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The question of whether to buy or rent real estate if you have less than perfect credit has changed and evolved over time. First, a quick history lesson. Until around 20 years ago, if you had poor credit, you were often severely challenged to enter the home buying market as opportunities to get mortgage financing were few. In the past two decades, a wide variety of new mortgage products, many targeted to buyers with less than perfect credit, emerged. Some were helpful and reasonably priced, allowing many potential home buyers to enter the market. Other mortgage programs have proven more detrimental than helpful.
The result of using some of these mortgage programs has helped push the foreclosure rate to high levels. Even those homeowners who chose one of the better “non-conforming” programs have, at times, had some problems as adjustable rate mortgages re-price upward. Regardless of how fair the terms of a non-conforming loan may be, you will pay a higher interest rate for one of these mortgages.
A better plan might be to look for apartments for rent that provide all the comforts you seek, without the potential frustration of dealing with the sometimes difficult terms of a non-conforming mortgage. After you find one of the apartments that fit your criteria, you can work on improving your credit report. The majority of credit problems can be cured in a relatively short time period -- six months to one year is common. At that time, you may qualify for a conforming mortgage loan that could save you thousands of dollars.
There is no hard and fast credit profile or FICO score you should have. But, if you make an effort to increase your credit score to around 620 or higher, you should qualify for a low interest mortgage in the future. Until that occurs, you might want to consider apartment rentals or rental homes that fit your personality and lifestyle.