Most Americans have credit scores that are too low for them to qualify for the best rates on a mortgage, and nearly one in three are unlikely to get a loan on any terms, according to an analysis by Zillow.

Zillow analyzed 25,000 loan quotes and requests on the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace during the first half of September, and found borrowers were unlikely to receive even one loan quote if they had a credit score of below 620 — even if they offered to make large downpayments of 15 to 25 percent.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited since it was first published to clarify that there are different methods for grouping VantageScores. 

Most Americans have credit scores that are too low for them to qualify for the best rates on a mortgage, and nearly one in three are unlikely to get a loan on any terms, according to an analysis by Zillow.

Zillow analyzed 25,000 loan quotes and requests on the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace during the first half of September, and found borrowers were unlikely to receive even one loan quote if they had a credit score of below 620 — even if they offered to make large downpayments of 15 to 25 percent.

According to Fair Isaac Corp., the creator of the FICO algorithm used by credit reporting agencies to calculate FICO scores, 29.3 percent of Americans have credit scores below 620.

About 47 percent have scores above 720, which would placed them in the group that Zillow’s analysis found was likely to get the best mortgage rates.

The best annual percentage rate quoted by loan originators on Zillow Mortgage Market Place for 30-year fixed-rate loans to borrowers with credit scores of 720 averaged 4.3 percent.

The best quotes for borrowers with FICO scores 719-620 averaged between 4.44 to 4.9 percent, with the rate rising as the credit score decreased. Those with credit scores below 620 received too few loan quotes to calculate an average, Zillow reported.

FICO Score

Percent of Americans in this category

Non-FHA average annual percentage rate (APR)

Below 620

29.3%

N/A

620-639

3.7%

4.9%

640-659

4.3%

4.73%

660-679

4.6%

4.6%

680-699

5.1%

4.56%

700-719

6.1%

4.44%

720 and up

47%

4.3%

Source: Zillow and Fair Isaac Corp.

The credit score distribution numbers are based on credit reports Fair Isaac received in April 2010. FICO 8, the latest version of the FICO scoring model, was used.

"Because score distribution at a national level normally changes only very slowly, we believe those figures continue to reflect the national distribution of FICO scores," a spokesman for Fair Isaac said.

In a recent study, Fair Isaac found the percentage of borrowers at the high end of the FICO score range declined between April 2008 and April 2010, while the percentage on the low end increased. But the downward migration of FICO scores slowed in the second half of the study.  

Website insights

If nearly one in three Americans can’t qualify for a mortgage, knowing the creditworthiness of a real estate portal’s audience could prove valuable to online marketers.

Experian Hitwise has launched a new demographic capability that estimates the credit scores of individual website’s audiences by tracking the behavior of anonymous users.

The service, which uses the generic VantageScore credit score developed by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, reveals differences between the audiences of the six real estate websites that Hitwise says were the most popular in August.

The site with the greatest market share in the real estate category, Yahoo Real Estate, had a slightly lower percentage of visitors in the highest of five credit score categories (18.9 percent) than second-place Realtor.com (21.2 percent).

Realtor.com was also less reliant on visitors at the bottom end of the credit score range, with 12.6 percent of its traffic compared with 14.3 percent for Yahoo Real Estate.

Rent.com, by contrast, had the lowest percentage of visitors in the top credit score bracket (9.2 percent) and the highest percentage of visitors at the bottom (37.5 percent).

Zillow had the highest percentage of visitors with sterling credit (25.8 percent) and the lowest percentage of visitors whose scores ranked at the bottom (7.8 percent).

VantageScores and FICO scores are not directly compatible, because they use formulas that employ different weightings. Also, while the FICO score ranges from 300 to 850, VantageScores use a scale of 501 to 990.

VantageScores can be grouped in four risk tiers: "super prime" consumers with scores of 900 or higher, "prime" consumers scoring between 700 and 899; "near prime" consumers scoring between 640 and 699; and "subprime" consumers scoring between 501 and 639. VantageScore has also used an A, B, C, D, F letter grading system to group scores, a method employed by Hitwise.

Vantage Scores of visitors to top 6 websites

VantageScore Visits share: Yahoo Real Estate
A (901-990) 18.94%
B (801-900) 29.02%
C (701-800) 20.39%
D (601-700) 17.31%
F (501-600) 14.34%
   
VantageScore Visits share: Realtor.com
A (901-990) 21.19%
B (801-900) 29.15%
C (701-800) 19.24%
D (601-700) 17.86%
F (501-600) 12.56%
   
VantageScore Visits share: Zillow
A (901-990) 25.76%
B (801-900) 33.74%
C (701-800) 19.66%
D (601-700) 13.01%
F (501-600) 7.84%
   
VantageScore Visits share: Trulia.com
A (901-990) 20.73%
B (801-900) 30.85%
C (701-800) 19.52%
D (601-700) 17.03%
F (501-600) 11.88%
   
VantageScore Visits share: Rent.com
A (901-990) 9.21%
B (801-900) 14.59%
C (701-800) 16.12%
D (601-700) 22.61%
F (501-600) 37.47%
   
VantageScore Visits share: MSN Real Estate
A (901-990) 19.9%
B (801-900) 26.27%
F (501-600) 19.1%
C (701-800) 19.48%
D (601-700) 15.25%

Source: Experian Hitwise

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