A: In theory, you should be able to obtain an FHA-backed mortgage. However, lenders are so afraid about being asked to buy back failed loans that they have added "overlays" to the minimum requires standards for credit score (and other underwriting criterion). The practical effect is that it is very, very hard to obtain a loan with a score much below 620. You should review your credit history and correct any errors and work hard to get your score up off the bottom before you try to apply for a loan.
A 25-year expert observer of the mortgage and consumer debt markets, Keith Gumbinger has been cited in thousands of articles covering a wide range of consumer finance and economic topics in outlets ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Bottom Line newsletters. He has been a featured guest on national broadcasts for CNN, CNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and has been heard on NPR and other national and local radio programs. Keith is the primary researcher and writer for HSH.com's MarketTrends newsletter and has authored or co-authored a number of consumer guides on mortgages, home equity, refinancing and more.