based on our analysis of Credit Karma members, the average open mortgage balance for mortgages that are two years old or less is $196,035. This indicates that there may be certain places where homebuying is significantly more expensive than others.

For example, recent homebuyers borrowing in West Virginia have a mortgage balance of $126,321, while borrowers in Hawaii have an average mortgage balance of $384,524 — more than three times as much.

Overall, our analysis shows that homeownership is significantly more expensive along the West Coast and Northeast, while homes remain more affordable throughout the South and Midwest.

The 10 states with the highest average mortgage balance
State  Average mortgage balance
1. Hawaii $384,524
2. California $368,942
3. Washington State $291,619
4. Colorado $277,151
5. Massachusetts $274,577
6. Maryland $261,628
7. Oregon $256,396
8. Utah $253,497
9. New Jersey $253,339
10. New York State $251,425
 

The 10 states with the lowest average mortgage balance
States Average mortgage balance
1. West Virginia $126,321
2. Mississippi $128,846
3. Iowa $133,451
4. Arkansas $134,596
5. Ohio $134,920
6. Indiana $134,988
7. Kentucky $137,772
8. Oklahoma $140,413
9. Michigan $142,177
10. Alabama $144,579

Millennials: The most in-debt homeowners?

According to our analysis, millennials are the generation with the highest average open mortgage balance.

Generation with the highest average mortgage balance
Generation Average open mortgage balance Average VantageScore 3.0 credit score among mortgage holders
1. Millennial $216,382 701
2. Gen X $214,152 717
3. Greatest $187,177 780
4. Boomer $186,065 766
5. Silent $178,768 818
6. Gen Z $167,064 681


The average age of Credit Karma members with recently opened mortgages across the U.S. was 40, making the average mortgage opener a member of Gen X.

However, in several major cities, including Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis, the average age was 35 to 38 — meaning the average mortgage was opened by a millennial. With more millennials aging into their late 30s, demand for mortgages across the U.S. could soon rise.


Methodology

For this analysis, we studied aggregate VantageScore 3.0 credit score data from TransUnion for Credit Karma members who — during the period from Aug. 1, 2020, to Aug. 31, 2020 — had an open mortgage balance on their account that had been reported on their credit report for 24 months or less. We then looked at the amounts of the mortgages they had opened during that time period. Location and age data is based on information included in members’ TransUnion credit reports and were studied in aggregate for this analysis. We analyzed aggregated data for over 90 million members for state data and aggregated data for about 23 million members in a top 100 most-populated U.S. city as determined by census data. All dollar amounts have been rounded to the nearest whole.


About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer an… Read more.