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Can you buy a house with bad credit?

Yahoo Finance is answering your most-searched finance questions of 2014. The fifth most-asked question was: "Can I buy a house with bad credit?"

The short answer is yes — but it won’t be easy. If your credit score isn’t great (say, lower than 650) you’ll likely have a much harder time getting approved for a mortgage.

You’ve got three options: you can get a traditional loan through mortgage servicers like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac; you can apply for an FHA-backed loan; or you can turn to private subprime mortgage lenders, which may be more willing to take on risky borrowers.

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Fannie and Freddie loans are great because they require a low down payment of only 3 to 5%. BUT they only lend to people with credit scores above 620. If yours is lower than 620, you’ll have better luck with an FHA loan, but you’ll have to put twice as much down -- 10%.

If those options don’t pan out, private lenders may take you on. Just be warned -- they can have crazy high interest rates, like 8-9% and you’ll have to put down 20% or more for a down payment.

But take it from us -- try improving your credit before applying for a home loan. According to FICO, someone with a credit score lower than 640 will wind up paying $32,000 more over the lifetime of their mortgage than someone with a score of 760.

Have a personal finance question you’d like answered? Drop us a line at yfmoneymailbag@yahoo.com.

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